April 6, 2007


Standard Weeping Pussy Willow

For those of you who have deck or balcony gardens, and your numbers are rapidly increasing in Chicago and other large cities in Zone 5, your work is much more difficult than it is for the rest of us .

Your first and foremost consideration is containers that will overwinter and can handle the freezing and thawing cycle . This eliminates ceramic or clay pots, and glazed pottery. I know, I know, they're gorgeous but short-lived if you are to overwinter plants in them. Containers made of cedar are the best rot and moisture-resistant. Those inexpensive large half whiskey barrels will last for years. Concrete planters are strong, but heavy in large sizes and not easily moved about. High quality polyurethane , colored to look like Terra Cotta, is another good choice.

Once you've selected your container, and, I must emphasize the larger the better because the more soil you have the more likely the plant is to survive.

Begin by selecting small trees . The half whiskey barrel is large enough to plant dwarf standards ( standards are trees or shrubs with a weeping or pendulous habit above a straight trunk ) such as Weeping Pussywillow, Weeping Crabapple, Weeping Cherry, Dwarf Korean Lilac and Weeping Peashrub. For a bare wall an Ornamental Espalier, a horizontally trained branching tree, such as a pear or apple is very attractive in a sunny spot.

Two other hardy standards are Rose of Sharon and Mulberry.

Korean Dwarf Lilac Standard


  1. You gave me some good ideas for my container garden. Its so hard to know what trees will survive the terrible winters here.

  2. Hi Susan,

    I advise gardeners to try to find Zone 4 trees/shrubs because as the joke in the industry goes : What does Zone 5 with protection mean ? " Answer : Dead.

  3. Oh what happened to your other template Carolyn? I used to use this template so when I came to your blog I had a flash back. You should customize a template so it has your artistic style.

  4. Hi Mr. Brown Thumb :

    This one is only temporary. The other template was artistic but limited in its functions.

    As you may know I'm technically challenged and I leave all that to my Webmaster son. He's working on something that shows both mine and his artistic style.

  5. Oh I can't wait to see what ya'll com up with. Not that I've played with my template I keep feeling like I want to change over to something new.

    But I'll wait and see if Blogger comes out with any new templates any time soon before I do.

  6. Listen, honey,

    My son got so embarrassed by your comment that he switched it back pronto ! He's still doing research so stay tuned.

  7. Hello Carolyn,
    Thanks for coming to visit my Austin, Texas garden blog. As a former Northern Illinois gardener I like to read yours, too. I wish I'd thought of the Korean lilac as a standard back in 1997!

    In Illinois my patio whiskey barrel held a corkscrew willow which did well for at least 8 years. It might be too tall for a balcony, but would work on an open patio. Mine was originally a rooted willow wand used as filler in a floral arrangement; it took about 3 years before the small tree had any presence.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  8. Hello Carolyn,

    The corkscrew willow I grew was probably Salix madsudana, and I grow a descendent of the original plant in a container here in Austin.

    I wanted to have a "Harry Lauder's Walking Stick", too - a friend had that shrub, and I tried to get it going, but had no luck, darn it. 'Harry Lauder' is a corkscrew Hazelnut, Corylus avellana 'Contorta', with larger leaves rather than the long, thin ones of the willow. I've read that the nickname refers to an oldtime British vaudevillian.

    We got down to 34º ourselves on Saturday night, but didn't actually freeze. Oh your poor magnolias! The Saucers/soulangeas get caught by late freezes here, too, but less often.

    I sure hope that spring has no more bad surprises for you!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  9. Annie,

    Excuse my winter weary brain ! I just read " corkscrew " and immediately thought of Henry Lauder's Walking Stick. I love the look of amazement and curiosity when people see this tree for the first time !

    I like to read your blog, too. I lived in Texas for a few years when I was young . It makes me happy to see how many things are growing and blooming.

    Visit again soon.


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