Archive | Shrubs and Trees

Tips on the selection and growing trees shrubs and hedges

Tree Books – More than Three Books

2018 has been a remarkable year for tree books and the publishing trade has done a good job listing new and older titles. There is now a forest of books to acquire and collect and I hope they have been printed on paper from sustainable sources.

Book Cover

A ubiquitous book that has been a star seller on the shelves this year. The bright cover and eclectic mix of poems has hopefully started many saplings on a journey with trees.
Book CoverA compendium of National Trust History & Heritage. We can take pride in our tree history.

Book CoverFascinating facts that are hard to comprehend until you study what is going on with trees in groups. A clever update of another edition, a sort of sucker from the parent tree.

Book CoverWe are not alone in venerating trees and if you want an excuse to travel the world then this book will provide some inspiration. Continue Reading →

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Where to See Trees

Trees can be individually inspiring but when trees are gathered or clumped together they can range from the majestic to the commercially relevant.  Over centuries trees have provided the largest social impacts from shelter, sustenance and products from timber.  Through changing seasons the aesthetic benefits of the wide variety of trees also give a significant amount of personal pleasure.

Despite problems of disease in some species and Sheffield council contracting to chop down trees close to highways, trees are  ubiquitously visible throughout the UK.

 Tree Zones and Areas Where You See Trees

  1. Woods in all shapes and sizes
  2. Forest – now applied to conifers but historically area where forest laws applied
  3. Copse – broad leaved woodland
  4. Spinney
  5. Stand
  6. Park  – traditionally containing more widely spread trees
  7. Arboretum
  8. Clough or Ghyll
  9. Gill or Dingle – wooded valley
  10. Ancient Woodland
  11. Carr – usually alder & willow on wetland
  12. Chase or firth – a hunting area
  13. Enclosure – once land held in common
  14. Glade
  15. Plantation
  16. Hanger   -wood on a  steep slope or bank
  17. Ride
  18. Shaw-  small wood
  19. Spring  – coppiced woodland
  20. Wildwood- original forest from the last ice age
  21. Landscapes
  22. Orchard
  23. Woodlot
  24. Jungle
  25. Thicket
  26. Memorials –  graveyards crematoria  and special areas
  27. Swamp
  28. Grove
  29. Nurseries and specialist tree vendors
  30. Woodland Trust
  31. National Trust Properties
  32. Botanic gardens
  33. Wild in nature

If you wish to take issue with my selection or know where I have ignored a favourite ‘tree zone’ then send us a comment.

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Best British Trees Reviewed


Our series of tree reviews covers exotics and UK trees with a few specials thrown in. Each separate post covers;

  • Latin names and other common names
  • Height, uses and normal distribution. –
  • Type of tree – Evergreen/ Deciduous – dictoyledons, monocotyledon, Conifer etc
  • Description of Leaves, Flowers, Fruit and bark –
  • Family links, varieties and near relatives –

Below are links to a dozen British natives with short descriptions.

English Oak
Top of most lists for great British Trees. Our list of tree reviews is no different, Oak is the tops!

Rowan – Mountain Ash
The trees can be quite singular in appearance when shaped by wind on high moors and mountains.

Beech
From the copper coloured leaf to solid green hedges the Beech deserves a place in most gardens.

Silver Birch
Seem to be growing everywhere you look with some very distinctive varieties like Jacquemontii.

Horse Chestnut
Brought to England by William the Conqueror (no not really the conkers were there first).

Norway Spruce
Despite containing a foreign country name this Spruce grows freely on Forestry Commission land in the UK.

Hawthorn
Ideal for hedgerows and feeding birds. May blossom in May maybe.

Lime or Linden
a useful ornamental for parks and large gardens.

Hornbeam
Grows well in my garden and trains easily into a shapely tree.

Sycamore
Related to the other Acers but I would let someone else grow Sycamore on their land. (not my favourite)

Larch
A fast growing deciduous conifer good in forests.

