Trees in UK Garden Design
With the season for bare root tree planting drawing to a close, we have compiled some essential advice and nominated some of our favourite specimens that can hopefully save you time and money when choosing, buying and planting trees in your garden. Bare root specimens are considerably cheaper than container grown and it’s not too late to take advantage if you get your skates on.
Growing trees is, for many reasons, one of the single most advantageous practices in UK garden design. Tree roots are an essential component in the maintenance of both nutrients and structural integrity within soil. They are natures levee’s against excessive water displacement and help to prevent flooding and further dispersal, not to mention they replenish the carbon content of soil through photosynthesis, whilst also cleaning the local air supply.
Speaking of environment, trees also provide nesting sites and food sources to thousands of species of birds, insects and mammals who in turn will increase the biodiversity of your garden.
Any gardener worth their soil also understands the value of composting, not only from an ecological perspective, but a financial one as well, and trees can provide a near limitless source of compostable waste, from bark to leaves.
UK garden design practices have often overlooked the value of trees in a domestic garden, due to the increasing obsession with contemporary formality and symmetry, but please find below a selected shortlist of small garden trees, whose many and varied benefits you could enjoy in your own garden:
Amelanchier alnifolia ‘Obelisk’: A narrow, upright tree which produces white clustered blooms in spring, dark green summer foliage and striking reds and oranges in the autumn, reaching a height of 4m.
Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’: A deciduous plant that straddles the border between shrub and tree, gracefully gifting us with pink blooms on bare stems in spring followed by deep purple foliage as it does so. Reaches heights of up to 4-5m.
Prunus ‘The Bride’ AGM: This small member of the Cherry family will produce pentagonal white blooms with rosy stamens in spring, has good autumn foliage colour and grows to between 3-4m.
Prunus ‘Pink Perfection’ AGM: Another ornamental Cherry with blousy pink blossom mid-late spring and fabulous autumn coloured foliage. Will reach heights of around 6m.
Sorbus ‘Eastern Promise’ AGM: A beautiful fruit bearing variety whose coral rouge berries appear almost as miniature Christmas ornaments on its narrow columns of variegated foliage, which also gives good autumn colour. Height 6m.
Sorbus ‘Sunshine’: As above, but the largest variety on the list, whose name stems (no pun intended) from the globes of oranges and yellow fruit it produces. Height 7-8m.
Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’ AGM: As member of the Acer family, known for their trade mark, deeply cut foliage, this one has bright greenish-yellow leaves and will achieve a height of 6m.
Acer pseudoplatanus ‘Brilliantissimum’ AGM: This variety has shrimp pink foliage in spring and yellow-green flowers followed by red winged fruits. Height 5-6m.
Some cursory notes for the would-be tree grower – try to get your plant into the ground as soon as possible after purchase and it is best to soak bare-rooted trees or shrubs for about 30 minutes prior to planting to give their hydration a head start before their roots become established. Also, make sure that the first spread of roots are level with the soil surface before submerging and give your tree a stake to support it until it gets settled in.