Tag Archive: autumn colour


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M.

Malus is a genus of about 30–55 species of small deciduous trees, including the domesticated orchard apple (M. domestica) and varieties of crab apple (including the ‘wild apple’, M. sylvestris). This profile focuses in particular on the crab apples. 

Common name:  Non domestic orchard apples are generally known as crabapples, crab apples, crabs, or wild apples.

Native areas: The genus is native to the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere.

Historical notes: In the past, M. sylvestris was thought to be an important ancestor of the cultivated orchard apples (M. domestica), but these have now been shown to have been originally derived from the central Asian species M. sieversii. However, another recent DNA analysis showed that M. sylvestris has contributed to the ancestry of modern M. domestica very significantly.

Features: Domestic orchard apple trees are typically 4–12 metres tall at maturity, with a dense, twiggy crown. The leaves are 3–10 cm long, alternate, simple, with a serrated margin. The flowers are borne in corymbs, and have five petals, which may be white, pink or red, usually with red stamens that produce copious pollen. Domestic apple trees are large if grown from seed, but small if grafted onto roots (rootstock). There are more than 7,500 known cultivars of domestic apples, resulting in a range of desired characteristics. Crab apples tend to be smaller than domestic apple trees at around 5 – 7 metres tall, with a rounded profile.

Uses:  Crab apples make ideal specimen trees for small gardens. They are popular as compact ornamental trees, providing blossom in Spring and colourful fruit in Autumn. The fruits often persist throughout Winter. Numerous hybrid cultivars have been selected, of which ‘John Downie’, Evereste’ and ‘Red Sentinel’ have gained The Royal Horticultural Society’s ‘Award of Garden Merit’ (AGM):

Malus sylvestrisarguably, one of the UK’s prettiest native trees, a small crab apple (or ‘wild apple’) with profuse white flowers, tinged pink in bud, and with good yellow autumn colour. Yellow/ green and occasionally red flushed fruit are a bird’s favourite in the autumn. Ideal for native mixed plantings or shelter belts that provide great low cover for wildlife.

Malus floribundathe ‘Japanese Crab’ is most elegant, with early white/pale blush flowers from crimson buds. However, it is prone to apple scab after flowering, resulting in a rather threadbare crown. Because of this it has tended to be superceded by more disease resistant clones such as ‘Rudolph’ and ‘Evereste’.

Malus ‘Evereste’ – introduced in the early 1980’s this rounded tree has profuse flowers that are red in bud before turning white. The small fruit look like miniature ‘Gala’ and are held on until they are taken by birds after Christmas. The orange-yellow autumn foliage also holds well.

 

 M. ‘John Downie’ – raised in 1875, this is thought by many to be the best fruiting crab. with an irregular oval crown it makes a splendid tree for a small space. White flowers are followed by relatively large, conical-shaped orange-red fruits, which have a food flavour if required for preserves or jelly.

M. x robusta ‘Red Sentinel’– in cultivation since 1959, this profusely fruiting crab is a favourite for gardeners who are looking for winter colour. In some years the clusters of dark red fruits are so numerous that the branches can weigh too heavily so that the crown loses its shape. I have one growing in Old School Garden; it is great alongside other winter interest such as red and orange- stemmed Cornus, and its fruits are useful in Christmas decorations such as front door wreaths. In spring, the red leaves contrast well with its white flowers.

M. x zumi ‘Golden Hornet’ – this well-known crab has been in cultivation for over 60 years and is highly regarded for its profuse display of yellow, marble-sized fruits, which are retained for many weeks. These are preceded by white blossom; a very good ‘all rounder’.

M. ‘Rudolph’ – A Canadian crab developed in the 1950’s, this medium size tree is rather columnar when young, but becomes rounder with maturity. It has leaves which gradually turn from copper-red to bronze-green and rose- pink flowers, which give way to numerous elongated fruits. Autumn leaf colour is clear yellow and it is resistant to scab; a tree which packs a lot of plusses into a small package!

Growing conditions:  Grow Crab apples in moderately fertile soil, though many will thrive on most soils and some are better suited to heavier soils, such as M. sylvestris. They will tolerate partial shade.

