I am reluctantly going to yard out my Sam cherry tree - it has lost vigor, is misshapen (bad pruning on my part), and has given me very few cherries in the past few years. It is beautiful in spring when in bloom, but otherwise is rather insipid with only so-so fall color. It is located right outside our side entrance which is the one most folks use. Since I have a son named Sam, I will likely get a replacement tree next spring and plant it out in the front field.
I would like to replace the Sam with an ornamental tree with good fall color. My tendency is to try for native or near-native. My initial thought is the dogwood 'Eddie's White Wonder.' Has anyone planted this, and if so what is your experience? How quickly will it put on growth? I am hoping to find a fairly large specimen to begin with and also hopeful I can plant out this fall, although I have to first get the cherry gone so realistically it will likely not be until spring. My other thought is to underplant the entire area with some sort of grassy groundcover - perhaps lilyturf or forest grass. Couple comparison pics to show how this area has declined over the years.
First photo is June 2007 showing cherries on a healthy tree. Most of the perennials have since lost vigor, perhaps because of the tree root competition, the underlying creeping jenny has smothered them, or some may just be short lived. I really loved the tiarella (Iron Butterfly) but it barely made a showing this year. The geraniums are still with me, but I've moved the white rose and lavender (shown on the right).
Second photo is April 2014 and as you can see it just seems to have gotten away from me. The geranium is still a nice presence (breaking dormancy in this photo) and I've relocated the rose (Iceberg) because it was getting too tall and replaced with a young fothergilla. I tried planting lily-of-the-valley under the tree, which works OK in spring but then looks ratty during the summer. Between that and the volunteer centaurea that pops up throughout the bed, most everything else has been out-crowded.
Across the sidewalk is my larger front bed which has a lot of color/texture throughout the growing season. Here's a photo in April 2013 showing that bed, with the troublesome bed across the sidewalk in front of it. In the works at the far end of the front bed is a pondless water feature which will have 3 stone columns. So, looking to kind of frame this more vibrant bed with an understated year-round presence. Directly in front of the main sidewalk is the guest parking area, and although the sidewalk leads to our formal front door, most folks turn left and come into the house using the side entrance into the kitchen (no surprise there...)
This bed is located southeast of the house and northeast of the barn, so gets good morning and afternoon sun and is shaded mid-day. The prevailing wind comes from the northwest, so good air circulation with some protection from the house. Any thoughts and suggestions would be most appreciated.