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Tree Guide

  • 2014: A Fruitful Year for Fruit Trees

    After a long wet winter, most areas in the UK have enjoyed a long warm growing season with plenty of sunshine, albeit between the showers! It so happens that these are perfect conditions for fruit trees. At blossom time the weather was generally warm and dry, which has meant a good fruit set in spring. Now, the fruit is ripening, and gardeners can begin to harvest the top fruit.

    However, it is not as simple as just picking the fruit off the trees. There is a right way to go about collecting your fruit, and different fruits must be picked at different times. Plums must be picked as soon as they are ready (and before the wasps get to them) when they are soft to the touch. Apples should be sweet and crunchy and pears must be firm but sweet before they are picked. Windfall from apple trees is often a good indicator of readiness.

    In order to know whether it is the right time to start picking, it is a good idea to take a sample or two first so you know when to start the harvest. If you pick too early, the fruit will not have properly developed and therefore will not be as tasty as possible, but if you pick the fruit too late, it will not keep as well.

    Fruit currently being harvested includes plums, damsons and gages, all of which can be cooked in crumbles and tarts or made into jams. They can even be frozen until winter to save yourself a taste of summer. Figs are also ready to harvest, while medlars and quinces are not far away.

    Harvest times vary from year to year depending on the locality, but this year has seen a trend of top fruit ripening early. In order to make the most from your fruit trees, you must pick the fruit as it ripens. If top fruit is ripening early, picking the fruit from the top first is best. It is also important to pick fruit on a dry day, as moist conditions can cause fruit to spoil faster.

    Plum Victoria, Ripe Fruit Victoria Plums ripe and ready to pick!
    Cambridge Gage, Ripe Fruit, Ripe Gage Cambridge Gages ripening

    For any more tips on harvesting fruit trees, or for any general inquiries, please get in touch with us. The knowledgeable English Woodlands team are available Monday-Friday on 01485 862992, or you can leave an inquiry on our contact page and our team will gladly get back to you. 

  • Attract Bees to your Garden with Ornamental trees

    Whether you like them or not, bees are of critical importance to our environment: they are pollinators for fruit and vegetable crops, and they are producers of honey and other medicinal foods.

    Unfortunately, with the global bee population in decline due to habitat and disease problems, the pollination of fruit trees and cultivation of fruit and vegetables is in jeopardy. Yet garden owners can do something small to counter this, by planting a number of ornamental/fruit trees in their back garden to attract bees, helping them on their way to provide vital food sources and to keep our fruit-bearing trees pollinated.

    Firstly, you may want to be aware that certain flowers are more accommodating to bees than others. Single flowers tend to be your best bet, as they are larger, and therefore more accessible for insects to find the nectar and pollen. In contrast, many double flowered plants do not produce nectar at all.

    It also may be worth maintaining a varied seasonal plan, in which your flowering season stretches from early spring to the very last days of summer. If you plant too early, there is a large chance the pollen will be all used up in a short space of time. Aiming for what we might call ‘staggered interest’, with a variety of perennial plants, will see the flowering season extend from early spring right up until the end of summer, giving the bees a great deal of support over the longest period of time.

    In terms of suitable species for attracting bees to your garden, English Woodlands has a number of suggestions:

    • Spring – ornamental crab apples and pears, such as Malus and Pyrus species
    • Early flowering Cherries such as Prunus cerasifera Nigra
    • Hawthorns such as Crataegus prunifolia and Crataegus Monogyna

    As for summer flowering trees, Tilia lime trees are certainly attractive to bees (although some species are more so than others, for instance, some have a soporific, almost narcotic effect).

    In late spring and early summer, shrubs such as Elder and Cotoneaster cornubia are valuable sources of nectar, while climbers such as Honeysuckle will all variety before the autumn.

