Serves us right. For years we let our neighbours’ trees be the main barrier between the two households. Then they moved.
Mary Lovell-Smith suggests fastgrowing trees to grow for privacy
The house was sold and of course the new owners cut down all the trees, exposing us to them and them to us.
So now it’s a long-overdue replanting scheme down this, our eastern boundary – and I want plants that will grow fast and tall enough to stop them looking into our garden from their upstairs balcony. Which means the trees have to be about three to four metres high ASAP.
We’ve decided on a loose shrubbery rather than a hedge to cut down on pruning.
According to the Guiness Book of Records, the fastest growing plants are some species of bamboo, which can grow up to 91cm a day. Tempting, but given bamboos can grow up to 40m high, I know that other neighbours on our hill will object.
Other fast-growing trees include
Paulownia imperialis, which can grow up to 4.5m a year.
In three years, it should reach between 10 and 15 metres, with a maximum height at maturity of up to 15m. But its spread at that size might be too much for a narrow section.
On the plus side, its flowers are rather pretty – little purple-blue trumpets astride panicles up to 30cm long.
The elegant and evocative Lombardy poplars ( Populus nigra ‘Italica’) don’t have flowers.
They grow a comparatively measly 3m a year max, but reach up to 12m in three years, and up to 20m at maturity.
I‘ve read that lengths of branch up to 2.5m long can be inserted about 45cm deep along a trench and will leaf-up in spring, providing, if not immediate privacy, then shelter for more tender trees.
Pussywillow is a similar candidate – fast-growing and ridiculously easy to grow from cuttings.
Crepe myrtle grows about 1.5m a year up to 12m in three, and 20m in full flight.
Although often classified as a quick grower, Liriodendron tulipifera (the tulip tree) is comparitively tardy.
With its stunning green, yellow and orange tulip-shaped (of course) flowers, it reaches 4m in five years and 30m at maturity.
Being partial to natives, I could grow makomako.
Aristotelia serrata, aka wineberry, grows as fast as the tulip tree, that is about 4m in five years, to an ultimate and much more manageable height of 10m.
As an added bonus, birds also love the fruit which follow the small and pretty rose-pink flowers.
Tarata ( Pittosporum eugenioides), aka lemonwood, is another native possibility.
It is cited as being quick growing, but I have decided to first plant tree lucerne (aka tagasaste or
Chamaecytisus proliferus var. palmensis). From the same family as gorse and broom, this Canary Islands native will grow up to 2m in its first year.
It is often used as a nursery species – which is what I will do. Pop it in now and let it get on with doing its thing while I take a bit more time mulling over other trees (and slower-growing ones if need be) to plant.
Being a legume, it is a nitrogen fixer, but it also has other endearing attributes. It is a light, airy tree and its pretty white winter flowers are popular with beekeepers in a season when there are few flowers on offer. They give way to seed pods, which produce one of the qualities I like most about it. In the heat, the exploding pods provide a soundtrack to summer, their snap is our version of the cicadas of the north. It’s also considered excellent for firewood. The trees can grow up to a perfect height of 5m, but can get rather scraggly as they age.
Never mind, by then my little selection of natives endemic to this part of Banks Peninsula shall be well on their way to creating the tiniest of bird-food forests.