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Tree Guide

  • Trees & Shrubs for Bees - Introduction

    Firstly, why should you encourage bees into your garden?

    It’s a good question. Even if you’re averse to the fuzzy creatures, you can’t deny how important they are to the environment. As pollinators for most fruits and many vegetables, one in three mouthfuls of food you eat will have relied on bee pollination somewhere down the line.

    Considering the rapid declines affecting the global bee population, this is a sobering thought. Fortunately, you can plan your garden to encourage and shelter bees, providing valuable food sources and keeping our trees pollinated.

    Trees for Bees You can attract bees to the garden through species like the crab apple

    So then, how do you encourage bees into your garden?

    While you obviously need flowers, bees won’t relocate to anywhere without the chance to pollinate, certain flowers are more ‘bee friendly’ than others. Ideally, stick to single flowers. They’re larger, and make it easier for insects to gain access to nectar and pollen. In comparison, double flowered plants often contain little to no nectar.

    Secondly, keep on top of your garden’s seasonal plan. You might have a fantastic display of summer foliage, but if your spring flowerers are all spent there’s little reason for bees to stick around. Try and aim for staggered interest, extending the flowering season from early spring to the very last days of summer. Not only will this give bees plenty of support, but you’ll get a stunningly coloured garden over a large part of the year.

    What should you plant to encourage bees into your garden?

    Many garden favourites are excellent for bees, with apples, crab apples, and cherries performing well (particularly ornamental, single flowering cherries). You could also consider ornamental pears, or hawthorns and blackthorns.

    We’ll be updating with more tree choices a little more in the next couple of weeks, starting with Tilia (Limes). Be sure to check back regularly.

  • Plants for Summer Interest - Trachelospermum jasminoides | 'Star Jasmine'

    You might recognise this slow growing, evergreen climber from our newsletter this July, or possibly by its common alias of ‘Star Jasmine’. This is actually a misnomer, as the plant isn’t a jasmine. It’s a fine comparison though, with oval, glossy leaves playing host to white, jasmine-like flowers with a sweet scent. They’re extremely fragrant, and fade to a pleasant cream in July-August as they age.

    "Star Jasmine"

    It’s a great summer plant, and you’ll find yourself spoiled for planting choices if you find yourself lucky enough to get one. As an evergreen it’s suitable for screen training on a trellis or fence, or it could be planted by pillars, pergolas, arches, and sunny porches.

    So long as it has a warm, sunny and sheltered wall to grow against, and well-drained soil to grow above, it can provide a soothingly sweet scent to pools, seating areas, and arbors. If your garden already features deciduous climbers, such as ever-popular roses, Star Jasmine offers a welcome evergreen element into the mix when partnered with them.

    It can reach an ultimate height of 7 meters, but don’t let that deter you if you’re short on space. Star Jasmine takes its time growing, and can be easily contained if you set out a defined, smaller space. Also generally hardy to the cold (with occasional reddened foliage during a chilly winter), you’re unlikely to have much trouble maintaining the plant. Just take care if the need to prune does arise, as the stems and leaves exude a milky juice when cut.

    Star Jasmine is available now from only £43.20 including VAT, and marks an excellent way to expand your summer garden with a soothing, fragrant specimen. If you’re interest in similar plants, don’t hesitate to check out our other climbing plants for a little more variety, and contact us at any time for help and advice.

  • Plants for a Mediterranean Garden - Olives & Figs (20% off until July 31st!)

    There’s no denying it, summer is really here. It’s already much hotter than expected, and the impromptu heat waves show no sign of slowing down this July.

    But a hot summer is a brilliant thing, just leaving us with more reasons to get outside and enjoy the foliage and wildlife the season accompanies. If you’re looking to make the absolute best of your Mediterranean summer, there’s nothing better to invest in than some Mediterranean plants. We’ve already introduced you to a few Mediterranean plants here, but in special celebration of the sun we’re knocking a whopping 20% off our entire collection of Olives & Figs until the end of July!

    olives

    They’re one of the first steps towards bringing in a little Mediterranean ambiance to your home. We find an especially good use is to place them as ornamental borders, around patios, swimming areas and gravel gardens, or alternatively pot them and move them to seating and entertaining areas. This is especially useful for Figs, which may require moving indoors during heavy frosts. Olive trees, on the other hand, make for a fairly hardy evergreen specimen, just bear in mind that their fruit won’t ripen in UK conditions.

