Evergreen and Deciduous Tree Types
6A. Trees –
Eucalyptus niphophila (Snow gum) There are few evergreen trees hardy in Britain, even fewer that are fast growing. The snow gum is about the best of these for thegardener as it does not get so large as the other hardy gum tree, the blue gum, Eucalyptus gunnii. The pale, mottled trunk and blue/grey green leaves are a striking combination. It is fairly upright in growth and may reach 30ft (9 m) but can be pruned to keep it smaller.
Arbutus unedo (tree) This one is a slow-growing evergreen that makes a multi-stemmed tree up to 20 ft (6 m) tall after many years. Very handsome dark green, leathery, tooth-edged leaves offset the small ivory bells in autumn. These slowly develop into red strawberry-like fruits by the time the next flowering comes around. May not fruit well until it is several years old. If you spot the hybrid Arbutus andrachnoides, this could be an even better choice as the trunks and older branches are a beautiful shining cinnamon brown.
6B. Trees –
Cercis siliquastrum (Judas tree) This is a low branching tree with distinctive round glaucous green leaves and clusters of pinky lilac flowers, just before the leaves open in April and May, even on the trunk. May reach 20ft (6 m) in a warm garden.
Magnolia X soulangiana This is the commonest magnolia andjairly easy to grow. It has the same low-branching habit as the Judas tree, with large goblet-shaped flowers on the bare branches in spring and a few late flowers after the leaves open in May. They are white with a purplish stain at the base of each petal but can be rosy purple all over the outside in the variety ‘Lennei’. ‘Rustic Rubra’ is redder in colour. In ‘Alba Superba’ the flowers are pure white. In a good soil these can reach 15ft (4.5 m) with a 12ft (3.5 m) spread but can be pruned after flowering with careful thought to the shape of the tree. The varieties ‘Picture’ and ‘Sundew’ are naturally more upright growing and have very fine flowers with a purple and rosy pink stain respectively.
Gleditsia triacanthos ‘Sunburst’ (Honey locust) A North American tree that needs warm summers to grow well. The finely divided pinnate leaves are a striking yellow in spring and mature to pale green. The young leaves are yellow throughout the summer. It slowly reaches 15ft (4.5m) and the growth is rather twiggy. The branches are brittle so it needs shelter from the wind.
Sorbus ‘Joseph Rock’ and ‘Embley’ (Mountain ash or rowan) Two excellent and interesting trees for the small garden. Both grow 15-25ft (4.5-7.5m) and have a neat upright habit. The pinnate leaves (like an ash tree) are mid-green and turn splendid shades of red, yellow and orange in autumn. ‘Joseph Rock’ has yellow berries and ‘Embley’ orange-red ones. The smallest rowan that forms a real tree is Sorbus cashmiriana which is a slender tree to 12 ft (3.5m) or so and has large round white berries that hang for a few months. Good against a dark evergreen. The leaves fall a month earlier than most trees.
Sorbus ‘Wilfred Fox’ (Whitebeam) The whitebeams have simple greyish leaves but are rather too round crowned for. Two are slim crowned, this one and Sorbus thibetica, but both are hard to find in nurseries. The lovely greyish foliage is gently set off by creamy white flowers in May and sombre brown-speckled berries in autumn. Both grow slowly to 20ft (6 m).
Prunus hillieri ‘Spire’ (Flowering) A full-sized Japanese flowering may swamp your garden with its broad crown and dull summer leaves. However, there are a few with an upright habit and smaller, daintier leaves which turn orange and scarlet in autumn. The flowers are smaller and single but as they only last two or three weeks this is a small sacrifice for a better garden tree. ‘Spire’ has pale pink flowers in mid spring and can reach 25ft (7.5m). ‘Pandora’ is similar but a little earlier and shorter in growth. ‘Kursar’ is even earlier and even smaller, while ‘Shosar’ is paler pink, a little taller and a little later flowering. ‘Amanogawa’ is closest to a big flowered cherry, very upright and with double pale pink flowers. Let it branch from near the ground or it looks like a besom.
Betula jacquemontii (Himalayan birch) For a really white trunk this is the one to choose – even the branches are dazzling white. Fairly upright habit and leaves that turn gold in autumn. Usually under 20ft (6m) high. Our native birch has a selection Betula pendula ‘Tristis’ with a straight white trunk and fairly horizontal branches with drooping branchlets. A very elegant outline growing up to 30ft (9m).
Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair tree) An unusual tree, in fact a primitive conifer found fossilised in coal measures hundreds of millions of years old. A few survived in China and so we can grow it for its fan-shaped pale green leaves (like a maidenhair fern). Slow-growing with a stout winter outline. May reach 50 ft (15 m) after many many years and has quite a narrow habit. Lovely autumn foliage.
Metasequoia glyptostroboides (Dawn redwood) Another primitive conifer found in China. Very ferny foliage and a slender conical habit. The leaves, at first light green, often have a burnished tinge and turn soft brown with a tinge of pink in autumn. Grows to 30ft (9m), quite fast in moist conditions. Orange bark with red/brown tinge.
Malus floribunda (Flowering crab) If you need a tree with a low, wide-spreading crown, what could be more enchanting than the soft cloud of deep pink buds and pale pink to white flowers of this spring-flowering tree. A little dull after it has flowered but the small leaves mean that it is not so oppressive. Reaches about 15ft (4.5m) and can spread about as much.
Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’ (Willow leaved pear) Fully dome-shaped with weeping branches to the ground, this popular tree has narrow silvery leaves. Should be trained up a stout stake or it will tend to sprawl. Can reach 12ft (3.5m) or so.
Standard Roses Neat miniature trees but need a permanent stake and tie. Weeping standards have a climbing or rambling rose budded on top of the stem and some people prefer to train them over a wire dome to make them graceful. Prune as for bush roses, climbers or ramblers respectively.