Every garden can benefit from a few trees to give them scale, height, flowers, autumn colour and fruit. Trees encourage birds and other wildlife, screen eyesores and create impressive specimens in lawns and borders. Trees can be selected for any size of garden and may be ornamental, flowering and fruiting.
The largest gardens can enjoy a good specimen Cedar, silver weeping lime, purple beech or maple, but as garden size gets smaller we just choose the next smaller size to suit. There are numerous upright tree forms which can be very impressive but don’t take up much space such as hornbeam, oak and the upright cherry,
Amanagawa only needs a square metre. The weeping birch Betula pendula youngii
makes a brilliant specimen, especially if you train the leader upright for a
few years then let it weep. My other favourite birch is the pure white stemmed
Betula jacquemontii, making a very impressive specimen in all seasons. Then in
Scotland you must find space for a rowan, now available with a wide range of
different coloured berries.
|White stemmed birch tree|
Another favourite but needs space is the Eucalyptus gunnii. It is evergreen, hardy and fast growing.
Maples come in all sizes and the Japanese types such as Sangokaku makes a small tree with terrific autumn colour then attractive red stems in winter after leaf fall.
For the very small gardens the Kilmarnock willow and the dwarf weeping elm tree, Ulmus camperdownii, is well worth planting as they are both very attractive and the
Camperdown elm is our local elm. For a very small
garden you can still get a bit of height with the dwarf mountain pine, Pinus
mugo or slightly taller Pinus strobus nanus or the tree heath, Erica arborea. If
you want an evergreen, the hardy palm, Cordyline australis is quite happy as
long as global warming continues, but if we get another really bad winter it
can kill the top down to ground level, though usually it survives to grow on
again after a years recovery.
Cherries, crab apples, Magnolias, Eucryphia, Lilac and Amelanchier are all perfect for smaller gardens. Prunus Amanogawa is upright and quite narrow. Prunus Shirotae is spreading, but an absolute stunner in flower. Crab apples flower then have a crop of very bright small apples, e.g. John Downie. Some Magnolias are more large shrubs, but can attain a fair height when mature.
Eucryphia Rostrevor is slow growing but will make a tall white flowering tree in time.
If you prefer to have a fruiting tree then the choice can include apples, pears, plums, peaches, and cherries and even the fig will make a small fruiting tree. Modern dwarfing rootstocks now allow us to have apples, peaches and cherries that will happily fit into the small garden often trained against a south facing wall. Choose varieties that have healthy foliage as there are very few fungicides available to tackle scab, mildew or brown rot. I can recommend apple Discovery, Katy, Red Devil, Fiesta and Bramley for a good cooker. If space is limited try the columnar apple Starline Firedance. Victoria is still my favourite plum, and Avalon Pride a good peach with
resistance to peach leaf curl disease. Beurre
Hardy and Concord are my best pears, but newer varieties are appearing all the
time and it is good to try something different.
Wee jobs to do this week
Grape vines under glass and outdoors get pruned in December and January, but I retain several strong shoots to use as cuttings later on, but keep them moist by heeling in the soil in the greenhouse border. I take cuttings about two buds length and place then round the sides of a pot with a few draining compost. Place them indoors on a windowsill where they will get some warmth and light, but not direct sunlight. They should be rooted by late spring and ready for potting on.