It’s hard to imagine a landscape without garden trees and whilst I’m not exactly a tree hugger, I confess to being a bit of a hippy when it comes to admiring the majesty and dignity of mature trees. Often described as the lungs of the earth, trees are an important part of the world around us. This year, to coincide with the start of the tree planting season, National Tree Week is from the 25th November to the 3rd December when various local activities in and around Oxfordshire are planned by the Tree Council. The intension is the raise awareness of the importance of trees to us all and encourage participation in planting.
The best time of year to plant trees
If you’ve been thinking about planting a tree in your garden, now is the perfect time of year to be doing that. From about mid-November through to March, bare root trees and hedging plants are available from most garden centres. Bare root trees offer much better value than pot grown varieties being simply lifted straight from the ground while dormant ready for planting in a new location.
Even if you only have a small garden, it’s possible to find a suitable tree to fill a little space. The tree that you choose depends on your own taste of course, but if you want a flowering tree, look for one that has been grafted onto a smaller tree, this is quite common with ornamental trees. You really don’t need much space to grow fruit trees, if you choose one that has been trained as an espalier, or fan shape, these can grow quite happily next to a fence or wall, provided you prune it well every year. A good tree for winter interest is the Paper Bark Maple; as its name suggests, the bark peels off the tree and it has a very attractive Cinnamon coloured stem.
If you have a bit more space, the Himalayan birch is an excellent choice with its bright white bark reflecting the low winter sun with dazzling effect. The Eucalyptus, or Snow Gum, with it’s creamy white bark is very easy to grow in most Oxfordshire soil types, but can be a bit of a thug if not kept in check. Of course, with the rapid approach of Christmas, a Holly tree may appeal. However, a word of warning, if you buy a male you’ll never get the berries likewise buy a female without the male and the result will be the same. Nature bears out what I’ve always maintained – for best results in the garden, male and female input is required.
For more information about national tree week visit the tree council website: http://www.treecouncil.org.uk/Take-Part/National-Tree-Week