    Finally, as late summer gives way to autumn, Arbutus unedo, a strawberry tree, has both flowers used as a pollen source for bees and fruits for birds, while the shrub Elaeagnus ebbingei has small white fragrant flowers, making it a bee-friendly option as a hedge plant.

    arbutus enedo

    For any more tips on which trees are best for attracting bees to your garden, or for any general inquiries, please get in touch with us. The knowledgeable English Woodlands team are available Monday-Friday on 01435 862992, or you can leave an inquiry on our contact page and our team will gladly get back to you.

  • Read Our Selection of the Best Trees For Screening to Protect your Privacy….

    One of the most common problems we hear about our customers’ gardens are their  ‘next door nightmares’ – a term some apply to the likes of unsightly extensions, overlooking windows from other houses, and even trampolines (and trampolining children!)

    The summertime is the time when many of you will have the chance to enjoy your garden in peace and seclusion. Ensuring you have the background you want during the summer season is something well worth planning in advance for.

    Although Autumn to Spring is the traditional tree-planting season, here at the nursery we receive enquiries all year round about screening – and summer is certainly an ideal time to plan for autumn planting.

    We have plenty of screening solutions that will suit your garden preferences, whether you simply want a bit of privacy, if you want to create a haven for wildlife or even if you want to create your own artistic paradise.

     

    Evergreen Trees and Hedge Plants

    When our customers come seeking screening solutions, evergreen plants tend to be a popular choice, due to their year-round endurance.

    Evergreen conifers such as Cupresssocyparis x leylandii (Leyland) are great fast growing plant with thick foliage, that can work well if pruned regularly.

    Thuja plicata (Western Red Cedar) is a great alternative that you can trim back hard if necessary and it will still regrow.

     

    Alternative Evergreen Options

    Photinia Red Robin and Prunus Lusitanica (Portuguese laurel) are non-conifer evergreens that can achieve a total 5-6m in height, they are hardy and popular hedge plants that many of our customers also grow as standard trees.

    Other non-conifer evergreens include:

    Laurus nobilis (Bay) - great in a sunny well-drained site, and very pruneable

    Ilex (Holly) – a hardy and wind tolerant tree

    Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree)

    Cotoneaster cornubia (Semi-evergreen)

     

    Deciduous trees

    The advantage of using deciduous trees for screening is that there is a lot more variety available. Many of these trees grow quickly, and add foliage, flower and fruit interest.

    Although they lose their leaves, some deciduous trees and hedges have screening advantages. For example, trees that keep their leaves well into autumn such as Crataegus lavallei and Pyrus Chanticleer still give screening in the garden during sunny autumn days; other trees with large leaves such as Acer platanoides varieties provide good foliage cover during summer months when you are most likely to be in the garden; and trees with well branches crowns such as Crataegus – hawthorns - give some filtered screening even without leaves and let light in during darker months.

    Finally, pleached trees are another popular screening choice: normally planted in a line on a bamboo framework, and having the effect of a hedge on stilts, these are perfect for above-fence screening in restricted spaces. Tilia species, Carpinus and Pyrus Chanticleer are popular and functional options for pleached trees; you can browse our full range of pleached trees here.

     

    Advice

    Of course, all of this depends on your garden or site and the suitability of trees or hedges for the location – we aim to give the right advice to find a solution for your garden. If you want to talk to any of our friendly team about planning your options give us a call on 01435 862992.

    Or, you can leave us a message on our contact page, and we’ll endeavour to promptly get back to you.

    Thuja Occidentalis Brabant Thuja Occidentalis Brabant
    Pyrus calleryana Chanticleer Pyrus calleryana Chanticleer
  • Summer time tips from English Woodlands

    July and August is not an ideal time for tree planting. However, the summer months are great for simply enjoying a garden in full bloom, complemented by glorious sunshine; the summer time is also a good time to start planning for autumn!

    Summer trees for shade

    Prominent trees featured in towns and cities are particularly welcome as the temperatures start to soar. Adding much needed shade to the streets and softening the outline of buildings, trees add a certain beauty with their foliage and form. Parks form ‘green lungs’ in built-up areas and transform high streets into attractive avenues. So enjoy the feel good factor of trees wherever they are this summer!

