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Plant Suggestion Needed

I have a dead tree on the very edge of my natural pond. I don't want to get rid of it because there are critters living in it, but I would like to make it more visually appealing. I'm in Michigan in the US. Winter temps here can dip to about 26 degrees below zero celsius, so I'm looking for suggestions for a hardy (zone 5) climber which will tolerate very damp roots and partial shade. Any ideas? Thanks!!


  • Fran IOMFran IOM Posts: 2,410
    @newdunne I am bumping up your thread as you have not had a reply. I can only imagine that as you don't live in the UK it would be difficult for anyone on the forum to advise you especially considering your low temperatures. Maybe there is someone out there who can help. Welcome to the forum.  :)
  • Yes, those low temperatures are outside my experience ... I know @Obelixx experienced some very low temperatures in her previous garden ... perhaps she can help?  :)

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • First of all, thanks to everyone for your attempts to help. I guess I didn't realize we were so much colder than the UK. We can grow  roses here, no problem, but I do think my spot is too wet and maybe too shady for most roses. Zepherine Drouhin might handle the shade, but I don't think it would survive the damp. I read a more local suggestion that a climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea Anomala Subsp. Petiolaris) might work and I have one of those already so if I could figure out how to take a cutting from it, that would definitely be a budget-friendly suggestion. Again, I'm just not sure if it could handle that much damp. Another idea I had this morning was that I could just stick a river birch in front of it, but then I've got all those leaves falling into the pond, not sure if I should do that. I wish gardening were as big a pastime here as it is in the UK. It's not really. Allotment gardens don't really exist here, nor do plant shows. We have "Home & Garden" shows, but they almost never have big plant displays. They're more about insulation and vinyl siding. All my local nurseries are closed now until May. So it's nice to get feedback from other gardeners :) Thanks again!
  • We have an occasional Canadian(?) poster on here - @Johnny canoe.  He experiences very low winter temperatures, I think, and might have a suggestion for you...
    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
  • Hello newdunne, a climbing Hydrangea might be alright for your area, I know a Bittersweet Vine will cover that tree in no time.
  • robairdmacraignilrobairdmacraignil Posts: 718
    edited December 2019
    What about English ivy? I have read it can survive that type of cold winter and also they are often OK with damp and shade and are evergreen so leaves falling in the pond would not be a problem. Here is a clip of some flowering in my own garden:

  • Thank you to everyone for all the suggestions. I think I'm going to put a tripod up at the base of the broken tree, put a different plant on each of the three poles and see which one takes over first. I prefer to use natives whenever possible so I think I'll start with Virgin's Bower Clematis, Rosa palustris Marshall, and maybe Dioscorea villosa. I'll post a pic of the winner :smiley:
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,099
    edited December 2019
    Good idea and I'd be interested to know the results.

    My previous garden had frequent -25C but too many of those for too many nights killed off my rosa New Dawn and also many evergreen shrubs.   It even killed off a Japanese salix Flamingo and several clematis and all my fancy marginal irises but not the thuggish yellow flag iris.   I didn't have any climbers in the pond margins or boggier bits so can't offer a suggestion.   

    However, a key feature of our -25C was bitter winds straight from Siberia with no protective snow cover to insulate the ground or crowns of plants.  It does make a difference.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Fortunately those temperatures for my area are somewhat uncommmon. We have them, but they don't usually stay for long periods and we don't have them every year. I'm fairly confident my three choices will be hardy in my area. The moisture level is the question mark for me. I'll provide an update later in the summer. Fingers crossed!
  • OK, so here's my starting point. Pretty scary, I know. I've been using the winter months to begin cutting down the weeds and wild brambles surrounding the dead tree. I won't be able to work the soil for a few months yet, but I want to do what I can right through the winter, if for no other reason than to keep me motivated.

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