Choosing a tree for your garden.
Fast-growing trees: Trees take many years to develop their mature size and shape. If you are looking for trees that are fast growing then consider some of these, all of which can grow a metre or more per year: Tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), maple, birch, hornbeam (Carpinus), poplar and paulownia.
Beautiful autumn foliage: New England and Canada are famed for their bronzeŚred autumn foliage, and you can achieve the same effect in your garden.
- Golden: Try the maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba) or the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) for golden autumn leaves.
- Golden yellow to purplish-violet: The sweet gum (Liquidambar styraci?ua) ‘Lane Roberts’ has dramatic autumn colouring.
- Blood-red: The scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea) ‘Splendens’ or the red maple (Acer rubrum) have deep rich foliage.
- Bronze: Don’t forget about deciduous conifers such as the golden larch (Pseudolarix amabilis) or the swamp cypress (Taxodium distichum), whose needles turn an amazing bronze colour just before they fall.
- Decorative bark: Everyone recognises the white bark of the common birch, but what about that of the Himalayan birch (Betula utilis), which is pale pink? Many trees are grown especially for their decorative bark, to brighten up the Winter months. The plane tree is one example and so is the flowering cherry (Prunus sargentii). The Tibetan cherry (Prunus serula) has walnut brown bark that peels off in horizontal strips to reveal shiny red bark below, and the paper-cinnamon-coloured bark that detaches by rolling up on itself.
- Other magnificent examples of decorative bark include Eucalyptus niphophila and Betula nigra.
Trees for screening: In windy and exposed locations, trees can be used as an effective windbreak. Plant them densely to form a screen that will shelter the rest of the garden.
- Remember that it is better to filter the wind to diminish its force rather than to block it with a solid wall, which will create inevitable turbulence.
Blue shades: Some conifers have grey-blue foliage Ś not only the Lawson cypress (Chamaecyparis
lawsoniana) ‘Pembury Blue’ and the celebrated blue Colorado spruce (Picea pungens) ‘Hoopsii’ , but also the blue Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica) and the flaky juniper (Juniperus squamata) ‘Meyeri’.
- The bluish colour of these conifers changes, depending on the intensity and amount of available light and the concentration of humidity in the air. It also varies according to the tree’s general state of health.
Beware falling objects: The fruits of conifers are cones. Some are striking, such as those of the Korean fir (Abies koreana), which produces violet-coloured cones from an early age, or those of the blue Arizona fir (Abies lasciocarpa), which are red and pendulous, measuring 7cm in length. Beware of parking or lying under the canopy of a tree bearing cones.
Trees for chalky soil... While an alkaline soil restricts the choices for your garden, there are many handsome species that tolerate it. Among the evergreens, choose holly, yew and juniper. Suitable broad-leaved trees include the whitebeam (Sorbus aria), beech, liquidambar and lime.
.....and acid soil: Most trees will grow in slightly acid soil, but some are rather more demanding and need a soil that is completely limeŚfree. These are notably the Judas tree (Cercis siliquastrum), red maple (Acer rubrum), Persian parrotia (Parrotia persica) and Cercidiphyllum japonicum.
Invasive roots: Some trees have extensive roots that can lift paths and terraces, or possibly even crack the Walls of houses. The poplar, weeping willow, chestnut, oak and cedar, among others, should not be planted close to buildings.
- You can help to prevent roots from reaching too close to paving and pipes, or even encroaching on shrubs and young trees, with a dedicated root barrier. Sink a rigid, plastic panel into the ground about two metres from the trunk. These are the same panels used to keep bamboo under control.
- Never plant trees with extensive roots near the vegetable or fruit garden where you will need to dig regularly.
Trees are so varied that there is an interesting and attractive variety for any space you wish to fill, or any function you demand of it.
A conifer for your terrace.
White spruce (Piceo glauco var. albertiona)
Bosnian pine (Pinus leucodermis)
Flaky juniper (Juniperus squamata)
Holm oak (Quercus ilex)
Holly (ilex aquifolium] ’Argentea marginata'
Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)
A weeping tree for your garden.
Blue Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica glauca)
Weeping ash (Fraxinus excelsior) ’Pendula’
Japanese pagoda tree (Sophora japonica)
Willow (Salix alba) ’Tristis'
Beech (Fagus sylvatica)
A scented tree.
Eucalyptus [Eucalyptus gunnii)
Paulownia (P. fargesii or P. tomentosa)
False acacia [Robinia pseudoacacia)
Manna ash (Fraxinus ornus)
Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum)
A tree with variegated foliage.
Poplar (Populus x condicans) ’Aurora'
Maple (Acer negundo) ’Variegatum’
A tree with purple foliage.
Beech [Fagus sylvatica) ’Riversii’
Cercis [Cercis canadensis) ’Forest Pansy’
Prunus (Prunus cerasifera) ‘Pissardii’
Maple (Acer palmatum) ’Atropurpureum’
A flowering tree.
Red horseŚchestnut (Aesculus x carnea)
Judas tree [Cercis siliquastrum)
Winter cherry (Prunus subhirtella) ’Autumnalis’
Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)
Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida)
Flowering crab apple (Malus) ’Evereste’
A tree with decorative fruit.
Mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia)
Mulberry tree (Morus) female specimen
Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba) female
Oriental plane tree [Platanus orientalis)
Flowering crab apple [Malus)