Trees for London Gardens

Trees are a very important part of the city landscape but when it comes to choosing the correct tree for your garden you might need some help.

Top tips for choosing a tree for a garden that is small or urban:

  • Check the ultimate height of the tree or if the the is suitable for regular pruning and shaping.
  • Will the tree have interest all year round? Consider how the tree will look throughout the seasons including leaf colour, bark and stem colour, overall height and habit and if the tree will produce fruit or flowers
  • If the tree is to provide privacy is it evergreen or perhaps it will not matter if the tree is deciduous because the leaves will fall in the winter when it is dark outside and your will be inside your house with the curtains closed and privacy is not an issue.
  • Have a walk around your local area and check what other trees are thriving and which specimens are not. You may notice some very large trees dominating small gardens and this something that you should avoid to ensure the right balance of privacy, structure, height and light in the garden particularly if it is a small space. Also consider any walls or foundations that may be at risk of cracking or moving with the root development from the tree.
  • If your property and garden is in a conservation area then you will require permission from your local authority to prune or remove the tree when it reaches maturity. Check with your local council tree department for the definitions of when the tree will need to be pruned.

Garden Club London – Top 5 trees for London gardens

1. Crataegus  ‘Pauls Scarlet’

This beautiful small Hawthorn is ideal for small London gardens and the is more commonly known as the ‘Midland hawthorn’, This small garden tree is laden with double red rosy blooms in late April and May, while the late summer and early autumn display of deep red berries is almost lavish and a haven for small garden birds to feed. The RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) has quite rightly given Crataegus ‘Pauls Scarelet’ the Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

2. Amelanchier  lamarckii

The textbooks will tell you that this tree will grow to 10 metres high and given a few decades and an arboretum then yes it will but pin a small garden it will be content with much smaller proportions of 3-4m with an annual prune and thin as and when required to form the shape of a large shrub rather than a tree. After a sparse winter of very little attraction apart from a thin framework of twigs the Amelanchier will burst into a cloud of white star-shaped blossom come April, before producing sweet purple-black fruits that will delight many smaller garden birds with a pre-winter feast. ­Another end of season attraction are the leaves that turn from bronze in spring to green in summer and then to brilliant red and fiery orange later in Autumn before the first frosts. Even when Amelanchier is bare in winter it is an asset, providing strong multi-stemmed structure.

3. Ginkgo  biloba

Ginkgo really is one of Garden Club London’s favourite trees and it can become a large tree over a long period of time but if the root system is contained by hard landscaping features then it will retain a moderate size. Commonly known as the maidenhair tree, Ginkgo is regarded as a living fossil. The unusual fan shaped leaves of the Ginkgo turn golden yellow in autumn and make a spectacular display in the autumn. What make Ginkgo particularly suitable as an urban garden tree is its resistance to pollution and disease.

4. Malus  ‘Evereste’

This is a stunning and simple  to grow small tree, Malus x ‘Evereste’ has masses or pale pink and white flowers in spring that result in clusters of edible, yellow and red, long lasting fruits in the autumn. A very good choice for a small garden tree for year round interest. The leaves also have excellent autumn colour when they turn glowing shades of orange and yellow before falling.

5. Acer palmatum  ‘Sango-kaku’

Otherwise known as the ‘Coral bark maple’. This is one of our favourite small garden maples with much more than autumn interest and a recent craze for eastern styled gardens to give it pride of place on our small garden tree list. ‘Sango-kaku’s’ bare winter structure is set ablaze by the coral red of the younger branches. Pinkish green leaves will coordinate well with your spring bulbs such as tulips and perennials before maturing to rich green. In autumn the leaves turn a brilliant yellow that contrasts well wit other autumn shades ­providing a nice foil for any showier reds and oranges nearby.