It's not a garden without trees!

It's not a garden without trees!

But what if the garden is just a few hundred square metres? That's not actually a problem since trees also come in smaller sizes, in which case they do not require the annual, expert pruning of their larger-growing cousins. The high-stemmed fruit trees much neglected in recent decades as well as many of the ornamental trees are suitable as small-growing trees.

High-stemmed fruits trees can now be found in many tree nurseries again, however some patience is required after planting because they are not usually large specimens. I particularly recommend apple species, although cherries are just as well suited. If the climatic conditions are right, apricot, walnut and even mulberry can be planted.

The range of ornamental trees is vast, and extends from native species to exotics. Here are a few attractive examples: the golden rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) bears fluffy yellow flower heads that are followed by eye-catching, lantern-shaped fruits. The foxglove tree (Paulownia tomentosa) is fast growing, with lush blue flower heads that bloom before the large leaves appear and seed pods that are also pretty to look at.

The Catalpa bigonioides has similar foliage, and is also called the "Indian bean tree" in some places because of its long, thin seed pods. Another exotic specimen is the common hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), although it has unobtrusive flowers and small, pea-shaped berries. The Russian olive (Eleagnus angustifolia) stands out thanks to its fine but dense, silvery foliage. The sea buckthorn (Hippophae) is similar in appearance, but is more a shrub than a tree and bears abundant orange fruits that make a tasty juice (attention: always plant male and female specimens, otherwise you won't get any fruit!).

In spring, the flowers of the golden rain (Laburnum anagyroides) are breathtakingly beautiful (caution: the seeds are poisonous!). Interesting large shrubs that can also be grown as small trees include the Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas), a member of the dogwood family, or the elder (Sambucus nigra). The fruits of both have many uses, as do the flowers of the elder.

A relative of our Cornelian cherry is the Japanese dogwood (Cornus kousa), notable for its long-lasting white "flowers" (bracts), however this grows relatively slowly. There are countless types and varieties in the maple (Acer sp.) genus with different foliage shapes and colours, e.g. depending on the variety, the foliage of the fast-growing box elder (Acer negundo) can also be "speckled". We can't forget the silver birch (Betula pendula); it's a wonderful tree that makes few demands and is relatively small growing. The same goes for the mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia). The advantage of the ornamental trees is that you can also buy them as larger specimens, although you will pay handsomely in that case.

The choice of location within the garden requires careful consideration: where should the shadow fall, where do you want your points of interest, what is your relationship with your neighbours like, etc. I wrote an article here around a year ago on how trees offer much better shade quality than an awning, for example. Here is the link to that article: https://www.viking-garden.com/shade-in-the-garden.aspx

Prof. Karl E. Schönthaler
VIKING garden expert

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