Tony Dick­er­son an­swers your ques­tions

Garden News (UK) - - Contents - TONY DICK­ER­SON

QCan you sug­gest some small trees to 8m (26ft) with at­trac­tive bark? Sue Hol­man, by email

AIf you’re look­ing for an ev­er­green, then choice is very lim­ited, un­for­tu­nately. Snow gum ( Eu­ca­lyp­tus

pau­ci­flora niphophila) has peel­ing, cream and sil­very-green bark with sil­very, ev­er­green leaves, pink­ish young shoots and white sum­mer flow­ers (H: 5m (16½ft), S: 3m (10ft) in 20 years.

How­ever, there’s a much wider se­lec­tion of de­cid­u­ous trees with at­trac­tively coloured or tex­tured bark, which of­ten dis­play good au­tumn colour. Acer gri­seum (pa­per­bark maple) has flak­ing, cin­na­mon-brown bark and some Ja­panese maples have at­trac­tive young shoots, such as Acer pal­ma­tum ‘Sango-kaku’, with co­ral-red branches in win­ter. Most Hi­malayan birches are ul­ti­mately too large for smaller gar­dens, but Be­tula utilis jacque­mon­tii ‘Moon­beam’, with peel­ing white bark, is one of the most com­pact. On acid soils, Ste­wartia mala­co­den­dron or S. ovata are a good choice with peel­ing mot­tled bark and creamy white flow­ers, 5-10cm (2-4in) across in mid­sum­mer. Now’s a good time to plant trees, pro­vided the soil isn’t frozen or wa­ter­logged. It’s im­por­tant to pre­pare the ground well by loos­en­ing the soil to a depth equiv­a­lent to the height of the tree’s root­ball and over a wide area to elim­i­nate com­paction and im­prove drainage. On heavy clay or sandy soils, in­cor­po­rate or­ganic mat­ter.

Soak bare-rooted trees for 30 min­utes prior to plant­ing and wa­ter con­tainer­ised plants well be­fore re­mov­ing them from their pots. Tease out the roots and place in a plant­ing hole no deeper than the roots, but three times the di­am­e­ter of the root sys­tem. Po­si­tion the first flare of roots level with the soil sur­face.

Re­fill the plant­ing hole care­fully, plac­ing soil be­tween and around all the roots to elim­i­nate air pock­ets. Firm the soil gen­tly and wa­ter in.

It’s im­por­tant to wa­ter these new plants in dry spells dur­ing the first two years and keep the area weed free.

Eu­ca­lyp­tus pau­ci­flora niphophila is a strik­ing ev­er­green and doesn’t get too large

Acer pal­ma­tum ‘Sango-kaku’ in hot red

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