Trees are a delight in the garden and the larger the space you have available then the more you can enjoy them. There are far fewer tree varieties available than shrubs and for the owner of an average-sized plot the choice is strictly limited. There are the Flowering Cherries, Crabs and the Laburnum to provide beautiful blossoms from early spring to early summer. The Mountain Ash displays its brilliant berries in autumn and the Hawthorn makes a useful hedge around many gardens. Silver Birch adds a graceful touch and Robinia pseudoacacia 'Frisia' is used to provide sheets of bright yellow foliage throughout the growing season.
There are numerous other compact and attractive trees which can be used in the smaller garden. Don't be frightened off by words like Maple, Horse Chestnut or Ash, they all have garden varieties. The tragedy is that all too often a woodland giant is planted in a small garden because it looked nice at the garden centre. This is the sorry tale of the Weeping Willow and the Horse Chestnut. The problem is that we become sentimentally attached to the tree we planted ten or more years ago and so we leave it to cast its deep shade over windows, flower beds and the neighbour's garden. The rule is never to buy a tree until you have checked on the height it is likely to reach in about ten years' time.
Having chosen your tree, pick the planting site with care. Bearing in mind the mature height, never plant it close enough to the house for the roots to threaten the foundations. Also remember to leave enough room between trees to prevent the need for constant pruning when they are fully grown.
If you avoid these pitfalls then a carefully selected collection of trees can be a joy. We add height and colour to the garden and to some extent we screen ourselves off from the rest of the world.
With all woody plants, careful selection, planting and pruning are vital to some extent. In the case of trees, both selection and planting need close attention but pruning is not generally an important task once the plants are established.
Alberta Spruce 'Spiral' and 'Poodle': These very distinctive trees have been clipped into exquisite shapes. It is actually a pyramidal but can be clipped to almost any shape. It's feathery light green needles are exceptionally attractive right through the summer. However it is subject to winter burn so a sunny location and winter protection are recommended. Note: Purchase these trees full grown, although the expense is much higher so is the success rate.
The Alberta Spruce 'Spiral' Tree: requires plenty of water, winter protection and a very light pruning once a year.
Clematis: Colour your walls with clematis. Every garden can house one of these beautiful vines. Bursting with colour they can be used on trellises, walls, crawling over mailboxes or climbing up your favorite shrub or tree. I planted two in a flower box to cover a trellis. I chose the Comtesse De Bouchaud that are medium sized pink flowers with the JackmanII that are large deep violet-purple flowers. The flowers are borne in abundance and grow rapidly. It is important to train the flowers by lacing them through the trellis. The result is just spectacular. They are very hardy and should be cut back at the end of the season to approximately 3'.
Dwarf Colorado Intense Blue Spruce: This is my all time favorite tree. It is a silver blue colour that sparkles in the sun. It attains a height of approimately 15'. The symmetrical (Christmas Tree) shape and intense colour provide a magnificent specimen that is hard to rival. An expert gardener in the city of Toronto paid me an enormous compliment. He told me that he travels throughout the city to maintain lawns, shrubs, flowers and trees. He said he attends several mansions and many of the posh areas in the city. Then he turned to me and said "Your Colorado Intense Blue Spruce is the loveliest tree in the city. I have not seen any tree that can compare with this one. It is stunning." When you receive compliments like this, you are truly taken back. Gardening is a hobby and comments such as these make your efforts feel so very worthwhile. Don't be surprised if a neighbour copies some of your ideas. Always bear in mind that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!