Tell Tale Trees
‘Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.’ – Warren Buffett
We don’t all have room for a mighty Oak or a London Plane tree in our backyards but there are many small trees that are very suitable for smaller space. Are you looking for a little shade or a bit of colour to brighten up your property? Here are six trees suitable for the small garden.
- Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) – A deciduous small treewith weeping habits or spreading canopies. Loved for their delicate leaves, which can be deeply lobed, sometimes to the point of being fringed. There are green- and red-leaf varieties that turn eye-catching shades of red, orange, and purple in autumn.
- Lavender Tree (Heteropyxis natalensis) – Indigenous to South-Africa, the lavender tree is a great addition to a garden. It is a hardy, slender, upright, narrow, semi-deciduous treewith truly beautiful, pale creamy bark that, with age, develops beautiful apricot coloured patches on it. The leaves are pale green, shiny and waxy and when crushed smell strongly of
- Wild Olive (Olea europaea subs. Africana) – The South-African equivalent of the European olive tree. It has a neat evergreen canopy that can easily be trimmed to size. Wild olives are not fast growers but they make excellent shade trees a few years after planting.
- Silver Birch (Betula pendula) – An all-time favourite for landscaping in small gardens. The Silver Birch has a very distinct papery bark making it a great focal point. It is often planted quite close together to resemble a mini forest.
- Sweet Thorn (Vachellia karroo) – Also known as Acasia karroo it is a very hardy, semi-deciduous, fast-growing and drought-resistant tree native to central South Africa. Abundant, fragrant, yellow puffball flowers light up the landscape, and adorn the tree intermittently throughout summer.
- Lagerstroemia indica (Indian Hawthorn) – A small slow growing tree with a lovely white/grey smooth bark. Around December these trees burst out in an abundance of flowers. In winter this dicidious tree displays its trunk and brances artfully against the winter sky.
- Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’ (Dwarf Southern Magnolia) – All the charm of a southern magnolia in a smaller size, the little gem magnolia is a popular ornamental choice for people living in small spaces. It is often used as a standout landscape specimen, to add evergreen beauty near decks and patios, as a floral screen or hedge, and in large containers. If you choose this variety, you will be rewarded early on. The shrub blooms as soon as two or three years old and provides a profusion of fragrant blossoms in those early years of growth.
If you have a small garden, focus on your vertical space. Select plants with an upright growing habit and use hanging baskets and other vertical planters to maximize your ground space.