Planting Trees for Our Future

By Lorraine Spooner


“He who plants a tree, plants a hope”

Throughout history, trees have filled us with wonder and sparked our imaginations. Writers, philosophers and artists have found inspiration in the branches and leaves of trees all around them.

Trees are good for the soul, they provide a majestic example of strength and perseverance in the face of adversity, representing age, beauty and the miracles of life and growth.

Planting Trees for Our Future

Every tree planted in our gardens and the wider landscape can make a contribution to the ‘Glasgow Climate Pact’ agreement resulting from the recent Conference of the Parties (COP26) to accelerate action on climate change this decade.

So let us continue to celebrate National Tree Week by planting a tree, and, as everybody needs a friend, plant another to keep it company.

The many benefits of trees cannot be underestimated, they

  • absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, reducing the greenhouse effect
  • trap dust, pollen and other pollutants, improving air quality
  • offset harmful by-products of fossil-fuel burning by storing carbon
  • reduce the amount of rainwater run-off, which in turn diminishes the incidence of flooding
  • reduce erosion and pollution in our waterways
  • reduce wind speeds and cool the air, as they lose moisture and reflect heat upwards from their leaves
  • provide food, protection and homes for birds and mammals, upon which many species depend
  • provide shade and regulate extremes of temperature
  • reduce stress and improve our health and wellbeing
  • provide places of spiritual, cultural and recreational importance
  • provide firewood for cooking and heat, and materials for building
  • can increase property value whilst bringing joy to our gardens
  • foster vibrant eco-systems and, importantly,
  • they play an indispensable role in creating a better outlook for our planet.

We, at Nicholsons, will continue to contribute to the Government’s tree planting target through our Forest Canopy Foundation project, details of which you can read about here

Planting Trees for Our Future

We have also made our own personal pledge to plant one million trees in the next 10 years, at one of our ‘Community Action’ projects in Africa, where we will be helping local people become more self-sufficient on the land, less reliant on essential travel to feed their families, and raising awareness of the wider world around them.

Read all about our overseas community projects where we are making a difference to the lives of others

My tree recommendations of our current stock of larger specimen trees, for this week follow; please contact the Plant Sales Office on 01869 340342 (Option 1) for more information on sizes available, or even better, arrange a visit with one of our experts by emailing If you missed Part 1 of this article, published last week, you can read it here.

My tree choices for this week are:

Planting Trees for Our Future

Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’

The Callery pear is worthy of being a feature tree, but it is perfect for providing screening in urban gardens due to its slender, vase shaped form and tolerance of pollution.  Producing stunning white blossom in spring, followed by small pear-like fruit (inedible) and spectacular autumn colour, it offers multi seasonal interest.  These trees are planted in perfect symmetry outside our Landscape Offices, so be sure to admire them on your next visit to Nicholsons to imagine how they might look in your own garden or landscape.

Planting in multiples of the same species along a boundary line or roadside will bring a sense of cohesion to the garden; the maturing canopies can be allowed to grow together, and a regular pruning regime could influence and accelerate this growth.  This would give a similar effect to pleached screens but with a more naturalistic appearance.

Planting Trees for Our Future

Quercus x bimondorum ‘Crimson Spire’

If you would love to plant an oak tree for future generations to enjoy, but don’t have space for our mighty native Oak, then this American hybrid of Quercus robur and Quercus alba, could be a contender. A fast-growing tree of initially upright form, it broadens at the canopy base becoming pyramidal in maturity; the dark green, mildew resistant foliage turns dazzling shades of russet red in autumn before falling. Often referred to as the ‘Two Worlds Tree’, due to its parentage, it still requires a large open space to reach its full potential, such as the centre of a large lawn or parkland, to act as a counterpoint to all the shades of green.

Planting Trees for Our Future

Betula pendula

The ‘Lady of the Woods’ is our native silver Birch, with graceful, weeping branches and bright green, diamond-shaped leaves which turn buttery yellow in autumn. The male and female catkins appear from April to May hanging at the tips of shoots like lamb tails, the seeds of which are loved by the finch family. With its neat, conical shape maturing to 7 metres, this is a popular choice for both gardens and as a windbreak in the wider landscape, where the dappled shade provided by its’ canopy, allows for both underplanting and respite for grazing animals. We recommend planting in groups of five or seven, where creative formations can make a real impact.

Planting Trees for Our Future

Alnus glutinosa

The common alder is a native deciduous, medium sized tree that thrives in moist soils, where its wood becomes harder and stronger in these conditions.  A line of these trees in the landscape will indicate that rivers, ponds or marshland are nearby and it can therefore be a good indicator of damp or waterlogged soil.  The young buds and twigs are sticky with resin, hence the species name glutinosa and the mature fissured bark is often covered in silvery lichen.  As with some other trees thriving in water, the alder retains its leaves longer than those growing in drier conditions, extending the season along with the male and female catkins, which can persist through winter before their seeds disperse on the wind, floating in water for up to a month, in search of another riverbank in which to germinate.

Planting Trees for Our Future

Prunus padus

A very attractive and unique native tree, the Bird cherry is a tough contender, thriving in a wide range of environments, equally at home in a garden setting or amongst fellow natives in a woodland, especially on elevated or exposed ground. Unusual for this genus, the white blossom is fragrant, and is produced on long racemes in May, which attracts numerous pollinating insects. The small, black fruit are also a magnet for birds and small mammals in autumn/winter. Like most flowering cherries, the season is extended with changes of foliage colour from yellow to finally bronze in the autumn.

Planting Trees for Our Future

Acer campestre ‘Elsrijk’

Named after a street In Holland where it was discovered in the 1950’s, this cultivar of our native field maple has a more uniform, oval shaped crown than its’ parent, and is a popular choice for urban planting where it tolerates a wide range of growing conditions, including pollution and drought. The classic maple-shaped foliage emerges bright green with red edging and really delivers in autumn, when it turns a glorious golden yellow-orange colour. A medium sized tree, approximately 7-10 metres by 4-6, it would make be an excellent, option for city-centre screening or as a stand alone focal point in a larger garden.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Plant Centre and our Yurt Restaurant, but if you require any further information in the meantime, please contact

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