Trees for all Reasons

As promised last week, I’ve been looking at trees that are best for each circumstance and have come up with the following list, to hopefully cover the main circumstances our customers encounter. We think of this as ‘trees for a reason’, or to fit a purpose, where you need the trees you choose to either play a particular role; like provide screening and privacy, or suit specific conditions, like seaside or smaller sites.

Screening & privacy

Portuguese Laurel or Prunus Lusitanica Angustifolia is a wonderful plant for so many uses, it has dark green, long and slightly pointed leaves on rich red stems, very like the colours of the Portuguese flag! it is native to Southern France, Northern Spain and Portugal.

As well as being a very popular option for hedging, it is also an ideal species for growing as larger pieces of topiary or as a standard tree. It’s a really useful tree to create privacy above a wall or hedge that grows naturally into a spherical shape and grows well with little problems.

The Lollipop shaped trees can be grown in pots or planters as well as in the open ground and can create beautiful large specimens with the right amount of pruning. We love them clipped into dome shapes over time which creates a wonderful formal look, reminiscent of Victorian estate gardens.

Prunus Laurocerasus ‘Novita’ is a variety of laurel selected for its exceptional hardiness. A fast-growing evergreen with large, glossy, rich green leaves, ideal for hedging or screening or as a space-filler under trees. Long, upright clusters of scented white flowers open on untrimmed plants in April, followed by glossy black berries.

Ilex Nellie Stevens is lovely holly with deep dark leaves, which is self-pollinating so guarantees an abundance of berries in the autumn and winter.

Seaside & coastal sites

Quercus Ilex makes a robust and sturdy barrier, it is hardy and thrives in all well-drained soils. It is suitable for coastal areas, tolerates shade and copes well with air pollution. It also has a medium growth rate (20 – 30 cm/year) which responds well to trimming.

A large tree with attractive, corrugated bark and leathery evergreen leaves, it takes its name from Ilex which is the Latin name for holly. The leaves are glossy, dark green above and pale whitish-grey with dense short hairs below. Produces edible acorns in autumn, its slow growing and tolerant of regular pruning, when left to develop naturally, will eventually form a very large tree.

Fagus Sylvatica, or Beech either in tree or hedge form is a popular but glorious sight around the country and is an extremely smart option for a hedge and windbreak. Being semi-evergreen with its striking autumn / winter colours and also as a tree with the added benefit of giving some coverage in the winter months without the price tag of the evergreen options. It is however slow growing so unless you are very patient then we would recommend a slightly larger size.

Windy & exposed sites

Alnus Cordata or Italian Alder is a large, vigorous deciduous tree with rounded green leaves and long, up to 10cm, catkins. Its a great tree for a shelter belt and isn’t particularly fussy as to its soil. The Italian Alder grows in excess of 12metres high in eventual height and can take an exposed position.


Cotoneaster Cornubia is a vigorous, semi-evergreen tree or shrub. It can be grown as a hedge screen or as a tree. It grows to around 7 metres tall and provides year round interest, dark green leaves, white clusters of flowers at mid summer and masses of red berries in autumn when the leaves turn yellow. This is also a fantastic tree for screening.

Pyracantha Red Coumn / Red Firethorn, creates a dense and spiny evergreen hedge with bunches of small white flowers in summer and a magnificent show of round red berries in autumn. Loved by birds, it’s upright habit makes it ideal as a hedge, or for training against a wall. It is fast growing so will cover quite quickly to an eventual height of around 8-9 feet, spreading even wider.

Sound Barrier

Pinus Sylvestris, this Scotch Pine have been grown in our fields in Caragh, making them strong and bulky. Their needled blue green foliage and orange burnt red bark makes a lovely contrast.
The trunk is easily recognisable with a rugged texture, turning reddish brown near the top as it matures. Elevated above a tall trunk, sits the bushy, upright crown that is host to dozens of grey-brown pine cones developing from the female flowers. With a mature height in excess of 10metres, this conifer is suited to large gardens or woodland settings. For a small garden, you may want to look at our other Pine trees. The growth rate of Pinus Sylvestris is relatively fast for a conifer making it ideal for a sound barrier, screening and as a boundary tree.

Thuja Plicatta, or Western Red Cedar, is similar looking to Leylandii but not quite as fast growing so easier to maintain. Thuja have thick, olive green foliage that creates an ideal sound barrier as well as a dense privacy screen.

Thuja Smaragd’ or Emerald as it is also known is an evergreen conifer making a slow-growing conical shrub with erect sprays of bright green foliage. Plant individually as a specimen conifer or in a group or a formal row. Needs little, if any, trimming as it keeps it’s shape well. Growth rate 30cm per year.

