Leafing through tree choices

PA Photo/thinkstockphotos
PA Photo/thinkstockphotos

There’s no better time to plant trees and conifers, particularly bare-root ones, when the plants are dormant but the soil is still warm enough for the roots to become established before spring.

So if you’re planting a tree during National Tree Week, which runs from November 29 to December 7, consider firstly your situation and how much space you have.

Trees can create privacy, shade, dramatic impact, colour and fruit, as well as movement and architectural form. The height and structure of the types you choose are as important in a small garden as they are in a large one.

If you have a small space, consider choosing a narrow tree with minimal spread, which will provide height and structure. Alternatively, you may prefer one landmark spreading tree with a canopy which casts dappled shade but allows for some planting underneath. Compact ‘weeping’ trees, such as a weeping pear (Pyrus salicifolia) could be used as a focal point. If your space is really limited, you could plant a carefully trimmed tree in a large pot.

Excellent trees for small gardens include Amelanchier lamarckii, whose graceful branches carry copper-hued new leaves in spring along with starry, white flowers. In autumn the leaves often colour brilliantly too.

If you have room for two trees, try to combine two trees which have a different season of interest, such as a photinia - an evergreen with new red growth in late spring - and sorbus, which has lovely autumn hues and dazzling berries.