    Some of our favourites trees for shade include:

    Other plants to enjoy

    Moreover, there are many plants to enjoy around a patio or pool in summer include olives, figs, palms and bamboos. Have a good look around the garden to see what foliage colours and shapes you could add. Green is restful, gold and burgundy foliage can be added as a highlight, and variegated plants love the sun!

    Top tips

    If you are going on holiday this time of year, remember newly planted trees and shrubs need watering so do make arrangements for this with your neighbours or friends if you are going away!

    Some more top tips for what to do during summer include:

    • Tie in and train new growth on climbers such as Wisteria and Clematis
    • Prune new growth on apple and pear trees to retain shape and encourage fruiting side shoots next year.
    • Trim all topiary plants, such as bay, to keep them in a neat shape – and feed them if they are in containers.
    • Make sure you keep watering all your newly planted trees and shrubs!

     

    Looking good in the nursery just now:

    hydrangea Hydrangea
    imperata cylindrica Imperata Cylindrica
    phyllostachys vivax aureocaulis Phyllostachys vivax aureocaulis

    If you want to find out more about the products listed above, then just let us know. Visit our contact page to find out how to get in touch.

  • What to do with fruit trees during the ‘June Drop’

    Now we’re halfway through June, owners of fruit trees may have noticed the fruit starting to drop off from the trees.

    Commonly known as the ‘June Drop’, the early summer sees fruit trees flowering to the extent that they naturally shed some of their produce.

    english woodlands fruit trees

    This is usually caused by either an excessive fruit load, whereby there is a surplus amount of fruit that becomes too heavy for a tree to carry.

    Other causes tend to be that a tree has limited carbohydrate resources and needs to lose fruit to respire properly, or even turbulent weather conditions. Another major cause of damaged fruit, unsuitable for a crop, is inadequate cultivation, and this is something that you can rectify yourself.

    Pruning to allow the tree’s branches, in order for it to access more light, is one method that gardeners may want to try.

    Another useful method is to thin your fruit (i.e. manually removing any surplus) in order to help immature trees to conserve energy. Instead this energy will be spent on developing roots, foliage and branches, meaning the tree will have a better foundation to harvest in future years. Certainly, it is important that a specimen does not expend too much energy in a year’s crop, lest it affect the next year’s produce.

    Pruning and thinning benefits the remaining fruits, allowing them to develop to the right size, and allowing them good access to sunlight and oxygen.

    When it comes to apple or pear trees, you will want to remove any fruit that has an odd shape, position, or that are damaged in any way. Within any given cluster, there will often be a ‘king’ fruit that has all of these attributes, and will definitely need removing right away. Make sure you use secateurs or long scissors for the job, or you can twist them off by hand if that’s easier.

    Plums have a habit of over-cropping too, but are easy to thin out with a thumb and forefinger; leave out one pair every 15cm.

    If your fruit has already started dropping, you will want to get started thinning and pruning, maintaining the trees as you see fit until mid-July.

    If you have any questions or queries on best pruning and thinning practices, don’t hesitate to contact us. If you’re hoping to buy fruit trees then we have pear, apple, cherry, plum trees and more available online, in our fruit trees category.

    Furthermore, if you would like to purchase any of our hedges, shrubs, accessories, or trees for gardens, then feel free to browse the site to view our comprehensive selection.

  • Varieties of native ornamental cherries

    March is the time when early ornamental cherries start coming out in blossom (in  previous blogs we’ve highlighted some of the earliest of these varieties). While there are an abundance of lovely ornamental cherry trees to choose from, we’d like to introduce you to two particularly pleasing cherry trees that you may not be so familiar with:

    Prunus avium Plena – the double white flowering variety of wild cherry

    Prunus avium Plena Prunus avium Plena

    This is a medium-sized tree that eventually reaches a height of 8-12m. It has a 4-6m spread with a rounded and regularly branched crown. While it has glossy bark and leaves turn orange-yellow in the autumn, it is arguably more attractive in the spring, with pendulous bundles of double snow-white flowers in April to early May.

