The mighty oak tree is the national tree of numerous countries, including Ireland. The standard bearer for strength, endurance and durability and sacred to many Gods, including Zeus and Jupiter – its importance in history and mythology cannot be overstated.
Native to the northern hemisphere, oak belongs to the genus Quercus and from the point of view of us on the nursery it is our biggest selling group of trees. We grow a good amount of Oak Trees from the red Oak to the Cork Oak and through to the Evergreen Oak. We do bring a good deal of these more mature trees in from the continent and have been doing for years without any issues. Our Evergreen Oak Selection from Italy has been huge and includes espaliered trees and standard trees both ideal for screening.
While we have been aware of the Oak Processionary Moth and the implications of this we have also been very confident in our partner nursery in Italy and OPM has not been found in this area at all and they and we are subject to regular checks by the relevant departments to ensure this status remains so. We now are in the unfortunate situation that following a case of OPM in Ireland that restrictions have tightened and we are unable to bring any Oak trees of any kind in to Ireland from overseas.
While this is a blow it isn’t the end of the world and this will encourage a better growth of Irish Oak in Ireland but for now it is encouraging us think outside the box and look at other options to the Evergreen Oak and here we have a few alternatives that are just as good and will do an equally good job.
For Espaliered / Pleached Trees we recommend Ilex Nellie Stevens as a great alternative.
Its another Evergreen option that is deep green all year round with a very similar leaf shape but has the added bonus of berries in the Autumn/Winter time, the Nellie Stevens variety is self-fertile so is guaranteed to berry. The real bonus for this option is that it is cheaper than the Evergreen Oak by €150. We have pre-empted the high demand for this option and have secured 500 of these trees to ensure that we have current availability.
For Standard Trees we have a few recommendations
Laurus nobilis or Bay laurel look quite similar in leaf shape again, slow growing and keeps its shape well, the trees have a 1.8m clear stem and a total height currently of 2.4metres.
Ilex Nellie Stevens again produces a great standard tree, very similar in shape and dimensions and with 3 size options this makes a very good option.
Elaeagnus ebbengei has a green and silver foliage and lovely bushy head with the added bonus of a highly scented tiny creamy white flower in the late summer to early autumn. It comes in the usual dimensions to the evergreen oak with a 1.8metre clear stem and good sized head for screening and privacy as well as blocking lines of vision that you’d rather not be looking at every day.
Evergreen Magnolia Little Gem or Magnolia Grandiflora Little Gem is a great standard tree for an urban garden, especially in a slightly warmer location, they work very well in Dublin and Cork and down in the Southern Counties, probably not for you if you live in the North or West of the country. Those lovely scented large blooms make this a real showstopper.
Photinia Red Robins is also a great alternative but a great seller in its own right too, this splash of colour and good bushy heads make these a great standard tree, they grow quicker than some of the other options and so the heads can get bigger quicker and it also keeps the cost down, win-win for everyone. With 4 size options from modest through to a fantastic screening option you can’t go wrong with these trees .
If you need assistance with any of your trees and plant choices or would like advice on the best trees for screening and privacy in your garden, we are always happy to help on the usual contact numbers