Trees, trees, trees............
If you have been out and about lately - have you looked up?
It may be because life has shrunk recently, but to me the trees are looking extra stunning this year - almost like they are trying to help cheer us all up.
Of course that is utter romanticised nonsense - they always look great at this time of year - but this year we all have time to look, see and feel their impact properly. Not a bad lesson in this year of crazy.
So, you've seen the trees and think - wait, I can have one of those...but perhaps I can't, because:
- my garden is too small
- trees are too expensive
- Will it grow too big and fall on my house
- I don't know where to start / what to do
To the top 3 points above? all myths really - there is a tree for every space (even balconies) and the right tree in a small garden actually makes it look and feel larger.
Expensive? not really, if you think of them as an investment. 14 years ago I spent £30 on a twig of an Acer Bloodgood - my partners favourite tree (we had one in a rented house we - so in an attempt to get him interested in the garden, it was my first purchase at our first home together. He's still the Under Gardener, so didn't work that well...), and its now 7 feet tall and just fabulous. Take a look below.
Convinced? Want to buy a tree? Trees take space so need to work hard. Go for interest all year round. Use them as pictures framed in a view from inside, and make sure you look after them in their first year (water, water, water). Then, sit back and wonder at their magnificence for the next 20, 30 or however many years.
Here are my Top 3 that can work in any size garden, big or small (and even in a very large container if necessary) - and they won't grow to big and fall on your house.
Amelanchier arborea Robin Hill
The King, Queen and President of small garden trees for me. Starts off with amazing blossom, then gorgeous green leaves that turn an amazing red in Autumn. It grows to approx. 6m when mature (after 20 years) with a spread of approx. 4m. It grows well in most lime free soils. If you have poor soil, invest in good organic content for the tree pit, 1m x 1m, that you plant it in. I'm a designer, so love a multi stem (pic on right), but if you go for a standard (middle pic) it will be easier to add planting underneath. It could be plants in pots that you rotate if you are in a small courtyard garden. Totally beautiful.
Expect to pay £70 - £100 for a 2m tree
2. Betula utilis jaquemontii Snow Queen
The pure white peeling shiny bark of this tree is the star all year round. It lights up a shady corner. It also has a nice open canopy when in leaf, so is useful in urban area at not shading out neighbours etc...Growing to approx 7m tall and with a 3m spread, it will tolerate most soils and looks great as a single feature tree or in groups - especially effective for winter interest (if you have the room).
Expect to pay £50 for a 2-2.5m high tree
3. Prunus Kanzan
Who doesn't like a flowering cherry tree - and this is considered one of the best.
It grows to approx. 6m tall and 4m in spread. Compact, bijou and perfect. Great in most soils, except shallow chalky soil or very water logged. (There is tree for that too, Betula Nigra - the river birch -guess what, you'll see it near rivers...…..).
Just to finish, you want a tree, you've picked a tree and well, where do you put it? what to do with it? Here is some inspiration - or just call a Garden Designer...