Jeepers Weepers

Weeping Katsura Background in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Weeping Katsura Background (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

When it comes to structure, weepers are a form that shouldn’t be denied an opportunity to accentuate your garden.  Average plants and shrubs tend to grow upright, so incorporating a little downward flow will shake things up a bit.  Adding an umbrella shaped tree or shrub, whether deciduous or evergreen, will provide a focal point for any season.  And, you needn’t be limited to keeping weepers in a garden setting, as they are quite competent to stand alone in the landscape as well.

Weeping Crabapple Background in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Weeping Crabapple provides soothing background (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

I love to mix things up when it comes to design, but there still has to be some continuity.  When you add a weeping structure to your landscape, consider how the placement will work with the surrounding garden mates.  If the weeper is rather tall, will it be centered in the garden or used in the background?  Part of the plan will depend on how the garden bed is viewed.  For example, I use a weeping katsura, Cercidiphyllum japonicum ‘Pendulum’ (zone 4-8), as a backdrop in a bed that is mostly viewed from the front and sides (the back is a fenced parking area), but in a circular raised bed, the canopy of a weeping crabapple, Malus (zone 4-6), takes center stage when surrounded by lower shrubs, perennials and vines.  In both instances, the weeping form is complementary to its garden companions through all seasons.  This is accomplished by using the form itself as the strongest feature, in other words, the foliage and other attributes do not detract from neighboring plantings.

Weeping Norway Spruce in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Weeping Norway Spruce in Raised Bed (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Yet, there are plenty of reasons to use a cascading form as an individual statement.  I adore weeping spruces such as Picea abies ‘Pendula’ (zone 3-7), a tree that can certainly hold its own in any landscape.  The trick is placing it where all of the characteristics can be truly appreciated.  Picea abies ‘Pendula’ is delightful at the corner of a raised bed, where its branches can playfully roam about, while never reaching higher than the window above it.  As long as it gets a good amount of sun, weeping Norway spruce will slowly fill in an area with no care from you.  Because of the tough needles, critters won’t be chomping on the limbs either.

Weeping Larch in Autumn in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Weeping Larch in Autumn (photo Kathy Diemer)

And all weepers aren’t created equal; instead some can be used as lower-level features.  Ground cover evergreens and plants can often be trained to drape over a wall, and a grafted weeping European larch, Larix decidua ‘Pendula’ (zone 3-7), is a perfect specimen when paired with other trailing shrubs.  Combining deciduous weepers with evergreens creates a lovely contrast, especially when fall color is involved.  A weeping form below a rounded window or near an archway is another complementary option.  No matter the application, consider adding a pendulous collaborator to your landscape this spring.  But, I warn you, those drooping characters are addictive and it’s hard to stop with just one!

Weeping White Birch in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Weeping White Birch (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Here are a few more zone hardy weepers that go with the flow: Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’ (Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar-zone 6-9), Juniperus virginiana ‘Pendula’ (Weeping Eastern Red Cedar-zone 3-7), Picea glauca ‘Pendula’ (Weeping White Spruce-zone 3-7), Betula pendula (Weeping White Birch-zone 4-7), Fagus sylvatica ‘Pendula’ (Weeping Beech-zone 4-7), Prunus spachiana ‘Pendula’ (Weeping Japanese Cherry-zone 5-8), and *Acer palmatum dissectum (Weeping Japanese Maple-*zone 5-8, but early frost destroys young foliage). Happy trailings . . .

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