    Figs will produce edible fruit around August and September, so it’s worth investing a while in advance if you’re interested. Remember that they require a little attention in order to get the best yield, though. Fig roots grow extremely vigorously, and restricting them will result in better fruit production. Either pot them or place the rootball in a fig pit, by placing some barriers around them in the soil, such as stone slabs or protective membranes.

    They’re both great ways to start off your Mediterranean garden, though throwing in some aromatics (like Lavander) and Vines can only help, you can read a few more of our recommendations in the post linked above.

    If you have any more questions never hesitate to contact us, we always have a friendly member of staff on hand and ready to handle any queries and enquiries you might have, whether you need to set up an order or are just looking for a little advice to get started with.

    Don’t forget about our special promotional discount on all Olives & Figs, though! Still running at 20% off until the 31st July, 2013.

  • Make the Most of Summer – Thinning Apples, Pears and Plums

    June is just closing out, which means it’s time to start thinking about fruit thinning. Nature does part of the work for you, with fruit naturally falling to the ground as part of the ‘June drop’. Nonetheless, it’s important to get involved yourself.

    apple trees

    Thinning your fruit helps immature trees conserve energy, allowing them to expend it on developing roots, foliage and branches, creating a better infrastructure to harvest from in later years. This even carries over to mature trees. If a specimen expends too much energy on this year’s crop, there may be little to harvest upon the following year.

    This process benefits the remaining fruits, able to develop to a good size, with sunlight and oxygen easily penetrating branches to help even ripening of fruit and reduce disease. Similarly to how you wouldn’t plant grass near an immature tree, avoiding competition over resources aids the establishment of a productive garden.

    For Apples and Pears, you’ll want to start by removing fruit with an odd shape, position, or blemishes. Keep an eye out for the ‘king pin’, the apple at the centre of the cluster which will often meet these criteria and need removing. On newer trees, try to retain no more than 6 apples per three years of age. For older trees, try and keep one or two dessert apples per cluster, around 10-15cm apart. For cooking apples cut this down to one per cluster, 15 to 25cm apart. They can be removed using secateurs and scissors, or simply twisted off by hand.

    Plums have a habit of over cropping, so you’ll want to keep particularly aware of the above risks. Fortunately, they’re easy to thin out. Leave one pair every 15cm, and gently remove the rest with your thumb and forefinger to provide more than enough room to thrive and ripen.

    If your fruit have already dropped it’s time to get started, and you should ideally have finished thinning by mid-July. If you have any questions or queries don’t hesitate to contact us, and we’ll have someone on hand more than happy to help you with orders and advice.

  • Trees for Summer Foliage – Introduction

    USE In trees for summer foliage

    We spend a lot of time discussing the fruits and flowers of various species, they play a large part in defining the character of a tree, and affect the decision whether to buy very closely for most consumers. But these features are only a brief section of a specimen’s annual appeal, and the summer time has plenty to offer.

    There’s absolutely nothing like the colours accompanying fresh, new foliage. At this time of year we can expect to see greens shining their brightest, with the full range of nature’s palette on display among various species boasting leaves in pristine condition.

    For a particularly striking appearance, we’ve always loved Acer platanoides ‘Royal Red’ and ‘Princeton Gold’. These are a pair of large, tolerant maples, quick growing and great for summer screening and shade. What really helps them to stand out is their beautiful deep red and bright yellow summer foliage, they’re particularly stunning when planted as a structured combination, and you can see a little of the effect in the image above.

    There are options out there with even more unique foliage. Sorbus aria Lutescens, or ‘Whitebeam’, is remarkable for its rare, silvery leaves. It already features a beautiful goblet structure, but the foliage on this 12m tree means it will always stand out from the crowd. One of the smaller varieties of Japanese maple, Acer palmatum ‘Garnet’, boasts deep brownish-red to purple foliage in the spring, summer, and autumn, with large, dissected leaves spreading widely.

