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Article posted: 7/21/2013 1:00 AM

Decorative trees options for landscaped area

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Q. We need a small decorative tree for the center circle in our driveway. We have boxwood with roses between -- then closer to the center, a circle of day lilies and then there is supposed to be a tree. We have tried redbuds, but it is too windy for them. We have a very windy lot. Tree has northern exposureand gets full sun.

A. Since you have the roses and day lilies blooming through the summer, you might consider a small tree that flowers in the spring. The following trees can sustain full sun and wind.

Sargent crabapple (Malus sargentii) is a small flowering tree with a mature size of 5-8 feet. It has fragrant white flowers during spring and red fruit in the autumn.

Pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) is a native of the Midwest, and produces small yellowish-white flowers in late May and early June. A bluish-black fruit ripens in July and August. It has a mature height of 15-25 feet. The Pagoda dogwood has four seasons of interest in a garden -- late-spring flowers, clean green leaves during the summer, good fall color and strong form in the winter landscape.

Pekin lilac (Syringa pekinensis) is a lesser known lilac that produces fragrant, creamy white flowers in late May and early June. It also has an interesting reddish-brown peeling bark. Its mature size is 15-25 feet.

Japanese Tree Lilac (Syringa reticulata) is another small flowering tree with a mature height of 15-25 feet. It produces large clusters of creamy white flowers in early summer. Its bark is similar to that of cherry trees -- shiny with long horizontal lines.

Finally, you said that you tried redbuds, but they didn't work. The Eastern Redbud (Cercis Canadensis) is a native of the Midwest. Like all redbuds, it produces magenta flowers in spring. It also can sustain windy conditions. Its mature height is 5-8 feet.

Q. I was wondering if you could answer regarding squirrel problems we are having. Last fall, we planted 60 tulip bulbs and the squirrels dug up and consumed them. Do you know what can be done to deter their destruction?

A. Squirrels are intelligent, industrious and hungry. They especially love spring flower bulbs and will dig them up as fast as you plant them.

There are several things you can do to make bulbs unappealing to squirrels, and give them a chance to grow.

Plant your bulbs as deeply as recommended, pack the ground down firmly and hide evidence of digging by covering the area with leaves, straw or mulch. The deeper the bulb, the less likely a squirrel is to find it. Also, throw out any brown skins that fall off the bulbs during planting.

Lay wire mesh, such as chicken wire on top of the bed. Plant the bulbs and fill with dirt so that only the tops of the bulbs are visible. Next, lay the wire mesh on top of the bed, and then fill with dirt. The squirrels can't dig through the mesh and the flowers will grow neatly through the holes.

Try growing bulbs that squirrels find distasteful, such as allium, daffodils and hyacinths. Planting these bulbs around the perimeter of your planting area may also help protect the other (better-tasting) bulbs from the squirrels.

Provided by Mary Boldan and Mary Moisand, University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners. Master Gardener Answer Desk, located at Friendship Park Conservatory, 395 Algonquin, Des Plaines, is open 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays. Call (847) 298-3502 or email Cookcountymg.com@gmail.com

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