Now the River Birch doesn't offer flowers, but it does offer one advantage over many trees, it can grow 2-3 feet a year. If you purchase a River Birch that is already 5 feet or taller you may end up with a nice shade tree of 15 feet in no time. The River Birch is an interesting specimen in your yard for other reasons as well with its distinctive peeling bark. It adapts well to many soil types and is wind and ice resistant. This is good news even for those in zone 8, as there is the odd ice storm on occasion and windy months as well. Also beneficial to the homeowner, this tree is drought tolerant which is always an issue in zones 8 and warmer.
Sweetbay Magnolia also known as Magnolia Virginiana
Can be found growing in many forests throughout the south. Unlike the large Magnolia Grandiflora, Sweetbay Magnolia offers you all of the lovely benefits without the long wait. Sweetbay Magnolia grows in stalks from the ground up and offer quick shade. One benefit in addition to their fast growing, and lovely scented blossoms is that you can easily take this plant and create many plants from its base.
These lovely trees/shrubs like an acidic soil, full sun to part shade and are extremely disease and pest resistant. They can grow up to 20' in height and 20' feet wide if you don't thin and separate the new shoots that come up. These shoots make new trees when transplanted which makes this a great investment for your zone 8 or warmer garden. The scent of the smaller blossoms is intoxicating in the evening especially. For those living in zones 5-9 the Sweetbay offers exotic and lush privacy.
|Lombardy Poplars (Photo credit: wallygrom)|
These trees are fast growing, up to 5 feet a year, tall and column shaped. They reach a mature height of up to 60 feet and can be a great way to create a soft barrier between properties, or used to block unpleasant views like a busy road. They thrive in zones 4 through 8. Lombardy Poplars also are a great windbreak as well and are relatively inexpensive. They prefer a loamy soil with good drainage and a location that has full sun to do their very best growth wise.