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Woody perennial choices for a spot that gets flattened with snow?

 
steward
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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I have a nice spot with sun 3/4 of the day.  Unlike the rest of my property, this spot isn't well drained, it's probably slightly damp.  I planted a black currant there last summer and it seemed to do ok.  I'd like to expand the planting, the area is about 15' by 20'.  

The issue is that a nearby lean to roof attached to a barn dump tons of snow on the place.  Even now in mid April it's still buried under 1-3 feet of snow.  I don't know if the currant will spring back up or suffer from this abuse.

This could be an advantage for a plant that needs to be insulated (figs?).

I know I could do many herbaceous plants but I'm hoping for more shrubby things.  Trees might be an option if they can survive the avalanches in the first few years.

I'm in zone 4a.  Any ideas?
 
Mike Haasl
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Here's a pic from yesterday
The-currant-bush-is-under-that-pile-somewhere....jpg
The currant bush is under that pile somewhere...
The currant bush is under that pile somewhere...
 
gardener
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Hey Mike,

Do you just want a bush or do you want something to eat?  Either way, I would be tempted to think about a blueberry bush.  Once established, they might live a century.  I planted some in some low ground and the ones that took are seemingly there for good.

Eric
 
Mike Haasl
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Oh, yes, something permaculturey.  So food would be my first preference, followed by either pollination services or herbs.  

Do you think a blueberry can handle getting squashed?  It's moist enough for them...  Aronia would like the moisture but I'm pretty sure they're too brittle for the crush of snow.  Elderberry?

I'm just not sure what is flexible enough to handle flattening...

Oh, and I don't want raspberries or blackberries.  Plenty of them growing wild plus cultivated ones elsewhere on the property
 
Eric Hanson
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Mike,

I think that squashing would only be an issue when small.  Seems like after a few years they are very hardy.  I tend to think of blueberries as a Northern fruit.  I live in a more Southern climate (but I miss the Northern climate and I especially miss snow) that is not as conducive to blueberries, but still, there they stand.

Eric
 
Mike Haasl
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Yeah but...  This isn't normal snow.  This is 2 feet of snow on the roof, all sliding off at the same time.  Kablammo.  If you're under it when it goes, it would be a safety issue.  So whatever plant is down there needs to be ok with being rapidly flattened to the ground somewhere around March 1st.
 
pollinator
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hey mike

Here is a suggestion..

What if you found a long handled pole( like a extendable paint handle) and put a piece of a board on the end of it. Than once the snow starts to melt, you can start pulling the snow off of the roof. I suggest this because i have done this and do it every year. I mainly am doing it to the roofs which do not have a decent roof pitch. This might make the "impact" of the snow be more manageable.

Without a doubt heavy snow is very dangerous for anything underneath it.  

Maybe if the roof was cleaned off some of it would make it more bearable for these berry shrubs to grow?
 
Mike Haasl
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I do have a similar thing to a roof rake, called an "avalanche".  I actually do clean that roof off once in a while but I need to leave some snow on so that I can clear snow off the barn it's attached to.  If all the snow is gone it's too slippery to walk on.  I can't get all the barn snow though and when the barn snow sheds and hits the lean to, they both crash down onto the plants.  

Even if I could gently get the snow down onto them, I wouldn't want have plantings that require me to be that watchful.  All it takes is one snowfall followed by a warm late winter day to have it happen.  If I'm away for a few days, all is lost.

I could put one of those snow stopper things on the end of the lean to roof to keep it from sheeting off...  But then I'd worry that the snow load would get to be too much.  I already get worried that a crush of snow from the barn will destroy the lean to.
 
Mike Haasl
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A lot of melting had happened by the time I took that picture.  In late February that pile was nearly up to the roof
 
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What if you sprung for larger plants at the outset? I'm not positive a fully mature blueberry would handle the snow either but you could look at buying a plant that was mature enough to handle the snow load at the outset.

More expensive investment which also means more to lose if it fails but I think if you planted something after the snow fell off the roof by the next spring the crushing would probably just result in free pruning
 
pollinator
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Sun chokes. They would really build the soil there. They can take a beating, snow or heavy rain. Four years ago I planted mine on a downhill slope headed down to my creek. Not only did they stop the erosion they actually made their own small terrace. Below them I now have elderberries, hops and grapes planted. They only downside I can think of is the wall of sunflowers you’ll have there late summer. They’re pretty but it gets hard to see through them.
 
Mike Haasl
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Thanks Scott!  I have a few sunchokes planted in my food forest that I still have to taste test.  If they're yummy and agree with my tummy, they're definitely an option.  Many herbaceous perennials would work too since they come up from the ground each year.  I was just testing the waters to see if there are berry bushes that would survive.  It's sounding like there aren't any.
 
Scott Stiller
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I like them raw but not too many. Man, they make some kind of painful gas bubble! 😂
 
Scott Stiller
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My choke terrace.
A1C6BD8B-8FD9-4D44-A8B3-81924304424F.jpeg
[Thumbnail for A1C6BD8B-8FD9-4D44-A8B3-81924304424F.jpeg]
 
We've gotta get close enough to that helmet to pull the choke on it's engine and flood his mind! Or, we could just read this tiny ad:
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