Yew
Longest lived and slowest growing British tree synonymous with church yards and pagan worship.

Ash
Along with the Oak and the bonny Rowan tree the Ash is justly popular.

Notes

  • This completes our bakers dozen of British trees. If you want to learn more click on each link.
  • If you want to look for a different tree, type in the common or Latin name in our Google search box.
  • Please feel free to leave a comment or make a request on tree or garden related matters.
  • For more information of tree leaf shape design and function read this section.

Tree Organisations and Links
Woodland Trust

The Arboricultural Association
International Society of Arboriculture UK

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Best Trees for Small Gardens UK

A common site in many town gardens are trees that have outgrown their space. Large native trees like Oaks, Copper Beach, Planes, Weeping Willow and horse chestnuts are wonderful, but to be really enjoyed they need suitable space, like in a park. If they are planted in the garden they will

  • Create too much shade
  • Create too much ‘water shade’ – their canopy can make a garden quite dry.
  • Planted too near the house, they can also undermine the foundations of a house as their roots spread deeply into the structure.

To remove these trees is a big job. But, it’s better to do now, rather than leaving until it is even higher. (Though you may have to be careful and check planning regulations before cutting old trees down – some may be protected)

However, though some trees are too big to enjoy, there are many excellent varieties which will be good for the small garden.

Best Trees For Small Gardens

Acers – There are a huge varieties of acers. They can be very attractive in the small garden. They are also ideally suited for the small garden.

acer

Acer Palmatum – a great tree for small gardens. They are very slow growing so stay nice and small. I’ve found they can be a bit tender in a cold windy winter. More on Acers

Birch – Betula Pendula

birch

Birches make excellent garden trees, there canopy is not too dense, providing a lovely dappled shade. There small delicate leaves and bark can also be quite attractive, especially the white barked silver birch.

Hawthorn Tree. Can be used in hedges or used as a specimen tree. Will not grow too tall and provides good blooms in May or June.

Laburnum


Laburnum

The Laburnum provides a wonderful display of yellow flowers in May / June. It shouldn’t grow too tall (though this tree from Italy has grown as tall as house. One important point is that its leaves and flowers and bark are all poisonous. If you have young children, it may not be suitable unless closely supervised.

The best variety is Laburnum wateri vossii’ which produces long blooms of flowers.

Continue Reading →

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Crab Apple Trees for Fruit & Ornament

Malus Red Sentinel

The flowering crab apples, Malus Rosaceae, are excellent floral trees with the added bonus of small usually edible fruit. The Malus Red Sentinel above has a profusion of small hard red autumn fruit that can be admired in the garden, left to feed birds, converted into a jelly or added to other food dishes. Crab apples generally contain a deal of pectin and are seldom eaten uncooked.

Favourite Crab Apple Varieties

  1. Golden Hornet is a small tree with white flowers producing a large crop of small yellow fruit.
  2. John Downie perhaps the best fruiting large conical crab apples of bright orange to red.
  3. Jay Darling is ornamental with large, deep red flowers and crimson tinted foliage.
  4. Eleyi has purpleish shoots and very decorative purpleish fruit in Autumn. Slightly later flowering and a good pollinator.
  5. Profusion is a fragrant hybrid with large wine red clustered flowers. Ox-blood red fruit make this one of the best Crab Apples.

Continue Reading →

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Grow Flowering Cherry Trees

upright-spreading

Flowering Cherry trees contribute most to the floral pageantry of spring blossom and they are easy to grow. Cherries are graceful and well shaped trees and many varieties have excellent Autumn colour. (Scarlet leaves of Prunus sargentii and pubesens, yellow of hybrids Pandora or Tai-Haku or coppery Ukon.)

Historically most varieties originate from China and Japan including the doubles called Yae zakura. Special parties and holiday trips are arranged to visit flowering cherries in Japan where they are revered as inspiration for artists and warriors as a symbol of purity.