    There’s a huge amount of variety available, whether you’re looking for a few smaller specimens to stand out in the garden or larger landmarks within a public space. We’ll be discussing these in more detail later through the month, though you can always check our site for more details, and don’t hesitate to call us on 01435 862 992 if you’d like to set up an order or pose a question.

  • Jams, Jellies and Crab Apples

    We’ve already discussed two varieties of Crab Apple, so if you’re interested in a couple more Ornamental Crab Apple Trees you can check them out just beyond the link. Crab apples, or Malus, are excellent species to invest in. They’re adaptable and tolerant, with long life spans and lengthy interest from Spring and Summer flowers to Autumn fruits. It’s the fruits we’re interested in today, however, and we’ve picked out three species which stand out based on this factor.

    Golden Hornet is perhaps the most striking, with populous, bright yellow fruits offering a surprisingly dense splash of colour in the autumn and winter. IT’s manageable, hardy, and not too large for smaller gardens. We’d particularly recommend it if you enjoy local wildlife, blackbirds in particular are attracted to the fruits.

    One of the main benefits of owning a fruit bearing tree is the ability to source your own meals and condiments. Crab apple jelly is simple enough to make, and you’ll see great results from Malus Pink Glow. It features large, white scented flowers in late May, followed by sizeable plum-like fruits in the autumn. It’s disease resistant for the hands-off gardener who doesn’t want to keep close watch on things, though you may also wish to consider Malus John Downie. This has long been one of the most popular choices among jam makers, though be warned the species is prone to disease. We’re happy to offer advice if you’re wondering whether the tree is right for you.

    Any of these species will find a good home in your garden, though you shouldn’t overlook Evereste and Sun Rival, covered in our previous post. If you want to know anything more feel free to get in contact with us, and we’ll be happy to help.

  • Amelanchier

    Tree Suppliers

    We see a lot of amazing plants come through our nursery, and take pride in helping you make the right decision for your own garden and planting goals. Some species see a little more exposure than others, so today we’ll be taking the time to recommend Amelanchier, a brilliant genus with year-round interest.

    Amelanchier is one of the lesser known genera of spring flowering trees, especially when held up against ever-popular options like ornamental cherries. But Amelanchier has long been highly valued in horticulture, with pink buds opening to star-shaped white flowers appearing throughout April and May, followed by small, blue-black fruits which serve wildlife well, particularly winter birds. While the different species vary in their appearance, each and every one is renowned for strong autumn colouring (as long as on neutral to acid soil), making them well worth a look on your part.

    The genus features a wide variety of species, ranging from small, multi-stemmed clumped shrubs to more substantive trees, though we’re offering a selection of small standards, sized 175-200cm in height.

    Amelanchier lamarkii comes as a small tree or shrub with an ultimate height of 6-9 metres, particularly appreciated for beautiful autumn colouring as the leaves take on orange / red hues. While the species is very hardy, be aware that it’s unsuitable for shallow soils based over chalk.

    You may wish to compare Amelanchier ‘Robin Hill’. Though offering similar seasonal interest, this species will tolerate most soils, and features a similar ultimate height of 5-10 meters, though boasting a far more compact habit for stricter gardens than the wildly spreading Lamarkii.

    There are plenty more varieties to explore through our online catalogue, such as Amelanchier ‘Snowflakes’ or ‘Ballerina’. Browse our selection of Common trees for a wider look through, and never hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or queries you’d like a team member to help you with.

  • The Benefits of Native Hedging

    There are many options available to you while selecting plants for hedging. Options include evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs. Hedges planted with native plants are an attractive option for both gardens and farm hedges and are recommended by English Woodlands.

    For beginners, they are a fairly low-risk option. Through native hedging it’s possible to select species well-suited to local environmental conditions, for instance soil type and aspect. If chosen correctly, native plants can be found which establish well in most conditions. Carpinus betulus (hornbeam) is suitable for clay soils, where Euonymous europaeus (spindle) prospers in Alkaline. For windy locations Cratagus monogyna (hawthorn) proves tolerant to high winds, and Alnus glutinosa (alder) is tolerant enough of water to be planted along streams and rivers.

