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10 trees with great appeal for small to medium gardens

These small trees are blooming marvellous in spring

We all know about March winds and the fact that we still have the occasional frost or even snow at this time of year. But March is a month of variables and it can be warm enough to sit out on a deckchair, should you have such a thing. Most flowering plants in early spring keep low to the ground. They hug the banks and woodland edge, or keep their small heads slightly bowed in order to thrive.  But the show is all set to begin. There are so many plants that are about to burst into glory. The spectacle that generally launches everyone's hearts and hopes is the blossom that adorns bare dark branches of ornamental trees, propelling the growing season to a pinnacle.  Cherry blossom is the moment when spring really begins!


Beautiful blossom

Blossom is the term awarded to a cluster of flowers that bloom on a plant – and a blossom tree’ is particularly associated with those within the Prunus genus. That's cherries, plums and peaches. But some of the Malus or apple/crab apples also have beautiful blossom. Even hawthorn and blackthorn produces delicate flowers that fall within the blossom description.  Blue skies and blossom, what could be more beautiful?


Ornamental cherries

If you are bowled over by a frilly spectacle, it's the ornamental cherries that provide the greatest spring show. The vast choice makes selecting just one quite a task. It's best to start with the plot you have available and allow that to dictate the size of tree that is appropriate.

White blossom, pink blossom, or white flushed with pink. Whatever your preference, its difficult to ignore this beautiful spectacle. Even those with just a courtyard or even a patio or balcony can still enjoy a tiny tree. Prunus Kojo-no-Mai grows to a diminutive size of just 2m tall and it will still provide you with that glorious spring blossom in shades of white flushed with pink.  Prunus 'Kogo-no-Mai' is a diminutive tiny tree which will be happy in a large pot.

So many different varieties

For a small garden there are varieties such as Prunus Kursar with its neat, rounded shape and intensely pink flowers. It grows to no more than 8 metres and is similar in size to Prunus Okame. This equally gorgeous round-headed tree has rich, bright pink flowers in late March and early April. If you are looking for a slightly more upright, eye-catching spring delight you will be bowled over by the  spectacular Prunus Beni-yutaka with its large, pink double flowers with a darker centre. It could well be the perfect small garden tree as it grows to a demure height and spread of about 8 x 4 metres in 20 years  or so. Prunus Pink Perfection is another great choice with its frilly double flowers and compact size.

Springtime in Japan is nothing less than magical because of the blossom provided by cherry and plum trees. The blossom spectacle commences in February and lasts until early May. when beautiful pink flowers blanket the country in soft, colourful hues. Want something a little less pink? It's hard to beat the Great White Cherry, Prunus Taihaku.  This is a truly splendid tree for a small to medium garden. In fact this tree became extinct in Japan but a single variety was found growing in a Sussex garden and this has allowed the tree to flourish. It displays brilliant white single, large flowers that emerge from pink buds in April and the tree will eventually reach a height and spread of around 8m x 6m.

The great white cherry has a great shape and beautiful white blossom in spring.

Ornamental trees for year-round interest

There are other ornamental trees that do, perhaps, provide a greater year-round attraction. Their blossom might be slightly more subtle, but they could have fruit or bark colour which boosts their popularity. Malus, or the apple family, offers some great choices, particularly the crab apples.  These are very well suited to the modern garden because of their small size and non-invasive root system.

Crab apples

Take Malus x robusta Red Sentinel for example. It has an upright habit and lots of small white spring flowers. They are followed by red cherry-like fruits that last right through the winter until the birds feast upon them when times are hard. Similar in size and stature is Malus x zumi Golden Hornet which has golden-yellow fruits.

Malus x robusta 'Red Sentinel' is a beautiful small tree with interest that spreads across many seasons.

Beautiful bark!

Then there are the ornamental trees that are grown primarily for their bark and stem colour. Prunus serrula, the Tibetan cherry, and its family have the most amazing mahogany coloured bark with distinctive horizontal lighter banding stripes. These are most noticeable in young stems with a diameter of abut 20cm. Looking spectacular against dark backgrounds are the silver birch family, particularly Betula utilis var. jacquemontii including the appropriately named Grayswood Ghost. There are trees with delightfully peeling bark such as Acer griseum, otherwise known as the Chinese paperbark maple, and several snakebark Acers which have white stripes snaking around the stems.  Peeling, colourful tree stems can be just as beautiful as flowers - and the bark lasts all year long!  Interesting stem and bark colour is just as attractive as flowers or fruit. There are many trees that are suitable for small spaces.

Window shopping

There’s so much to consider before selecting a tree! Think about the appearance of the foliage; consider the size, the shape, the flowers, the fruit and other seasonal variables such as autumn colour. Like window shopping, there's great fun to be had in researching your choices. Enjoy the process and you will gain the greatest benefit from your new tree.  A small tree in a garden can make a great statement   Then there are Acers! Watch a video about amazing Acers here:
By Perfect Plants


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