GARDENING: Choosing a tree for a tiny garden

With Jo McGarry of Caragh Nurseries

Jo McGarry, Caragh Nurseries

Reporter:

Jo McGarry, Caragh Nurseries

Email:

jo@caraghnurseries.ie

Gardening: Choosing a tree for a tiny garden

Cupressus Castlewellan Gold Bonsai Form

When it comes to small gardens, you would think that they are easier to plant and have looking good than bigger spaces.

The reality, however, is that in a large garden, the space is easier to fill. In a small garden, however, the balance needs to be right, especially in town gardens.

One of my customers has recently moved into a lovely modern house in a development where the houses are large and relatively spacious, but, unfortunately, the gardens are tight and often overlooked. My customer’s parents came to me looking for a tree as a gift.

I knew the gardens, and although the obvious choice against the off-white exterior walls was a lovely pink cherry tree, that would only work for three to four weeks in spring, and then for the rest of the year the tree would look uninteresting.

My suggestion would need to be a little more inventive than that - perhaps something evergreen, with structure and a little more personality.

I came up with a number of choices for the focal point of this garden that would provide structure and draw the eye, especially from the large expanse of glass at the rear of the house.

My first choice was a topiary Ilex crenata with a quirky shape and balls of cleverly crafted foliage. This is not a large tree but is a wonderful example of topiary for gardens. These trees need little maintenance as they grow slowly, and a trim every two years is more than sufficient to keep the shape nicely. It is ideal for the busy young family.

My next option was an Osmanthus aquafolium parachute form tree. A parachute form tree is a multi-stemmed tree, similar to the suspension lines with a mound of foliage crown that looks just like the canopy of a parachute.

The Osmanthus is an evergreen tree with small, white, fragrant flowers in the late spring and again keeps its shape well. They are popular in this shape and so come in a number of sizes and maturity, starting at €360.

My last choice was one with slightly more colour - the Cupressus Castlewellan Gold Bonsai Form with a single stem and balls of golden yellow foliage making their way all the way up the stem. It is slightly faster growing, needing a bit more trimming - but this isn’t a laboursome task and it is balanced out by it being the best value option for a focal tree for a small garden.

There are plenty of other options available - but the above are just a few of the many specimens that we have on the nursery that work in small gardens but also as focal points or pieces of art in larger gardens or in pots for commercial buildings or gardens.