Large sites

Quercus Robur, or Irish Oak, is a wonderfully rugged and very handsome deciduous tree providing a rich habitat for other plants and valuable source of food for wildlife. Ultimately a large tree with a broad head of spectacularly spreading branches filled with small clusters of catkins each spring. Masses of acorns follow in attractive autumn tints of bright yellow and russet brown. Ideal for larger gardens and open spaces.

Tilia Greenspire, this small leaved lime variety is an upright, neatly round-headed tree that produces sweet scented flowers in spring. Heart-shaped glossy green leaves with a pale underside, its a good fast growing choice for urban settings

Prunus Avium, the Wild Cherry is one of the great glories of the woodland in spring, and makes an excellent specimen tree. Its distinctive spreading branches are laden with masses of bowl-shaped white flowers in April and May, and its autumn performance is no less spectacular when the leaves turn fiery red and orange. With shining reddish-brown bark and a broadly conical shape, this tree has a lot to offer in winter too.

Acer Pseudoplatanus, or Sycamore, is an imposing tree with a thick  crown. Crown shapes can vary depending on the origin of the seed. Mature trees can reach a height of 40m and up to  500 years of age. It has green leaf buds which is strikingly different from the Platanoides Acers which have red leaf buds. The decorative grey trunk flakes off in small pieces. The leaf stalk does not contain milky sap, which is another difference from the Platanoides. The leaf is green on top, the underside is grey and slightly dimpled. Autumn colour is golden yellow. The wings of the nutlets are in a right to acute angle in relation to each other. Tolerant to wet and cold soils, also suitable for industrial estates and coastal areas.

Betula Pendula, or Silver Birch, is a graceful and attractive tree with its light airy foliage and distinctive white peeling bark. It has been an inspiration to writers, poets and artists in every season throughout the centuries. It is native to Ireland and its striking bark colour is one of the main reasons that the silver birch has become such a widely planted garden tree.

Small site

Prunus Yoshimo is an ideal small garden tree that is wide spreading, the Yoshimo cherry (cultivated for centuries in Yoshimo, Japan and introduced to Europe and America in 1902) is now one of the most popular flowering cherries worldwide. It has delicate, single white, sometimes blush, flowers in March-April that have a subtle, almond-like scent and emerge in a cloud of well packed clusters.

Prunus Amanagowa, or The Amanagowa Cherry is a small, fastigiate with a lightly fragranced display of pale pink double flowers in late spring. The green leaves turn orange to red in the autumn. Perfect for a small area or garden.

Sorbus Aria, or Whitebeam, is a medium sized tree, upright when young but spreading with maturity. Beautiful Silver foliage in the spring turning green grey. Creamy white clumps of flowers and then orange red berries. A good option for wildlife in the garden, the birds will love these berries and the bees and butterflies love the pollen.

The Amelanchier Lamarkii, or Snowy Mespilus, is a delightful small tree with a maximum growth of 8-10 metres, stunning autumn foliage and a display of white flowers in the spring. Its ideal for gardens as its fine in most soils and is virtually disease free.


Carpinus Betulus Fastigiata, this upright or Fastigiate hornbeam makes a superb specimen tree with its tidy upright head, it requires clipping once a year in mid- to late summer to keep it looking tidy.  Green catkins appear in spring and winged nuts develop in autumn.
This tree also works really well as an avenue tree, or along a driveway with its upright habit. A really popular stately looking tree. Most of these tree are feathered all the way to the ground.

Betula ‘Jaquimontii’, or Himalayan Birch, is a distinctive upright tree noted for its dazzling white stems that look good all year round, even when the foliage has gone. Fresh green summer foliage turns rich gold colour in the autumn. Although beautiful as a specimen tree, these trees are excellent to create an avenue effect, or in groups of 3 or 5 in an impressive bed. The wispy, light foliage makes it ideal for underplanting as it lets a good amount of light through.


Both Birch mentioned above, Betula Pendula and Betula Jaquimonti, as well as Alder or Alnus, are suitable for moist or wet ground.

Salix Babylonica, or Weeping Willows are also well known to love wet soil and are one of those tree species that have captured the imagination of artists down through the centuries. Next to rivers and lakes, they create such a focal point. In the winter landscape the Weeping Willows remain distinctive due to their bright drooping orange twigs, contrasting against the dark bark of the trunks. As the days lengthen to spring, that orange colour turns a beautiful limey green.
Willows are amazingly fast growing, and develop into a large tree over time. They need plenty of room as their spread is large too, approximately 10metres tall and just as wide.

As you can see we have plenty of options for everyone and are always happy to advise, should you have more specific requirements. Our online store remains open and we will continue to be on hand either by phone or email, regardless of whether you can travel to the nursery. May our gardens be our sanctuaries in these uncertain times, breath in that fresh Autumn air, keep calm and carry on gardening!



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