Five of the best trees for gardens large or small

by | Apr 18, 2015 | Featured Slider, Latest, News

Anybody lucky enough to have visited the RHS Chelsea Flower Show will have been drawn to the Hillier Nurseries exhibit of trees and shrubs that dominate the magnificent marquee.

It is like walking through an encyclopaedia of trees suitable for small gardens, and for the last 25 years this stunning exhibit has been created by expert and nurseryman Andrew McIndoe.

“Trees at RHS Chelsea make the Hillier garden exhibit three dimensional. It’s the same effect they have in real gardens,” says McIndoe, who is hoping for a record-breaking 70th consecutive RHS Chelsea Gold this year.

“No garden should be without a tree – even small gardens – because they make the most of the vertical space, and allow plenty of opportunity for underplanting with smaller shrubs, perennials and bulbs.”

Even if you can’t get along to RHS Chelsea this year, which runs from May 19 to 23, you can still benefit from McIndoe’s excellent eye for colour and form.

Here is his list of the five best trees that will work well in a garden big or small:

Betula albosinensis ‘Fascination’

This beautiful small tree of light, compact pyramidal shape has healthy dark green leaves and golden catkins in spring.

The bark is the main feature: peeling and revealing different shades of white, copper and pink, becoming paler with age.

This is a tree for light dappled shade and the best birch for a smaller garden, and will thrive on well-drained acid or alkaline soils.

Height and spread 5m x 2.5m (16ft x 8ft) in 10 years.

Crateagus monogyna

This is a native hawthorn with clusters of white flowers in late spring that are much loved by bees and pollinators. Red fruits, “haws”, follow in autumn and are enjoyed by wild birds.

It is the perfect tree for naturalistic schemes and the wildlife-friendly garden and the gold and orange autumn leaf colour is a bonus most years.

A good choice for small gardens in town or country and in hedgerows, it is wind-resistant and tolerates salt-laden air, growing on any well-drained soil – especially chalk.

Height and spread 5 metres x 3 metres (16ft x 10ft) in 10 years.

Malus ‘Evereste’

This is one of the best crab apples with fragrant apple blossom flowers followed by spectacular orange-red crab apples that persist on the branches long after the leaves have fallen. A good pollinator for fruiting apples.

A compact tree with fresh green foliage that turns to provide some autumn colour.

Its size is easily controlled by pruning making this the perfect choice for a small garden, where it will grows on any well-drained soil and especially good on clay.  Height and spread 5 metres x 4 metres, 16ft x 13ft in 10 years.

Prunus ‘Pandora’

This is a pretty little tree with ascending branches and small, dark green leaves that turn to shades of flame and gold in autumn.

Before the leaves unfurl in spring the branches are crowded with pale pink, single flowers making a spectacular display.

This is a tree for two seasons of colour with a narrow habit, making it ideal for even the smallest garden.

It prefers an open, sunny position but tolerates some shade from neighbouring buildings and grows on any well-drained, fertile soil.

Height and spread: 5 metres x 2metres (16ft x 6ft) in 10 years.

Pyrus x calleryana ‘Chanticleer’

This compact, conical tree has shining fresh green leaves that last until early winter, turning shades of gold, flame and purple before they fall.

Its white flowers with dark stamens are attractive to bees and pollinators and appear in spring as the fresh green leaves unfurl.

A narrow, compact, habit and leaf cover from early to late in the season make this ideal for a small garden and as a screening tree.

It grows on any well-drained soil and prefers an open sunny position but tolerates some shade.

Height and spread 5 metres x 3 metres (16ft x 10ft) in 10 years.

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