    Importantly, native hedging provides genuine assistance to the wildlife in your area. They provide a ‘wildlife corridor’ to serve as shelter for small mammals, and represent secure roosting and nesting sites. Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) and Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) provide berries to sustain birds. Beyond this, native plants chime well with the aesthetics of the British woodlands and forests, and you can achieve autumn colour from the Field Maple (Acer campestre) or Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus). The UK countryside has a distinctive feel, cultivated over centuries around our local flora, planting a native hedge contributes to the country’s unique aesthetics. Functionally, deciduous hedges serve as excellent windbreaks, or can even be grown to create a stock proof fence.

    We understand the importance of providing plants which pose a true benefit to the English environment, as well as your garden. There are a wide variety of native plants for hedging available in our nursery, and never hesitate to contact us with any queries you might have.

  • Plants for Winter Interest – Cornus Alba

    We must admit, when seeking plants to splash colour through our winter gardens it’s always nice to see the odd deciduous plant. Here we’ll be talking about Cornus alba, commonly known as the ‘red bark dogwood’.

    If the name didn’t clue you in, Cornus alba is noted for the vibrant red stem colouring it displays every winter. As can be seen in the featured image, at its best the red is so showy to seem almost lit up, making for an invigorating and unusual sight in an otherwise sparse garden. The plant has some merit during the rest of the year, with dark green leaves surrounding new clusters of tiny white flowers during late spring. In early autumn blueish-white berries start to appear, and are perfectly edible both for yourself and local birds.

    Optimising the plant for winter interest means minimising these other features, however. The bark is reddest on the previous summer’s growth, rapidly darkening for the spring. The plant requires minimum effort to keep, though if you want to see impressive colouring you’ll need to prune down the older branches thoroughly at the start of each spring, aside from the first year. Cornus alba is vigorous, so it’ll fill back out quite quickly.

    As far as placement is concerned, just make sure it enjoys moist soil in a sunny site, these factors maximise the red appearance of new growth. It functions well enough as a lone specimen, but grouping it with a number of others can produce colourful, if not especially dense, winter hedging.

    Cornus alba is an attractive plant with unique winter interest. We recommend it highly, so be sure to consider it when you’re planning for a new winter garden.

  • Plants for Winter Interest – Arbutus Unedo (Strawberry Tree)

    Winter can leave gardens feeling particularly bare and sparse, and finding ways to retaining a sense of life and colour over winter is a worthwhile goal for many. This can easily be achieved through informed planting choices, and with a little attention to structure any garden can remain invigorating throughout the colder months. One plant we’re happy to recommend on the merits of its winter interest is Arbutus unedo, the Strawberry tree.

    As an evergreen shrub it features a bushy habit and retains a full appearance throughout the year. The plant begins to take on interest in early autumn, when white, bell shaped flowers begin to appear at the end of each stem. These make for excellent contrast in the otherwise dreary autumn period. The previous year’s flowering will produce small red fruits ripening over autumn, again adding a welcome splash of colour. They drop of their own accord around November or December, making this an excellent winter and later autumn specimen. The fruits are edible yet bland, and will serve local wildlife quite well. They resemble strawberry marzipan petit fours, and birds will love them. Butterflies seek out the nectar from the flowers, and can often be seen frequenting them on sunny autumn days.

    You’ll want to plant Arbutus unedo in a well-drained soil with access to full sun. Being an evergreen with winter fruit it is naturally hardy, and requires no maintenance in terms of pruning. Left alone they’ll grow into a naturally bushy shape, though it’s safe to prune them into more formal ‘lollipop’ topiary shapes. The strawberry tree is appropriate for ground and container planting, though a group planted together as shrubs will be bushy enough to serve as noise barriers.

    The Strawberry tree is an excellent investment to liven up a garden over late autumn and winter, and comes highly recommended by the English Woodlands team. If Arbutus unedo doesn't seem right for you, then feel free to take a look at our blog series on plants for winter interest.

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