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Naturalize Your Landscape

Re-Wilding McKellar Guide

 by Chris Clayton


Suggested Plant Combinations

The lists below are straight forward suggestions to guide your planting projects for the typical soil and water of “Manitouwabing Country”. You don’t have to plant everything in each habitat. Pick and choose for winter interest, height, screening, colour and height.

Note:  Click the "Details" buttons to see the descriptions of the plants in each category. 

Lakeside and Wet Habitats

Along the lakeside or in wet or damp soil conditions, plant Tamarack, also called Larch, with River Birch and White Cedar for height with Chokeberry, Dogwood, Willow and Elderberry underneath.

Larix laricina, Tamarack, grows to 75 ft.      tolerates damp soil, an unusual deciduous conifer; new spring lime-green needles turn light green in summer then turns brilliant yellow in autumn before dropping its needles.

Thuja occidentalis, White Cedar grows to 30ft.        a very hardy, small evergreen that tolerates damp habitats and provides birds with good cover.

Betula nigra, River Birch, grows to 25 to 30 ft. Noticeable light golden peeling bark, damp soil tolerant and somewhat resistant to bronze birch borer. Grouse eat the buds, catkins & seeds, while chickadees and finches eat the seeds.

Aronia melanocarpa, Black Chokeberry, grows to 5 ft. damp soils tolerant, white spring flowers, black berries are winter food for chickadees, meadowlarks and waxwings.

Cornus sericea, Red Osier Dogwood, grows to 4 ft. damp soils tolerant, the ripe fruit is eaten in late summer and fall by cardinals, finches, grosbeaks, robins, thrushes, waxwings and woodpeckers, some fruit persist into winter.

Salix discolour, Pussy Willow, grows to 20 ft.      damp soils tolerant, early white spring flowers beneficial to song birds, grouse, moose and deer eat the buds & tender twigs.

Sambucus canadensis, Elderberry, grows to 10ft. tolerates wet habitat, fruit is an important summer food for robins, blackbirds, cardinals, finches, grosbeaks, jays and woodpeckers.


Meadow Edges / Hedgerows

On the edges of meadows or for new hedgerows, plant larger trees; White Spruce, Birch and Poplar, smaller trees: Mountain Ash and Choke Cherry with Saskatoonberry, Highbush Cranberry, Ninebarks and Meadowsweet underneath.

Picea glauca, White Spruce, grows to 50 ft. to 150ft, very hardy, good bird cover, the cones are wildlife food.

Betula papyriera, Paper Birch, grows to 25 to 30 ft. noticeable white peeling bark. Grouse eat buds, catkins & seeds, chickadees and finches eat the seeds.

Populus tremuloides, Trembling Aspen, grows to 50 ft. buds and catkins are winter and spring food for grouse and deer, songbirds enjoy the buds in spring.

Salix discolour, Pussy Willow, grows to 20 ft. tolerates wet habitat, early white spring flowers beneficial to song birds, grouse, moose and deer eat the buds & tender twigs.

Sorbus americana, American Mountain Ash, grows to 20ft. tolerates damp soil, white spring flowers, berries eaten by moose, robins, thrushes, waxwings and jays.

Amelanchier alnifolia, Saskatoonberry, grows to 5 ft. tall white spring flowers, berries feed cardinals, chickadees, flickers, grosbeaks, orioles and woodpeckers. Berries make excellent jam; the jam was once served to Queen Elizabeth with scones on a royal visit to Saskatoon.

Prunus virgiana, Choke Cherry, grows to 20ft.  white spring flowers Fruit eaten birds, bees, insects and mammals, deer graze on twigs, leaves and bark.

Rosa rugosa, Wild Rose, grows to 4ft.                white flowers, we eat rose hips and share them wildlife, hips remain on the bushes throughout winter and wild rose thickets provide excellent bird cover.

Spiraea alba, Meadowsweet, grows to 5ft.        white spring flowers, sun and partial shade tolerant, nectar & pollen are food for bees, birds and butterflies.

Viburnum trilobum, Highbush Cranberry, grows to 12ft. with white flowers in Spring, fruit eaten by song birds, twigs and leaves are deer food as well


A New Forest or Grove

To re-wild larger areas for a forest or grove, plant White Pine, Maples, Oaks, Birches and Serviceberries.

Acer saccharum, Sugar Maple, grows to 110 ft. leaves turn yellow to scarlet in autumn, good bird cover. plant for future generations to tap for maple syrup.

Beutal alleghaniensis, Yellow Birch, grows to 30ft. golden brown bark, grouse and songbirds eat the buds & seeds, sapsuckers drill holes in the thin bark, leaves are food for butterfly caterpillers.

Pinus strobus, White Pine, grows to 80ft.           long soft light green needles a good bird roosting / nesting tree, nutritious seeds attract birds, grouse will eat needles.

Quercus alba, White Oak, preferred acorns for ducks and quail, deer graze on twigs, songbirds eat the acorns and good cover for all wildlife.

Amelanchier canadensis, Serviceberry, a large shrub 30ft tall with white flowers in Spring. Good for birds, bees, insects and mammals.

Cornus alternifolia, Pagoda Dogwood, attractive, 20ft small tree with horizontal branches, white flowers in spring.

Understory

To enhance the drive through a forest clearing, plant Pagoda Dogwood, Serviceberry and Nannyberry. If sunny enough on one side of the drive you could add Meadowsweet.

Amelanchier canadensis, Serviceberry, a large shrub 30ft tall with white flowers in spring. Good for birds, bees, insects and mammals.

Cornus alternifolia, Pagoda Dogwood, attractive, 20ft small tree with horizontal branches, white flowers in spring.

Viburnum trilobum, Highbush Cranberry, grows to 12ft, with white flowers in Spring, fruit eaten by song birds, twigs and leaves are deer food as well.

Spiraea alba, Meadowsweet, grows to 5ft, white spring flowers, sun and partial shade tolerant, nectar & pollen are food for bees, birds and butterflies.


Hilltops / Rocky Shorelines

For a bright sunny dry hilltop or a rocky shoreline plant a stand of drought tolerant Jack Pine. They usually grow as pure stands in open habitats with the iconic rugged character of a Tom Thompson painting.

Pinus banksiana, Jack Pine, grows to 70ft high, extremely drought tolerant, grouse eat buds and needles.


Deer Trails

Plant hemlock so that deer make trails in winter through the low snow under these evergreens.

Tsuga canadensis, Hemlock, grows to 200ft, shade tolerant, song birds nest in Hemlock which also provides cover for turkeys and grouse.

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