    The flowers are sterile, and hence do not produce fruit. Generally undemanding of soil type as long as it is well drained, this ornamental cherry is chalk tolerant and an ideal park and avenue tree that also suits medium to large gardens.

    While not as flamboyant as some of the Japanese ornamental cherries, we recommend Prunus avium Plena as a stunning, graceful tree which will fit neatly into a naturalistic garden or a woodland setting.

    Prunus padus Watereri bird cherry

    Prunus padus Watereri Prunus padus Watereri

    A fast growing cherry tree, Prunus padus Watereri ultimately reaches a 10m height and spread. One of its most distinct characteristics are its unusual, fragrant white flowers, which appear in May and hang in long pendulous racemes. This tree’s blue-ish green coloured matt leaves also transform into a fine shade of yellow in autumn.

    Managing to be very hardy and tolerant of a wide range of soil types, Prunus can also tolerate temporary drought as well as wetter soils, this tree can cope where other cherry trees may not thrive.

    The tree produces pea sized cherries in late summer that, while edible, tend to have a bitter taste, hence the cherries are usually reserved for use in preserves in some parts of Europe.

    Nevertheless, as a long-lasting medium to large ornamental cherry tree, Prunus padus Watereri can ultimately be used to great effect in amenity plantings, large gardens and in open naturalistic settings.

    As ever, if these native ornamental cherries are of interest, please feel free to contact us for more information and advice!

  • On promotion this month - Pyrus Chanticleer

    Pyrus Chanticleer – or the ornamental callery pear – is now on promotion online at English Woodlands. An early flowering ornamental pear, Pyrus Chanticleer is a hardy, wind tolerant plant, which even manages to be resilient in exposed, coastal winds. Furthermore, it is tolerant of atmosphere pollution.

    Functional throughout the year, its lovely cream spring flowers and glossy green leaves are stunning in the summer and are followed by a good yellow red colour in the autumn, that lasts as long as late November.

    Ultimately reaching heights of 12m in maturity, Pyrus Chanticleer is fully prunable too.

    For all these reasons, Pyrus Chanticleer just happens to be among our favourite trees.

    To take advantage of a 20 per cent discount on these trees during March, simply enter the code ‘MARCH14’ at the checkout when order.

    Visit our promotions page to see all the pear trees on promotion this month.

    pyrus chanticleer

  • Focus on Salix – Willows

    With some areas of the country having been affected by wet ground and flooded landscapes over the course of this winter, we have been thinking about trees and shrubs that are resilient enough to withstand waterlogged or wet conditions.

    One such species that can be effective in these conditions are Willows (Salix species), which can be used for a variety of purposes in soil that tends to be wet.

    Ornamental, yet functional trees

    When established, specimen trees that can withstand wet sites actually help to reduce water in the area. Their roots are notable for their durability: they can absorb water through the roots, which are then carried through the tree and transpired out through its leaves.

    Willows can be used as specimen trees – such as the iconic Salix alba chrysocoma (famously known as the weeping willow) and are often seen beautifying river banks and ponds, but they also have many uses as shrubs.

     

    Salix

    Basket making

    Traditionally willows have been used in basket making, with the common osier or Salix viminalis commonly used for this purpose; other varieties such as white willow and scarlet willow (Salix vitellina and Salix alba britzensis) can be used for basketry too.

     

    While plants are usually kept coppiced (i.e. cut close to the ground to encourage further growth) to provide stems suitable for basket making, they can also be left to grow as a single stem and pollarded (cut higher up) to avoid damage from any curious, passing animals.

    Stabilising river banks

    Planting willow by rivers or streams is thought to help reduce bank erosion and prevent flooding. While native shrubs and taller plants are useful, willow trees are an ideal choice for this purpose, as they root easily and are quick growing.

