Tall trees for flow­ers and fo­liage


The flow­er­ing mag­no­lia in this pic­ture is thought to be around a cen­tury old and still blooms mag­nif­i­cently ev­ery year in Au­gust – a wel­come sight in late win­ter.

Its craggy grey/ brown limbs pro­vide an in­ter­est­ing sculp­tural fea­ture alone but when those large pink buds ap­pear, the an­tic­i­pa­tion of a beau­ti­ful show be­gins.

The tree was planted be­fore any of the houses were built around it, when the land be­longed to a large park-like es­tate host­ing gar­den par­ties and tours when fam­ily Sun­day out­ings in­volved get­ting the horse and gig ready; but now it is a star mark­ing a subur­ban en­trance­way.

A flow­er­ing tree is a mag­nif­i­cent sight and some­thing to be­hold on a large sec­tion or where it can be ad­mired by sev­eral house­holds. Those of the de­cid­u­ous va­ri­eties will still let win­ter sun shine in and pro­vide wel­come shade in sum­mer. Shrubs that flower are a good op­tion to frame gates, drive­ways or to brighten up oth­er­wise dull spots in the win­ter or early spring gar­den.

One of the most-loved of the flow­er­ing na­tive shrubs is the hebe. With about 80 species there are plenty to choose from and they grow eas­ily enough from cut­tings taken from shrub or small tree­sized spec­i­mens. A taller na­tive is the kowhai, its golden blooms pro- vid­ing a feast for tui and kereru.

The tree fuch­sia, or ko­tuku­tuku, grows to 10 me­tres and pro­duces red-pur­ple flow­ers shaped like the ex­otic fuch­sias more fa­mil­iar in cul­ti­vated gar­den beds.

Manuka and kanuka trees pro­duce their dis­tinc­tive and small red, pink or white blooms on at­trac­tive and some­times dark fo­liage which is use­ful in vases as well as bright­en­ing the gar­den.

Lace­bark too, has del­i­cate white flow­ers and of course, though not a tree, the na­tive flax sends up tall flower spikes ir­re­sistible to birds and ad­mired by passers-by.

For bird lovers, the tall nikau palm pro­vides in­ter­est­ing flower and berry spikes that also sup­ply berries for hun­gry birds such as the kereru.

Per­haps the most well-known na­tive flow­er­ing tree is po­hutukawa, its red or orange bristly blooms cel­e­brat­ing high sum­mer and Christ­mas. There are smaller va­ri­eties than the tow­er­ing trees that are al­lowed to grow to their max­i­mum height mak­ing them avail­able to most ev­ery­one.

Mem­bers of the dog­wood tree fam­ily have at­trac­tive flow­ers in spring with the bonus of pretty au­tumn fo­liage as well.

Flow­er­ing cherry trees give a beau­ti­ful show and have been pop­u­lar throughout time in many cul­tures. Even some tall hy­drangeas can reach flow­er­ing heights of 2m and 4m.

Acidic soil lovers, the rhodo­den­drons are favoured by many for their colourful blooms.

When choos­ing a large flow­er­ing tree to be a gar­den fo­cal point the most im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion is the size the tree will grow to but con­sider also if its blooms will har­monise with flow­er­ing shrubs and trees al­ready present. And with any de­cid­u­ous tree, if it is large, there will be leaves in au­tumn and piles of petals as new leaf growth fol­lows the flow­ers – the price you pay for a stun­ning land­mark tree.

Fol­low­ing per­ma­cul­ture prin­ci­ples, flow­er­ing trees ought to be use­ful as well as beau­ti­ful. The blos­soms of fruit trees may not last as long as other flow­ers, but they can be just as at­trac­tive and have the bonus of an ed­i­ble crop to fol­low. Dwarf va­ri­eties mean many more types of fruit trees can be grown in a smaller space.

Trees add form and struc­ture to a gar­den, are a haven for birds, and can give a mass of flow­er­ing colour.

Bloom­ing beauty: A tall mag­no­lia steals the show each year with its bou­quet of blooms.

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