Gar­den­ing: How to choose, plant and care for a tree

To cel­e­brate Na­tional Tree Week, Adri­enne Wild shares her tips on how to choose, plant and care for trees in your gar­den

Woman's Weekly (UK) - - Contents -

You don’t nec­es­sar­ily need a rea­son to plant a tree, but it’s a good way to cel­e­brate a spe­cial oc­ca­sion like the birth of a child, a wed­ding day or the pass­ing of a loved one.

Trees have the po­ten­tial to out­live sev­eral gen­er­a­tions, so it’s im­por­tant to buy wisely and plant with the fu­ture in mind, not just sink it in the ground to give your gar­den in­stant height and a feel­ing of ma­tu­rity.

Plant a tree to­day and you’ll be play­ing an valu­able role in main­tain­ing the well­be­ing of the planet too. These eco-friendly plants are known as ‘lungs of the earth’ and help to fil­ter pol­lu­tion from the air, re­cy­cle water and pre­vent soil ero­sion. In your own gar­den, a tree will pro­vide food and shel­ter for in­sects, birds and an­i­mals, and could even be a source of fruit and nuts.

Chil­dren, es­pe­cially, will find it fun to grow a tree from seed and also en­joy nur­tur­ing a seedling that they’ve col­lected from a walk in the coun­try or even Granny’s gar­den. Not only ed­u­ca­tional, in time, ‘their’ tree could be­come a sym­bol of the changes in their own lives.

Chat with friends and you’ll find that of­ten trees have played a mem­o­rable role in their lives, whether it’s when they made their first den, dare­devil at­tempts at climb­ing, pre­car­i­ously swing­ing from a rope fixed on to branches or when a tree be­came a shady re­treat to rest and re­flect, or a hide­away for ro­man­tic li­aisons.

Ap­ple trees, in par­tic­u­lar, ap­pear to pro­vide some of the best-loved mem­o­ries, even more so when the fruit was made into un­for­get­table pies and the prun­ings be­came fra­grant fire­wood.

If you’re in­spired to plant a tree, it’s es­sen­tial that you buy the right one for your plot. Be­fore splash­ing the cash, you need to know your soil type as some, such as Ja­panese maples, pre­fer slightly acid soil, while flow­er­ing cher­ries do bet­ter on chalky and al­ka­line soils. Look at how much space you have and re­search the tree’s ma­ture height and spread, as well as the speed at which it grows, as it can be very costly to cut down large spec­i­mens.

Where space is limited, there are slim-fit trees with a fasti­giated (sin­gle col­umn) habit that can be squeezed into

Acer gri­seum is of­ten voted as the num­ber-one tree for a small gar­den

a cor­ner of the gar­den. One of the best for a small gar­den is the maid­en­hair tree or gingko biloba. This an­cient tree is the old­est de­cid­u­ous conifer on the planet and was around when the di­nosaurs roamed – a talk­ing point when friends come over for a bar­be­cue.

The Ja­panese cherry, Prunus ‘Amanogawa’, won’t take up much room ei­ther and will thrive even in nar­row bor­ders next to a build­ing. It pro­duces pale pink clouds of al­mond­s­cented, pom­pom flow­ers in April, fol­lowed by a spec­tac­u­lar fiery show of yel­low, orange and red fo­liage in au­tumn.

Acer gri­seum is of­ten voted by gar­den­ers as the num­ber one tree for a small gar­den. It’s also known as the pa­per­bark maple be­cause its cin­na­mon­coloured bark nat­u­rally peels away in thin lay­ers. In au­tumn, the leaves turn vi­brant shades of deep crim­son be­fore fall­ing off to re­veal the bark, one of the high­lights of a win­ter gar­den.

If you’re look­ing for a small spec­i­men tree for a man­i­cured lawn, wood­land set­ting or wild gar­den, you’ll no doubt find a rowan, or moun­tain ash, ap­peal­ing as it’s a bea­con for wildlife. Bees adore the scented, creamy-white flow­ers of early sum­mer, and birds love to gorge on the orange or red berries in au­tumn. It’s a perfect plant for prob­lem soil too, and Sor­bus au­cu­paria ‘As­pleni­fo­lia’, which has a nar­row pyra­mid­out­line, is ideal for a gloomy small gar­den, with dra­matic au­tumn fo­liage colours too.

For some­thing more ex­otic, there’s the easy-go­ing honey lo­cust tree, Gled­it­sia tri­a­can­thos. The va­ri­ety ‘Sun­burst’ makes an im­pres­sive mop-headed tree, clothed with weep­ing fo­liage that’s ini­tially yel­low, then light green.

Acer gri­seum Ja­panese maple

Prunus ‘Amanogawa’

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