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.