November 25th marks the start of National Tree Week, which in turn marks the start of the tree-planting season.
Considering that most of us in the UK have fairly small plots we do love our trees. The trouble is we’re not always terribly good at choosing them. How many times have you driven through a housing estate and observed an enormous weeping willow or an enormous pine tree completely obscuring a front garden?
It can be tricky deciding what sort of tree to plant on a small, suburban plot but there are plenty of candidates. Generally, trees up to 8-10m are considered suitable.
The best urban trees offer year-round interest.
Varieties of Acer Palmatum (right) are rather lovely. They are elegant trees which have attractive green or purple foliage and colour beautifully in the winter.
For my money, Amalanchier Lamarckii is about as hardworking a tree as you’ll come across. During March and April it produces a frothy show of white flowers, then in June these are replaced by attractive deep purple, and supposedly edible – though I’ve never tried them – fruits. Then, when Autumn arrives the tree pulls out all the stops and bursts into fiery colour. If you only have room for one tree then an Amelanchier won’t let you down.
Sorbus hupehensis var. obtusa
Another hard worker is Sorbus hupehensis var. obtusa. This tree has a pretty shape and is attractive throughout the year. In the late spring, it is covered in white blossom which is followed by masses of dark pink berries. The blue-green leaves turn red in the autumn.
It’s just my opinion of course but without at least one tree, a garden can seem flat and a little dull. Trees provide structure and height but are also a haven for birds and insects, which in turn add colour and life. Why not plant a tree during this week. Our guide has some helpful tips.
Oaks produce more than 2,000 acorns every year, but only one in 10,000 acorns will manage to develop into an oak tree.
How to plant a tree
1 Dig a hole at least twice the size of the root ball.
2 Make up a mixture of half compost and half soil from the hole. Put a few inches of this mix at the bottom of the hole.
3 Trees need support so drive a support stake into the hole at one edge. This needs to be done before the tree is planted or you risk damaging the roots.
4 Tip the tree from its container and loosen the roots a little. Place it into the hole and fill in with the soil and compost mixture. Firm it down with your heel.
5 Use proper straps to secure the tree to the post and water well.