Shelterbelt, Redux.

Back last Spring, I posted about our intention to put in a shelterbelt/windbreak/hedgerow along our property line to minimize drifting of snow across our driveway. We started by rooting many of the Dwarf Globe Arctic Willow (Salix purpurea ‘Nana’) cuttings that were necessary to rejuvenate them after the rabbit damage from our hellacious February. The cuttings obviously took really well, but I’d say only 20% took once we got them into the ground. C’est la vie- they were free! But we did drop the ball on getting shrubs ordered, our timing was a bit off and we wanted to see how well our willow cuttings did.

The plan we laid out previously still stands (see below), but this year we are focusing on adding variety via larger shrubs and a few trees.

Hedge Diagram

We planned to purchase wee little seedlings from a local native plant nursery (Paint Creek Nursery) to get the most bang for our buck, but alas, I was too pokey making my decisions and the stock I wanted was sold out by early February. Duly noted!

So we moved over to Fedco Trees who we’ve ordered fruit trees from before and been a) impressed with the stock and delivery, and b) very happy with the quality and viability of the plants we ordered. Its more expensive (and we have to pay shipping, boo!) but the plants are larger and will hopefully have more impact more quickly.

We ordered 10 American Hazlenut (Corylus americana), a Pagoda Dogwood tree, 10 Redosier Dogwood (Cornus sericea), 4 Winterberry (male ‘Southern Gentleman’ and female ‘Winter Red’), and 2 Vernal Witch Hazel. It won’t be enough to completely fill in this area, but combining these with the rooted Dwarf Globe Arctic Willows will go a long way to a) create habitat for loads of birds and bugs and b) start weaving together a really effective shelterbelt.

I’d like to add in another tree or two, and the plan is to add in something like a Showy Mountain Ash (Sorbus decora) and an Ironwood/American Hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana) from our local-ish large nursery (hey-o Gertens!)

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Showy Mountain Ash, image via Swift Tree Centre
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American Hophornbeam or Ironwood, image via Great Plains Nursery

We also plan to take a few more willow cuttings to see if we can boost the stock and get another bit of free plant material to thicken the hedge.

Aside from all these plants looking good and making an effective windbreak, we wanted to make sure that we were adding in actual, usable, high-quality habitat. This meant focusing on natives (or cultivars of natives) and shrubs that provided food as well as the form necessary to break up wind and snow patterns. We used Audubon’s Plants for Birds feature to get a bead on what would serve our native birds well and fit our conditions. That’s how we came up with this roster of plants.

With any luck, these plants will be happy and will sucker, spread, and grow- and if we are really luck, set seeds and make for a really lovely, thick, food-filled habitat. Obviously we will continue to plant the area (and try to take more softwood cuttings for free plants) until it gets to be a thick, dense hedge.

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