Pretty, small, shrub?

One side of my house needs to be redone this year. It's a narrow strip down along between my house and the fence that separates my property from the neighbor's on that side. The next house is pretty close (15 feet?), and if she didn't have her shades down, we could look into each other's houses. Anyone on the street can look slantwise into my kitchen in the current bare condition of that strip.
I'm planning to put a row of lilac bushes along most of the length, since I just love lilacs and they should grow up into a nice shield. I'd like to put something pretty on the front of the row, though, on the end facing the street. Between that spot and the street there's a short length of river rock, then a raised bed with a rose bush in the end, then a chain link fence, then the sidewalk, then the street. I'd want this "something pretty" to not grow as high as the lilacs will. I'm thinking in terms of a punctuation point, and I'd like something flowering.
Can one get *little* ornamental cherry trees? Or magnolia? Or dogwood or the like? I wouldn't mind at all if the tree/bush/shrub produced something that birds or squirrels would like to eat. I'm very wildlife friendly. I definitely want it to bloom!
Any suggestions?
Priscilla, urban gardener in Boston, MA, Zone 6
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Priscilla Ballou wrote:

Lilac bushes will fill most of the 15" of space you have. I hope you're not planning on being able to walk through there in a few years. I've got about the same amount of space between my house and our neighbor, fortunately no windows. There's a mature lilac there that is as tall as our 2 storey house and regularly has to be cut back on both sides of the fence to allow access to the back yard.
Our miniature lilacs are much less energetic. :)
As for flowering, you might consider the Rose of Sharon, they bloom all summer in pink, white, or purple, and make a nice screen as well.
Dawn
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Uh, it's 15 feet, not inches, and in any event the 15 feet is the distance between my house and the house next door, not the length of the area I want to put a privacy screen in. It's about 35 feet of length. I plan to put in about 20 feet of lilacs, and have about 10 feet in front and 5 feet in back to do something else with.

I expect I'll prune them. They can hang over the fence on my neighbor's side and be trimmed back on my side so I can walk down the side of my house the few times I may need to. There's a few feet between where they'll be planted and the side of my house.

This isn't the major access to the back yard, and I have no fear of pruning. Height would be fine.

I didn't know there were miniature lilacs.

Oh, I've got Rose of Sharon all over the place. The big bush balancing out on the other side of my property is a big white Rose of Sharon. I'm thinking more of something different -- a dwarf fruit tree, an ornamental cherry if I can find one small enough, like that. I have a lovely little flowering quince out back. It's about the size I'm looking for.
Priscilla
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hello Priscilla!
perhaps a Spirea Japonica would go well there?
Sue ( yep the one in western maine)

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Interesting! I just googled it. That's a definite possibility.
I may have lost my heart to a mini-dwarf Honeycrisp apple tree, though, from Raintree Nursery. I expect I'll have to get two, though, and I'll need to know how far apart they can be, since I'd want to stick the second behind the house.

Hey! Nice to see ya!
Priscilla
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The cultivar 'Magic Carpet' has the prettiest color of any of its many cultivars. Here's a young specimen in its early-spring brightness:
http://www.paghat.com/images/spireamagic_mar.jpg

Apples need two DIFFERENT cultivars that bloom simultaneously to fruit properly. Even the dwarf will seem huge in a yard as small as you describe. Fruiting plums trees are much more apt to be fully self-fertile so that a single tree will fruit nicely, & have the same flowering beauty.
To me the best shrubs are deciduous azaleas, & care should be taken to select varieties that are notable for their perfume. Some like R. atlanticum prefer a partially shady spot, others like R. calendulaceum or R. vaseyi like quite a bit of sun but may not be as perfumy. Select them in flower to make sure they're redolent. They grow slowly, however, & to have a really nice specimen right away requires investing in somewhat mature shrubs & can be pricy.
Here's one of my favorites, wonderful perfume, gorgeous leaves when the flowers ore done, more gorgeous still in its autumn colors, & nice structure for winter appearance: In spring: http://www.paghat.com/rhodyblossoms1.html In autumn: http://www.paghat.com/azaleaautumnwalk1.html
-paggers
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snipped-for-privacy@netscape.net (paghat) wrote:

Ah! Thanks. Well, they have several varieties. I'll ask them about timing.

Except that I like apples, and I don't like plums. Not that I'm expecting to assuage too much hunger off this tree. ;-)
The one I put out back should have plenty of space. There's a large (for an urban yard -- probably 50' x 80' out of the full 50' x 140' lot size?) wild area that I haven't really begun to encroach into yet. I have a big old pear tree smack dab in the middle that has only a couple of years left in it, and I can position the second apple a length behind it so it can take over as a dominant feature when poor Ms. Pear has to go bye-bye. I do have to find out about distance between pollinators.
And I don't mind if the tree in front gets full. It will be screening my garbage can area from the street. That whole side of the house is quite unattractive, so lots of stuff growing up to obscure it is desireable. Now, the *rest* of the front yard is a different story. I had it all cleaned out last fall and designed five raised beds which are separated by expanses of river rock. It opens out the most attractive view of the house and makes the front yard seem much larger. I incorporated the driveway into the river rock expanse, since I don't own a car and have no need at this time for a driveway. I've gotten lots of approval from my neighbors on the redesign.

Unfortunately I have an unaccountable dislike for azaleas (also rhododendrons and hydrangeas). :-(

Very attractive. But still an azalea. ;-)
Thanks for the feedback.
Priscilla
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I just put in my order at Raintree Nursery for a mini-dwarf Jonagold apple for the "punctuation point" at the front end of the row of lilacs. (It will also block at least part of the view of my aesthetically displeasing garbage cans.) These mini dwarfs can reported be maintained at 6 feet or so, which is perfect.
I also ordered a 4-in-1 dwarf (not mini) apple for the back yard to be established beyond the pear tree in anticipation of its needing to take over the role of central visual element when the pear meets its demise in a year or two. The four apples are Liberty, Chihalis, Williams Pride, and Fiesta, none of which I'm familiar with, but whose descriptions look good.
Priscilla

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