Purple Wellies

One woman's musings of plant lust for intoxicating blooms

Tree Choices for Small Gardens

As we head into the autumn, our thoughts turn to tree planting. For small gardens careful consideration is needed. Consider the height and spread, which season of interest will it look good in, whether it is deciduous or evergreen, all the while selecting for the conditions and aspect of the site. I’ve picked out my top 5 choices.

Heptacodium miconioides is a great little tree adding lots of interest from late summer into autumn, when most trees have already flowered. The strongly scented, creamy-white blooms are popular with bees and butterflies. The red calyxes remain, to add further interest, once the flowers have finished. Coupled with peeling bark and curved foliage, which colours up in autumn, this is a fantastic choice for wildlife and small gardens.

The majority of Cornus kousa and Cornus florida trees make great choices. Cornus. florida ‘Rainbow’ has the addition of variegated foliage. I’m not a fan of this, but used sparingly it can add a little highlight to the planting. Large white bracts appear in spring before the foliage turns a fiery red around the margins in autumn creating its namesake ‘rainbow’ effect.

Malus ‘Adirondack’ is another all-rounder. Starting with carmine buds which open into blossom-like flowers in spring just as the foliage is pushing through. The red crab apple fruits seem to persist forever. Drought tolerant once established.

Magnolia liliiflora ‘Nigra’ is always hailed as a dark flowered magnolia. My own plant of this has always disappointed me as the colours just aren’t dark enough. Then I stumbled across Magnolia ‘Genie’. A result of some complex breeding over many years, with M. l. ‘Nigra’ as one of the parent plants, this has resulted in a far superior tree with very dark maroon flowers appearing both in spring and again in summer. If you are an impatient gardener, then this shouldn’t disappoint as flowers appear on young trees.

Salix babylonica ‘Crispa’ produces catkins in spring as with any willow, but when the foliage emerges the grey-green leaves are curled giving a striking appearance. Not as vigorous as other willows, but it can be hard pruned to keep the size in check.
Posted: 01/09/2021 17:12:54 by Pamela Barden