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Trees for Small Gardens

Last week we gave you information on proper pruning techniques and its many benefits, however even the most dedicated maintenance cannot make a large tree suitable for a small garden. This week we address this with a list of smaller trees that are ideally suited to such a calling. All of them are rated by the RHS as H4, or ‘hardy’ so will be suitable for most gardens, and all are quite easy to grow.

Floral and Hardy’s Top Five Small Trees:

image of Tradescantia virginiana ‘Concord grape’

Prunus ‘Amanogawa’

This is a particularly good variety of Cherry to grow if you have a small space to fill and don’t want too wide a canopy of branches, as it is columnar in habit, hence its common name of ‘Pencil Cherry’.  It has wonderful, semi-double, pale pink blossom in May and fantastic autumn foliage colours. It will grow to between 4 and 8 metres tall and is extremely durable. Preferring a well-drained soil, this cultivar is indifferent to its placement in the garden, doing well in shade or sun, regardless of exposure.

image of Cercis ‘Forest Pansy’

Cercis ‘Forest Pansy’

Cercis, native of Mediterranean areas and has the nick-name ‘Judas Tree’, as legend has it that it was the tree on which Judas hanged himself, but don’t let that put you off! This variety is grown as much for its stunning foliage as the flowers, as it is possessed of large, heart-shaped, deep purple  leaves with only small pinkish flowers on the bare branches before the leaves appear. It needs a position in full sun, dislikes cold or clay gardens and will grow to about 5-6ms tall.

image of Malus ‘Evereste’

Malus ‘Evereste’

This ‘Crab Apple’ is another hardy addition to our list that will produce fragrant, shallow cupped flowers, red in bud opening to white, in the spring time, followed by orange-red edible fruits. These would require cooking to be edible, but generally it’s best to leave them on the tree so they can form nature’s own baubles in the winter time. Overall it will assume a conical shape about 7ms tall and from spring to autumn it will provide a changing spectacle of colour.

image of Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’

Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’

The ecology of the ‘Japanese Maple is referred to as an understory plant, in that in its woodland habitat it will reach heights expected of a mid-level shrub. In the average garden though, these limitations may be surpassed due to the extra sunlight, compared with its endemic conditions. This variety has purple, deeply lobed leaves, turning bright red in autumn and will reach a height of around 6-8ms. It prefers an acid, moist, but well drained soil, clay or sand based and should be placed in full or partial shade. Water in the summer, if necessary.

image of Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo

The ‘Strawberry Tree’ is a good choice if you want a small evergreen tree, (although it is technically a shrub). The tree is slow-growing, but has year-round interest with its glossy, dark green foliage, white, pendant flowers and edible, but flavourless orange-red, strawberry-like fruits in autumn. It also has a long life span of 20-50 years with an ultimate height of 4-8 metres. It prefers well-drained but moist soil, preferably acidic though neutral will do, and clay/sand based is best.

By Josh Ellison

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