The Perfect Tree by Cheryl Cummins MSGD
As autumn progresses the trees which have softened the hills around us all summer with their shapely green mounds are now differentiating themselves one from another by the changing colours of their leaves.
There are the oranges and reds of the wild cherries and elders in the hedgerows, the butter yellow of hazels and ash, the deep bottle green of hollies and the brilliant gold of beech. From providing a gentle green summer background, for the next few weeks the trees are beginning to stand out and dominate the landscape.
In the countryside around us we appreciate their beauty and know their worth as timber, their ability to stabilise the soil and hold water and of course their usefulness to wildlife but when it comes to the trees in our own gardens we don’t always hold them in such high esteem. Too often we think of our neighbours’ trees only in terms of how much shade they cast or the view they obscure and worry about their roots blocking our drains, issues which have come about through an initial desire for privacy or screening, usually by something very fast growing which almost inevitably also means ultimately very big.
It would be wonderful if we all had gardens on a scale to take majestic oaks, beech and beautiful willows but we don’t and as garden space allotted to new build homes shrinks to ever smaller proportions we mustn’t just abandon planting them altogether but make our choices more thoughtfully from a range of smaller trees that won’t outgrow their welcome.
Acer palmatum cultivars, better known as Japanese maples are small but spectacular, easily accommodated in any garden, even in containers, the only place they really don’t like to be is where it’s windy.
Cornus mas also has lovely autumn colour, it’s very shapely and has the bonus of bright yellow early spring flowers. Magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’ is very pretty in flower too and the furry silver buds along bare branches shine in the low winter sun.
For evergreen structure in a well drained garden Cupressus sempervirens ‘Stricta’ hardly takes up any space widthways but is tall and imposing all year round. I like it planted in groups where it reminds me of Tuscany, but if you’d rather have something typically British and brilliant for bees then apple trees are hard to beat, grown on root stocks in a choice of sizes, with beautiful blossom, brilliant autumn colour and the freshest flavoured fruit you’ll ever taste. Perfect!