SPECIAL BRANCHES; Trees can provide fruit, blossom, shape and colour, bringing a special and lasting joy to your garden. You just need to pick the right one for you.
There is something wonderfully permanent about planting a tree.
You can use them to mark a special event and let them serve as a beautiful living reminder. Maybe you want a tree to bring home-grown produce, like apples, pears and cherries? Or perhaps you're planting it for wonderful spring blossom, autumn colour and to host nesting birds? Whatever the reason, picking the right one for your garden is all part of the fun and getting it in the ground is easy enough.
There are many types, from small ornamental trees with beautiful blossom to towering conifers with winter colour.
Fruit trees often provide beautiful blossom, fantastic autumn colour and, of course, fruits. Apple, pear, cherry, plum and even almond trees grow well in the UK. Many people think you need a lot of space to grow fruit trees but, actually, you just need to ensure it gets pollinated. Do this by buying two compatible trees to pollinate each other or buy a self-pollinating tree if you have room for only one.
If your neighbour has a fruit tree, get a compatible tree to pollinate the other and vice versa.
For very small gardens, bush apple trees are available and you can also buy a family tree, which has different apple varieties that will pollinate each other. I'd go for Laxton's Superb for a small self-pollinating apple tree that brings pretty spring colour and tasty apples. Bear in mind, most fruit trees require a sunny spot.
Trees can also be a fantastic ornamental addition, forming the basis for a wider garden design. Think olive trees in a Mediterranean-style garden or acers in a Japanese-style set-up.
Prunus Pendula 'Rosea' is an excellent weeping ornamental cherry with arching branches that drip with pale pink flowers in spring. It is perfect for smaller spaces. Or try the elegant Pyrus Salicifolia 'Pendula' in a sunny spot or Betula pendula 'Youngii' for ornamental bark.
The autumn garden is a sight to behold and choosing trees for colour really adds to this effect. Japanese maples are an obvious choice and there is a huge variety. I really like Acer palmatum 'Trompenburg' for its interesting colour-changing foliage that starts off purple in spring then turns vibrant orange in autumn.
Blue spruce, Picea glauca, is a good choice to add fascinating winter foliage. Norway Maple 'Drummondii' has dazzling autumn display. Some trees, such as the magnolia, are grown simply for their exquisite spring flowers. The Magnolia x Soulangeana has beautiful goblet shaped pink and creamy white flowers, and the Malus x moerlandsii 'Profusion' gives stunning carmine blossoms.
Crataegus laevigata 'Paul's Scarlet' is often grown for its light red flowers in spring and glossy green summer leaves.
You can buy trees pre-grown in pots. Once you have got them home, soak thoroughly in its pot and leave overnight, placing in a shady area until ready to plant.
Dig a hole twice as big as the pot it came in. Lightly fork over soil at the bottom and sides of hole, and line with compost.
Remove weeds or large stones from the planting site. When you put your tree in the hole, do not plant it any deeper than the soil level of the pot it came in. A common mistake people make is to plant trees too deep.
If your tree is in an exposed area or is very top heavy, stake it for support, then water in well. It is especially important when planting trees in summer to water well right through the season.
deep thinking Put lot of thought into ideal location, but don't plant too deeply
core values Apple trees bring beauty and fat crop. Left, magnificent Magnolia and, below left, pear trees