Always plant a tree, 5 good choices for any garden big or small

Always plant a tree, 5 good choices for any garden big or small

5 Trees to grace any garden

Looking at the title why am I starting with trees.  Can small gardens accommodate trees – even small ones?

I would have to concede some gardens are just too tiny for anything bigger than a bonsai pine, my point is don’t rule out a small ornamental tree.   My garden at home is 40m x 15m and I have 7 trees, including a Paperbark Maple, Gleditisia (now dead so looking for a replacement), Eucalypt, Cherry and Sorbus.  I love plants and want to grow as many as possible, but does this desire for quantity help to make a good garden?  Probably not – first the saying less is more can be applied to garden design and plant groupings, keeping things simple makes a lot of sense.  Secondly a garden crammed full of lots of small space saving specimens is not a garden at all, large structural and high impact plants can be worth 20 tiny alpine plants.  The choice is yours, all I am saying is bear in mind these thoughts whilst creating what you like that suits your desires and tastes.

Possible tree selections are endless, so I will suggest 5 that will give years of guaranteed pleasure:

Prunus x yedoensis – a very delicate pendulous flower which makes, the Prunus ‘Kanzan’, through no fault of its own, look over familiar. It flowers prolifically, even as a young specimen in late March to early April reaching a height of 8-10m in average garden conditions.


Acer griseum – come and have a look at ours here at Newby Hall and you will see why it is known as the Paperbark Maple.  Its peeling orange bark is visually stunning,  the Autumn colours are really good too.


Prunus serrula – another cherry but so very different, being grown for its mahogany bark.  It is impossible not to resist stroking the smooth polished trunk.

Betula utils var. jacquemontii – plant a single specimen or as a group there is nothing more striking than the pure white bark below clear blue skies on a winters morning.  Quick growing with a light canopy that allows plants to grow successfully beneath makes this tree an obvious small garden choice, to give even more impact grow a muti-stemmed tree.


Eucalyptus niphophila – another quick grower with evergreen foliage and dramatic bark patterns this is a hardy Eucalypt.

I am aware 4 of the 5 selections are grown for their interesting bark rather than flower, that’s fine as there are so many flowering shrubs, perennials and bulbs that will fill this role.

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