Friday, 21 September 2012 00:00

Tree Time

“Plant here, for other eyes that kingly tree, Whose reign we shall not see.  Choose well that spot, that other eyes may bless, its natural loveliness”.  Alfred Noyes, poet (1880-1958)

In 2010 the Woodland Trust launched its ‘More Trees, More Good’ campaign, which called for a massive increase in tree planting across the UK.  Not just large-scale woodland planting but planting trees in urban and suburban settings too.  If you take a typical neighbourhood and add up all the trees in all the streets and gardens, you will find an equivalent number of trees to those in a traditional forest.  These ‘urban forests’ contribute hugely to the quality of life aesthetically, socially and environmentally so anyone with a bit of green space should consider planting a tree.

In a garden setting trees provide valuable vertical interest and a third dimension to even the smallest of spaces.  The right tree in the right place contributes to the atmosphere of the whole garden and adds weight and a sense of connection with past and future.  A well-placed tree provides all sorts of practical benefits too; screening for privacy, shade, shelter, a habitat for wildlife as well as beauty through shape, flowers, berries and decorative bark or leaf colour at different times of the year.   
Choosing the right tree should be a big decision, and can involve a large financial investment.    That said, it is one of the most unselfish gifts you can give to future generations and nothing beats the satisfaction of knowing you are leaving a living legacy.  
So here are the essentials to consider in choosing the right tree for your garden:

Ultimate size:  Trees are described as ‘Small’ (5-10m high), ‘Medium’ (10-20m high) and ‘Large’ (20m+ high).  Different trees grow at different rates so some trees can take 50 years to reach maturity, whereas others get there a lot quicker.   How big a tree can your garden cope with?
Spread:  how wide will the tree become?  Upright (‘fastigate’) trees take up less room and can be useful for small spaces but others need room to expand.  
Soil, Moisture and Aspect: next you must match the tree with the growing conditions of your site.  For example, a beech tree likes a garden with chalky soil and will struggle in one with light sandy soil.  Very wet, dry or exposed sites also require careful selection, as do acid soils.  Fortunately there is a tree for almost every situation.   
Evergreen or deciduous:  evergreen trees have a more definite outline shape, don’t change that much from season to season, and provide a solid block of greenery,  while deciduous trees tend to have a looser shape, especially in summer and let more light through in winter once they have lost their leaves.  Interest varies from season to season through the production of flowers, berries, seed pods, fruits, nuts or cones.  
Shape and Leaf Colour:  trees come in all shapes – columnar, upright, conical, domed, rounded and weeping.  Leaf shape and colour also have to be considered – for example, golden foliage warms up a garden even on dull days, silver and grey leaves reflect the light and give a Mediterranean feel, while purple foliage absorbs light and can feel dull unless positioned carefully as a foil for lighter plants.

  • © Jane Jordan Gardens 2018