Designing with Cherries

  • Double flowered varieties give the best effect when planted as solitary specimens or groups of 3 of the same variety.
  • Do not mix varieties that flower at the same time as they detract from one another. Continue Reading →
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Five Trees & Shrubs for Chalk Soil

The best trees for chalk soil conditions tend to be locally grown and not be Dutch imports. In fact they resemble shrubs more than trees but there are the odd exception that are tree like.

Syringia
Lilac

Lilac trees will tolerate limey chalk or clay soils. They are grown for the wonderful scent of the lilac blossom in spring and other than that they are not much of a feature. Syringia vulgaris Primrose is a white flowered variety and Syringia vulgaris Sensation has purple flowers with white edges. The flowers of the lilac make conical panticles which are useful in large flower arrangements.

Crataegus
Großkelchiger Weißdorn (Crataegus rhipidophylla)
Generically called the thorn these small trees have a variety of flowers and berries depending on the species including the Hawthorn. All species seem to do well in chalk soil. Crataegus laevigata Crimson Cloud has bright red flowers whilst Pauls Scarlet is a round-headed tree with red haws in autumn.
They are hardy and will tolerate pollution and some shade but perform best in full sun.

Aesculus
Conker
Horse Chestnuts produce conkers not edible chestnuts. They are stately trees needing room to grow to over 16 feet.
Aesculus parviflora is one of the smaller growing varieties that will suit a garden with chalk soil.

Carpinus betulus
Hornbeam
Hornbeams are a small genus of medium sized trees for chalk soil. Carpinus betulus Frans Fontaine is a slender fastigate form retaining its narrow habit with age. Carpinus japonica has many catkins, corrugated leaves and grows in a wide spread suitable for garden use.

Sambucus
Schwarzer Holunder (Sambucus nigra)

Sambucus is a hardy shrub or small ornamental tree for chalk soil or many other conditions. Sambucus nigra has black leaves and light pink to white flower bracts.

Cotoneaster
cotoneaster berries

Cotoneasters will grow in most soil conditions. They are invaluable for attracting hoverflies to the white flowers, birds to the red berries and gardeners to the shape and form of a good all-rounder.
Cotoneaster hybrid pendulus can be grown as a small weeping tree with arching branches. Cotoneaster horizontalis is commonly referred to as the Fish Bone cotoneaster

Read about our review of British trees with a bakers dozen links to our favourites.

Credits
Großkelchiger Weißdorn (Crataegus rhipidophylla) by blumenbiene CC BY 2.0
Schwarzer Holunder (Sambucus nigra) by blumenbiene CC BY 2.0

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Allotments Replaced by Trees

 

allotments

We used to have allotments in our village until the blight. That was not a gardening blight or a problem growing anything but a planners and local politicians blight.

A large green open space surrounding an old hospital ‘High Royds’ was too good an opportunity for power broking and developers profits so the old hospital and the village allotments all had to go. I blame ‘careless of the community’.

Now the ‘new’ village is built and called Chevin Park (not High Royds because the hospital was a former lunatic asylum. Other name changes such as Windscale to Sellafield also springs to mind.)    Many properties are empty partly due to the property recession but also due to the paltry size of the gardens and lack of allotments that could so easily have been restored.

What has replaced our allotments? As you can see a veritable forest of plastic tubes protecting newly planted trees and the flimsiest stakes you could imagine after 3 foot canes. As I said earlier this week this is an updated post for National Tree Week 2018. The plastic tubes are now litter around some decent young trees.

Tips for Planting Trees

  • Dig a good sized hole and incorporate some slow release fertilizer like bone meal. The tree should be there for a long time.
  • Spread the roots of a bare rooted tree or tweak the edges of a container grown tree to give roots the encouragement to spread. Trim off any broken roots.
  • Plant at the same depth to which the tree has been grown.  There is usually a soil mark on bare trees to help. Do not bury any graft.
  • Drive the stake into the bottom of the planting hole before planting the tree and try to ensure that 2/3rds of the stake is underground when the soil is returned to the hole. Continue Reading →
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Roots Root For National Tree Week

Lets get to the root of the problem, we seldom get to see roots in action but they are crucial to most plants and trees.