    Design

    Willows are an ideal specimen shrub to feature in a winter garden. To be planted in broad drifts and pruned in the spring to encourage the brightly coloured new growth, Willows can be used to startling effect alongside bulbs such as snow drops, and with trees such as the white stemmed Himalayan birch (Betula utilis jaquemontii)

    English Woodlands supply Salix willow bare root trees and shrubs from November to March in varieties suitable for coppicing, hedging, river side planting and ornamental use in the garden as well as specimen trees in containers all year round - it is a genus well worth discovering!

  • Trees & Shrubs for Wet Conditions

    While the winter may be the best time to plant dormant deciduous plants, the chance of extreme weather needs to be considered, with 2014 being no exception. Many areas in the UK have suffered from floods and waterlogging, with conditions expected to continue through January.

    Most trees and shrubs prefer good drainage, but some species cope better than others with periods of flooding and waterlogging. If your site is susceptible to these conditions, you may want to consider some of those pictured below. Click the slideshow for a few extra details.

    If any sound interesting, Scroll down to find a link to each product's store page, complete with extra images and details.

     

     

    Any of these are highly recommended if you're expecting wet soils. See below for additional links and species you might be interested in, though. If you'd like any extra help picking out an appropriate species for your site, feel free to contact English Woodlands at any time, we're always happy to lend a hand.

    In addition to these, some species will tolerate wet ground and only short periods of flooding, seen below.

    • Acer pseudoplatanus varieties – Sycamore
    • Betula Nigra – River birch
    • Catalpa bignonoides – Indian bean tree
    • Cornus sanguinea – common dogwood
    • Cornus stolonifera – yellow dogwood
    • Euonymous europaeus – spindle
    • Quercus palustris – pin oak
    • Quercus robur – English oak
    • Sambucus Nigra – elder

    Most evergreen conifers prefer well-drained soil, though some will tolerate wet ground and short periods of waterlogged soil.

    • Pinus sylvestris – Scots pine
    • Thuja plicata – Western Red Cedar
  • Plants for Christmas - Hollies

    Holly is a classic plant for Christmas, and any gardeners with a vested interest in the seasons. Even before Christmas, holly was used to decorate homes in celebration of the winter solstice, and the plant has only gained popularity as an ornamental specimen since then.

    It’s smart, hardy, evergreen, and makes for a useful native shrub or tree. There are many varieties to explore here, though you’re likely most familiar with the native Ilex acquifolum. Female trees produce the vibrant, red berries we now associate with Christmas, though they need the help of a male tree nearby to pollinate.

    This is one of the reasons Ilex acquifolum is commonly put to use in hedging and boundaries. In mixed hedging and rural areas there will usually be enough of both trees to produce holly berries, and once fully established holly provides a prickly deterrent to humans and animals alike.

    Ilex acquiform

    Ilex acquifolum, showing striking colours in berries and foliage

    Other varieties are self-fertile, and will generally produce berries whether there are other plants around or not. If you’re looking for a gift or purchase for planting in a smaller garden this is the way to go. See variegated hollies for good examples of self-fertile specimens. Ilex aquifolium argentea marginata has a cream and green leaf, while Ilex ‘Nellie Stevens’ boasts a glossy green leaf slightly less prickly than common holly, with a good crop of bright red berries. Placed nearby a house with light falling on variegated hollies can really brighten up dull, winter days.

    Nellie Stevens

    ‘Nellie Stevens’, featuring smoother, glossy leaves

    If you have a keen interest in topiary, there are even holly variants to compare with conventional topiary box. Ilex crenata, the Japanese Holly, is an ideal smaller shrub for shaping into a stunning bonsai or topiary specimen.

    While fit for many purposes, holly’s undemanding nature makes it especially appropriate as a gift. It’s generally appropriate for most soil types and situations. It’s wind tolerant, and the green varieties are shade tolerant too.

    So if you’re still stuck on finding the right plant for winter, it’s worth taking another look at holly.

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