New Season Ornamental Trees
By Lorraine Spooner
This week, I am featuring a selection of my favourite ornamental trees currently growing on our Nursery beds, which will be available for you to reserve, in advance of their availability for purchase from September.
With so many features extending interest through the seasons, your preference could be unusual peeling bark, a cascade of spring blossom, fiery autumn foliage colour or a silhouette of branches set against the winter setting sun.
If you find it impossible to choose, come into the Plant Centre to discuss your requirements and I can then make recommendations to you to bring your garden to life.
Acer davidii ‘Viper’
A Snake Bark Maple with year-round interest – distinctive green and silvery white striated bark and fresh green foliage, which later provides autumn tints of orange and yellow. Eventually growing to an approximate height of 7 metres with a canopy spread of 3, this makes a superb specimen tree for the smaller garden, but site it where you can fully appreciate the amazing colour of its bark.
Alnus incana ‘Aurea’
The Golden Alder. Another superb tree with many seasonal attributes, the bark and branches have an orange glow against which the pink catkins, which begin to develop from August, provide a striking contrast; bright golden-green foliage and small cone like fruits add to its charms. Slower growing than the grey alder and smaller in stature, it will light up a shady corner if given moist conditions and will also tolerate poor soils.
The Strawberry Tree. A deservedly popular evergreen tree, also available in multi stemmed shrub form. Beautiful bell-shaped pendulous clusters of creamy white flowers and red strawberry fruits appear simultaneously in autumn, as the previous year’s flowers ripen. With glossy dark green foliage set against red petioles, peeling mahogany bark revealing coppery tones beneath, this versatile tree is an excellent evergreen choice for screening as it will eventually reach 10 metres.
Betula albosinensis ‘Fascination’
The Chinese Red Birch. I have featured this tree as an alternative to the ever popular Betula utilis var. ‘Jacquemontii’ as it deserves to be more widely appreciated. A medium sized birch of pyramidal form, the deep orange bark peels to reveal a myriad shades from pale pink to white. The yellow-brown catkins appear in spring when the dark green foliage unfurls; the leaves are larger than found on other Betula forms, but turn the typical buttery yellow in autumn. A useful specimen for planting against a darker backdrop where its features can be best admired.
Calycanthus ‘Aphrodite’ – Sweetshrub
This multi stemmed shrub produces the most stunning, cerise coloured blooms with a spicy fragrance from spring into summer. Glossy oval green leaves turn yellow in autumn. Looking more like it should be at home in the glasshouse, Calycanthus are hardy down to -15c. I have featured this plant so that you can hold this image in your mind of the explosion of colour you can expect in your garden next spring.
Crataegus prunifolia ‘Splendens’
Broad Leaved Cockspur Thorn. An attractive small tree living up to its ‘radiant’ name with a rounded neat canopy of glossy dark green leaves, creamy white flower clusters in May and a stunning display of shiny red berries, loved by wildlife, which are offset by the fiery autumn colour. A good choice for an exposed site and a wide range of soil conditions. However, beware of the thorns!
Hoheria sexstylosa ‘Snow White’
The Lacebark hails from New Zealand and is a beautiful small evergreen tree of upright form with glossy green, serrated ovate foliage, which can be of variable shape through maturity. The star-shaped, fragrant white flowers are produced from mid to late summer in dense clusters. A superb ornamental for the centre of a border or utilise the evergreen attributes for year-round screening of an eyesore, such as a telegraph pole or neighbouring window.
Malus x purpurea ‘Neville Copeman’
This variety of crab apple has a spreading canopy of purple young foliage, later flushed with green and a profusion of deep pinkish purple flowers in spring. The small orange red fruits in autumn persist long after the tree has shed its foliage and become a welcome source of nourishment for the birds in the depths of winter. Crab apples are an excellent choice for the smaller garden and can be a useful pollinator of apple trees where space is limited.
Pyrus eleagnifolia ‘Silver Sails’
A delightful small ornamental pear tree whose name derives from the boat sail shape of its silvery green foliage which is covered in silky hairs, adding texture and luminosity. The pure white flowers with red anthers are produced in clusters in March and mature to small yellow-green fruit (inedible). This is a good alternative to Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’ where a more upright form is desired.
Sorbus vilmorinii – Vilmorin’s Rowan
This graceful small tree should have a home in every garden. Attaining no more than 4-6 metres with a typical rowan vase-like upright shape, the flat heads of creamy white flowers in late spring are followed by reddish pink fruit which mature to white over time; the feathery fern like foliage turns red and purple in autumn. Sorbus hupehensis ‘Pink Pagoda’ and Sorbus ‘Cashmiriana’ rolled into one!