Large, sculptural, specimen trees, such as box cones and spirals in containers as big as boats, are fabulous but expensive for 2017, with 3m olive trees with trunks as thick as a man’s forearm starting at from €450- €3,000. Instantly gratifying in pimping the landscape, pom-pom topiary trees, ‘cloud pruned’ to bonsai forms (dubbed Dr Seuss trees by one witty admirer) are in strong evidence in garden centres all over Ireland this year.
Beyond Buxus, choices include fragrant and beautifully dense Pinus nigra and Cryptomeraia japonica (formidable if not trained) available in larger sizes from €150 and rising to the high hundreds. The size and formality of these pieces is what you’re paying for, so consider their placement and future maintenance when justifying the investment. Research Japanese Niwaki pruning before you buy.
Specimen tree from Caragh Nursery, caraghnurseries.ie.