Trees add height, structure and wildlife habitats to gardens. When choosing a tree it’s vital to research eventual heights and spread. Smaller trees may, in time, reach over six metres and that can cause problems for the rest of the garden – due to excessive shade – and for your neighbours.
Trees are either deciduous or evergreen and this could influence your choice. Evergreens are great for screening and deciduous may have the added interest of autumn colour (they’re also a rich source of leaves to make leaf mould).
The amount of interest the specimen provides is another important factor when considering which tree to choose.
In a small garden a tree will stand out more, so you may want to consider a specimen that looks good in every season. Whereas in a larger garden, where other trees can fill in any interest gaps, a tree may only have to provide, say, autumn colour.
And of course like every other plant in your garden, you should always match your tree to your soil conditions and location.
The actual choice of trees is extensive, but for smaller gardens a beautiful specimen commonly called Serviceberry or Amelanchier x grandiflora “Ballerina” has to be at the top of the list.
The early spring growth is a delightful coppery colour; the tree then produces beautiful starry white flowers. As summer progresses the leaves turn a delightful rich green and the fruits swell and flush red, you’re then treated to a spectacular autumn colour show, before birds then feast on the berries over winter.
Truly a tree for all seasons, most soil conditions and only growing – after 10 years – to around six metres without any restrictive pruning.
Larger gardens can accommodate a longer list of trees, but ornamental cherries and pears for spring flowers, Liquidambar for the very best autumn colour and Parrotia persica for winter structure have to be on any gardener’s shortlist.
Autumn is the best time to plant all trees, as the soil is moist and warm after summer. As a rough guide, when the leaves are falling from deciduous trees, that is the time to get planting.
Always plant at the same depth as the tree was growing in its pot in the nursery bed, and provide a stake to support the tree in its first few years.
At planting time, sprinkle mycorrhizal fungi onto the tree roots to help establish a healthy population of these friendly and beneficial organisms which help the tree take up water and nutrients.
You only want to plant a tree once so it’s worth planting it right.
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