When it comes to small gardens you would think that they are easier to plant and have looking good but the reality is in a large garden the space is easier to fill, in a small garden however the balance needs to be right and especially in town gardens like one of my customers who 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 for them 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 this Spring and then the rest of the year the tree would look uninteresting. It would need to be a little more inventive than that, 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 draw the eye, especially from the large expanse of glass at the rear of the house, providing structure and not so run of the mill.
My first choice was a topiary Ilex crenata with a quirky shape and balls of cleverly crafted foliage, not a large tree but 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, ideal for the busy young family.
My next option is 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.
Japanese Maples are another excellent choice for smaller gardens and they come in such an array of colours and shapes that there is most definitely something for every garden from small weeping trees at €90-€120 through to amazing specimens that are 60+ years old, from greens with orange tips to summer golds and on to deep reds and purples – the range we have of these beauties is wide and impressive.
The Lilac tree (Syringia Vulgaris) is a nice small sized tree and has the beauty of flowering in mid to late spring too, it comes in the usual, as the name suggests, lilac but also in white and pink too.
My last choice is 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 slightly more trimming but this isn’t a labour some task and is balanced out by it being the best value option for a focal tree for a small garden.
There are plenty of other options but here are just a few of the many specimens that we have on the nursery that work in small gardens but also as focal points, pieces of art in larger gardens or in pots for commercial buildings and their gardens.