When it comes to trees their roots have two critical functions. Firstly they take up water and minerals. Secondly they help to anchor the tree often utilising a longer tap root. The solid root plate near the trunk normally extends as far as the leaf canopy. Thinner finer lateral roots can extend twice as far in search of water and nutrients. Other root functions for some species include storage of food or nutrients and  as part of a reproduction or regeneration system.

Book Cover

Even today, few places can rival an English oak wood in early summer for peace and beauty with its carpet of primroses and bluebells. Or the cathedral-like majesty of the autumn beech wood with the sun’s light filtering through the leaves. Or the brooding quiet of the ancient holly wood. Perhaps it is not surprising that our remote ancestors performed their acts of worship in forest clearings and woodland glades, for this is where they came face to face with ‘Nature’ – however they close to see it.

Myths About Tree Roots

  • Trees have long been held as part of the superstitions about witches
  • Roots do not penetrate solid objects like wall of drainage pipes that are in good condition.
  • Roots wont affect foundations except on clay soil where they help take away moisture and cause shrinkage.
  • After planting roots are not always keen to extend into surrounding soil unless it is broken up and loosened before hand.
  • Trees need watering even after the first year. Roots take time to establish and be able to supply the needs of of a growing tree. Make sure it is watered for the first 3 years and seldom allowed to dry out completely.
  • Not surprisingly roots will take the easy route if they find cracks in pavements or leaking drains.

Book Cover‘Throughout our long history, forests have been places of shelter, providing food for man and fodder for the animals; the wood for fuel (i.e. warmth and cooking) and for making weapons and other utensils. At the same time they have also been places of fear, where the temperamental Faere Folk, wood sprites and elementals lurked in the dappled shadows.’

Roots Near Buildings further reading

Roots in Pots

  • Pot bound’ is the phrase used when a containerised plant has roots that fill or over fill the pot and satrt going round and round in search of new soil. The pot below has not quite reached a critical stage as the rooot ball can be teased out.
  • If roots are left in a tight circle that is how they will stay and the plant will not thrive. I have occasionally dug out a poor plant to find the original compost is all that is feeding the plant and it is often bone dry. It is hard to rewet plants grown in peat coir and other similar substances.

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Best Trees for Toughness

Avoiding early onset of death caused by disease or climate change will affect the trees we plant in the future. Gardeners must consider tree selection carefully bearing in mind more than aesthetics and utility. Economics of forestry have increased there relevance to Britain as (the dreaded by some) Brexit nears. We import and export more wood than in previous years but with those extra tree miles comes risks. Toxins pests and disease are to readily spread from one country to another. CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is designed to protect over-exploitation and endangerment  through international trade.

Some of the most reliable trees to plant with a view to them reaching maturity even if not in my life time include:

Tulip Tree Liriodendron tulipifera

American Sweetgum Liquidambar stryraciflua

Evergreen Oak Quercus ilex also Pin Oak and Chestnut leaved oak

Silver Lime Tilia tomentosa

Sweet Chestnut Castaneasativa

Hornbeam Carpinus

Dawb Redwood Metasequoia

Wedding cake tree Cornus controversa

Book Cover

Trees That Produce Hard Tough Wood

  • Janka is the basic measure of hardness for a sample of wood. The toughest tree is  an ironwood tree which is native to Australia.
  • Lignum vitae is so hard it was used to make policemen’s truncheons
  • Ebony and Brazilian Olivewood have tightly packed grain making up the hardness.
  • Snakewood is an exotic hardwood which is particularly prized for it’s decorative grain
  • Other hard woods common in Britain include mahogany, maple, oak, and teak.
  • Tropical pear, cashew and walnut are hard hardwoods.
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