Smaller ornamental trees

Article originally published by: Kiwi Gardener

Many types of trees, when well looked after, will live for many years, and are a lifetime investment. How well your tree, and investment, grows depends on the type of tree choosen, where you plant it and the care you are prepared to provide once it’s planted.

This mighty small tree, Magnolia ‘Genie’ flowers twice a year and is perfect for home garden or courtyard. Small gardens. Plant in sun or semi shade.

Good things do come in small packages, and when it comes to ornamental trees for the home garden, big isn’t always better. Choose carefully when planting and purchasing trees, and ensure you select the right tree for the job. If you require shade, choose a tree that provides a canopy, or if you wish to have autumnal tones pick something that changes its foliage colour as the seasons cool. And remember if you don’t know a lot about trees when you arrive in store, the staff at Mitre 10 do, and they love to share their knowledge, so let them do the hard yards for you in selecting the right tree for the job. If water and soil are the lifeline of the garden, then trees certainly must be the skeleton. They provide the framework which forms the structure and features of the garden. Trees are classified by having one (or maybe a few) main trunk which supports the entire plant, branches, side shoots and laterals – which all appear from the main trunk(s). Generally trees are more substantial than shrubs. Trees do comes in all shapes and sizes, in this issue we look at how and where to use smaller ornamental trees ideal for the home and garden.

Lollipop trees

Kids love lollipops, and so does the garden. Mop tops, which are sometimes called the lollipop trees, are brilliant for the smaller garden. Trim them back hard every winter and next spring as the lush foliage appears they will command centre stage in the garden.

For something perfumed and evergreen, try Michelia Doltsopa, it needs protection from harsh frosts when young, but is worth the effort.

Ideas of places to use small ornamental trees

  • Small courtyard garden. Upright tall, thin plants such as Thuja smargd, maples, dwarf apple trees, pleached or espaliered trees. Wall plaques, tall narrow containers and upright slim line water features are effective. The key here is not to choose something that is too big and wide which will make the area feel smaller.
  • For dark, shady corners plant Cornus ‘Eddies White Wonder’, Japanese maples or Michelia sp. Garden lighting will enhance the garden at night complement with pale coloured shrubs to lighten the area such as hostas or astelias for all day interest. Pale coloured pots or limestone statues and mirrors will add appeal and a sense of interest to these areas.
  • Entrance ways: try a pair of large planters, with a plant that has strong form and clean lines. Portuguese laurels, standard bay trees under planted with black mondo grass look fabulous and are easy care. Lime washed pots and planters will enhance beds the outdoor areas. Lime trees can be pleached or espaliered too, and look remarkable all year round with their gold bark in winter and lime green foliage the rest of the year.
Japanese maples are the quintessential option for smaller gardens. Be aware though that their foliage will not cope with strong winds or coastal salty sea breezes. Ideal for planting against walls and fences, they are just magical.
Dog woods (Cornus sp.) are wonderful small trees and larger shrubs. ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ covers its graceful branches in white cup-like flowers for months in spring.