Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

IT'S TIME TO LET YOUR FERTILE IMAGINATION BLOSSOM; Trees Can Offer a Small Town Garden or Patio Big Rewards. Choose Well and They Will Even Help You Enjoy the Winter

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

IT'S TIME TO LET YOUR FERTILE IMAGINATION BLOSSOM; Trees Can Offer a Small Town Garden or Patio Big Rewards. Choose Well and They Will Even Help You Enjoy the Winter

Article excerpt

Byline: Pattie Barron

NATIONAL Tree Week starts next Wednesday, officially marking the start of the winter tree planting season. The campaign encourages us to help the environment and green up the scenery by planting trees in parks and schools, fields and woodlands, but there is no better place to start than in your own garden.

Choose a tree with care. In the same way trees define the natural landscape, they define your garden's landscape, giving it more character than anything else. Bring the Mediterranean native Cercis siliquastrum, the Judas tree, into a bare border and you have set the scene, at a stroke, for a delectable gravel garden with silver and grey drought-loving plants.

In mid spring, the rich pink pea flowers that sprout directly from the bare branches and trunk makes this tree a stunner, and the heart-shaped leaves that follow are another asset. A sunny spot is all it requires.

Grow the designers' darling, the purple-leaved Cercis canadensis Forest Pansy, and enjoy the bonus of striking reddish-purple foliage.

Plant a cluster of Betulis pendula, at the bottom of the garden and you install the framework of a small-scale woodland copse that adds the magical flavour of Narnia through winter.

With its dappled shade through the rest of the year, your birch glade will provide the perfect excuse for growing woodland beauties beneath its canopy, such as hellebores, dicentra and daphnes. Multi-stemmed birches -- strictly speaking, multi-trunked -- make the most stunning silhouettes of all.

Conifers are less evocative but they serve a different purpose: to create privacy by making a solid screen. However, they offer little else, either to wildlife -- aside from birds using them for cover -- or to the look of the land. Unless you need a conifer's dense growth to blot out an eyesore, why settle for a tree that never changes when you can choose one that marks every season? An amelanchier or snowy mespilus, for instance, provides so much through the year -- delicate spring blossom, deep-purple fruit, copper-tinted foliage, great autumn colour -- that you can forgive it for eventually shedding its leaves over winter. …

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