This is a great time to plant a tree – the earth is still relatively warm and you can probably count on plenty of rainfall to keep the soil moist. But which one to choose? Well how about settling on a tree to suit your favourite season?
It’s not a bad idea when you think about it. Your favourite season is probably when you’re most likely to be spending time in the garden, if you’re a gardener – even if it’s winter. Yes, really – in fact, that’s when most of whatever work gets done in mine happens, and that’s quite deliberate. If it’s warm and dry, I’d rather be relaxing in the garden than working in it. During the colder months, you need to keep moving to keep the chill at bay – so I’m happy to trim, tidy and chop till my fingers are numb as it’s the only way I’ll get any garden time.
So, if you want something to look forward to at a particular time of year, here are some of my favourites for seasonal interest:
Autumn: One of the best for autumn colour is the sweet gum or liquidambar, and although it tends to prefer acidic or neutral soil, the cultivar ‘Worplesdon’ is a good one for colouring up well in more alkaline conditions.
Winter: It’s hard to beat the Himalayan birch, Betula utilis ‘Jacquemontii’, with white bark that gleams in the low winter light – some gardeners even wash the trunk down yearly to keep it glowing. Often planted in groups of single-stemmed plants, it also makes a great focal point when planted as a single multi-stemmed specimen.
Spring: In spring it’s probably blossom you’re after, and flowering cherries are high on many a wish-list, with good reason. Prunus ‘Tai-haku’, also known as the great white cherry, is hard to beat.
Summer: It has to be silver birch, our native Betula pendula – mind you, I love this tree all year round. While many deciduous trees cast a lot of shade in summer though, the silver birch has a light, airy canopy that won’t create as much darkness underneath as many others – and it’s always as pretty as a picture.
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