Thursday, 6 March 2014

Can You See The Wood For The Trees?

Considering the importance trees play in our lives it is extraordinary how little thought we give them and how they are literally and figuratively overlooked.  

Perhaps, given the recent storms, you may have lost a tree and can therefore see what a huge difference their presence makes in our landscape.

An English Oak.

Trees are vital.  The benefits and uses to which they can be put are huge.  Trees give structure, height, shade, shelter and screening, they offer year round interest with flowers, leaves, berries and bark, they absorb excess rainwater, balance the temperature under their canopies, they give homes and food to large numbers of birds and wildlife.  And they are also rather beautiful and good to hug, should you be so inclined.

Tree planting is not to be undertaken lightly.  It really is important to get the right tree for the job you want it to do. 

Malus Hupehensis.

There is a tree suitable for almost every garden in a huge variety of sizes, shapes and colours.  What do you want from your tree?  Is it to be a single specimen?  Do you want to frame a view or hide something unsightly?  Evergreen or deciduous?  What about shape?  Think about what would look best in your intended space.

Trees are classified into three size groups:
·         Small (5-10 metres high)
·         Medium (10-20 metres high)
·         Large (20+ metres high)

Do not underestimate size.  It is tragic to see a tree which is growing too large having to be hacked about to try and keep it contained.  Try to imagine your tree 50 or 100 years from now.  If you are planting a really long lived variety it might well still be around in 1000 years. 

Some of my favourites include:

Small Gardens
Amelanchier lamarckii – beautiful flowers, berries and autumn colour.
Corylus avellana ‘Zellernus’ – pink catkins, purple foliage and edible nuts.

Spring Blossom
Malus hupehensis - a crab apple with astonishingly beautiful blossom.
Sorbus aucuparia - our native rowan with lovely white flowers and splendid autumn berries.

Acer Griseum.

Interesting Bark
Prunus serrula ‘Tibetica’ – shining polished mahogany.  A bit like a freshly opened conker.
Acer griseum – peeling amber and cinnamon coloured.

Ilex aquifolium Argentea Marginata – a small holly with white and pink edged leaves.
Pinus wallichiana – beautiful soft needles on a large conical tree.

Pinus Wallichiana, The Bhutan Pine.

Pinus nigra ‘Austriaca’ – good for any exposed site.  Long green needles.
Populus tremula – sparkles in the sun and very robust.  Also looks great in the Autumn.

Populus tremula in Autumn.

Autumn Colour
Liquidambar styraciflua Worplesdon – stunning large tree.
Parrotia persica ‘Vanessa’ – One of the finest small trees for autumn colour.

Parrotia persica or the Persian Ironwood in Autumn.

And last but not least;

Quercus robur – our native English Oak.  Home to over 600 species of mini-beast.  Huge and simply wonderful.  It is said that an oak takes 300 years to grow, is in its prime for the next 300 years and then takes 300 years to die.  Please plant one if you have the space.

I could go on...