Choosing trees for a small garden

Every garden needs a tree and there’s a tree for every garden. The tricky bit is if you’ve only got a small patch in which to plant… Rob and Nick, the nursery’s tree men, have put together some useful suggestions for the perfect trees for smaller gardens. They’ve picked out some of their favourite small trees with handy advice as to why you’d do well to choose these for your garden:

Flowers:

Rob: you can’t beat a hawthorn (Crataegus) and Paul’s Scarlet is one of the very best. Covered in double flowers, a striking shade of red, this is one of the best small trees. It grows to between 4-8m but it is very trimmable, if required. You’ll get lots of fruit in the autumn which is very good news for the birds, making it an excellent tree for wildlife. There’ll even be some autumn colour too!

Crataegus Paul’s Scarlet

Nick – Amelanchier Ballerina is my go-to ornamental tree for small gardens. Its flowering time is the spring when it becomes heavy with lovely white blossom, it’s a member of Rosaceae, the rose family. The young leaves have a handsome bronzy-colour to them and you’ll often get good autumn colour at the other end of the year. Like Rob’s hawthorn, Amelanchier is a popular tree with birds, who love the purple fruit. In terms of size, it will grow between 4-8m.

Amelanchier Ballerina

Foliage:

Nick –  the katsura or Cercidiphyllum japonica has not only one of the most beautiful foliage to be found in the garden but the most fragrant. These heart-shaped leaves not only provide a pink colour in the spring but will change to oranges and yellows in the autumn. At this time the leaves will also start to produce a delicious caramel aroma, which can be mouth-watering! It will eventually make a tree over 10m, so medium-sized rather than small but one to find a space for if possible.

Cercidiphyllum japonica

Rob: the weeping silver pear or Pyrus salicifolia Pendula is a terrific foliage tree if you’ve not got a lot of room. The leaves are a splendid silver, narrow like those of a willow and they shimmer in the wind. It has a very attractive weeping habit with fragrant flowers in the spring. Very unfussy about soil or aspect the weeping silver pear is also very tough and can work well in exposed coastal sites. All in all it’s a very good-looking and dependable small tree!

Pyrus salicifolia Pendula

Evergreen:

Rob – the snow gum, otherwise known as Eucalyptus pauciflora var niphophilia has a lovely upright habit and is small for a eucalyptus, growing to between 4-8m. As well as the beautiful and aromatic leaves, the snow gum has lovely bark that peels away from the stem to leave creamy-green patches. Very unfussy about aspect and soil too! Nothing quite like the rustle of eucalyptus leaves in the breeze…

Eucalyptus pauciflora var niphophilia

Nick – one of my favourite evergreen small trees has to be Acacia pravissima. Lovely small, triangular leaves with a weeping habit. It grows to about 3-4m high and is covered in brilliant yellow mimosa flowers in the early spring. Best in a sheltered sunny spot. It prefers well-drained soils and will cope well with a dry position. A fantastic little tree!

Acacia pravissima

Fruit:

Nick: Sorbus Autumn Spire is an all-rounder to be honest, with lovely spring flowers and cracking autumn colour but it has wonderful yellow berries in the autumn. This fruit can be made into rowan jelly or left for the birds who really enjoy them. This tree has quite a narrow habit so useful if you want more of a columnar tree than a spreading one. Ultimately this will grow 5-8m.

Sorbus Autumn Spire

Rob: crab apples are a good bet as a small garden tree and Malus Red Sentinel is one of my favourites. The lovely clusters of small red fruit in the autumn look fantastic and they taste pretty good too when made into crab apple jelly. The leaves colour up nicely too and in the spring the white blossom is long-lasting as well as beautiful. It’s popular with the bees too! A mature tree will be around 4-8m in height.  

Malus Red Sentinel

Duchy of Cornwall Nursery trees:

Our trees usually come in 12 litre pots and are priced at £44.99 but sizes and prices do vary. The best thing is to pop in and see Rob, Nick or any of our knowledgeable staff who will be delighted to show you around and provide any advice that you might require.