Further information:

Wikipedia- Malus

RHS- Malus sylvestris

RHS- Malus ‘Evereste’

RHS- Malus x robusta ‘Red Sentinel’

RHS- Malus x zumi ‘Golden Hornet’

Barcham Trees Directory- Malus ‘Rudolph’

Choosing a Crab apple- Daily Telegraph

Old School Gardener

liquidambar-1440-900Liquidambar is a genus of four species of flowering trees; L. alcalycina; L. formosana; L. orientalis; and L. styraciflua.

Common name:  Common names of all of the species include ‘Sweet Gum’, with additions according to their native regions. Other names include ‘Chang’s Sweetgum’ (L. alcalycina),’Redgum’, ‘Satin Walnut’ and ‘American Storax’. Both the scientific and common names refer to the sweet resinous sap (liquid amber) exuded by the trunk when cut.

Native areas: L. alcalycina is native to central and southern China; L. formosana to China and other parts of S.E. Asia; L. orientalis to south-west Turkey, Greece and Rhodes; L. styraciflua to the eastern USA, Mexico and Honduras.

Historical notes: The genus was much more widespread in the Tertiary age, but has disappeared from Europe due to extensive glaciation in the north and the east-west orientated Alps and Pyrenees, which have served as a blockade against southward migration. It has also disappeared from western North America due to climate change, and also from the unglaciated (but nowadays too cold) Russian far east. L. styraciflua is the most common species used in the U.K. and was introduced from its native USA in the 17th century. It was awarded the RHS ‘Award of Garden Merit’ in 1975.

Features: All Liquidambar are large, deciduous trees, most 25–40 metres (82–131 ft) tall, with palmately 3- to 7-lobed leaves arranged spirally on the stems and length of 12.5 to 20 centimetres (4.9 to 7.9 in), having a pleasant aroma when crushed. Mature bark is grayish and vertically grooved. The flowers are small, produced in a dense globular inflorescence around 1-2 centimetres diameter. The fruit is a woody multiple capsule 2–4 centimetres (0.79–1.57 in) in diameter (popularly called a “gumball”), containing numerous seeds and covered in numerous prickly, woody armatures, possibly to attach to fur of animals. In more northerly climates, sweetgum is among the last of trees to leaf out in the spring, and also among the last of trees to drop its leaves in autumn, turning multiple colors. It is sometimes confused with Maple on account of its similar leaves.

Uses: All of the species provide incredible autumn colour. In the U.K. they are predominately used as specimens – against a fresh green lawn, their foliage colour really stands out – and as woodland trees. L. styraciflua makes a large tree with a pyramidal crown if its central leader is retained. Its attractive, corky bark is a feature at all times of the year, but it is at its most magnificent in the autumn, when it seems to burn with crimson and gold. Suitable for streets, avenues, parks and largish domestic gardens

There are now several cultivars of  L. styraciflua available:

‘Lane Roberts’– reliable in Britain, this is a medium-sized tree (10-15 metres mature height), with a tighter conical habit and larger leaves than the species. Good in groups for mass effect.

‘Manon Variegata’ – a must for those that like variegated trees, the foliage is best in summer, providing excellent contrast against darker leaved, evergreen backgrounds. Medium height (15- 20 metres mature height), it has regular pyramidal form with horizontal lateral branches.

‘Stella’ – with deeply cut, star-like leaves it is of medium height (10-15 metres) and has glorious autumn colour. best in larger gardens.

‘Thea’ – a broad -leaved and late to colour variety, ‘Thea’ grows conically to 15-20 metres tall. Similar to ‘Lane Roberts’ but taller. Distinctive purple foliage in the autumn.

‘Worplesden’ – unlike most other clones, this variety will often bear fruit in the U.K. This is the variety most often favoured for its autumn colour and form, growing to a mature height of 20 metres plus. It has deeply lobed leaves which turn yellow in September and then turn to orange before falling, but the outermost leaves gradually turn to magnificent claret red. The choice for large gardens.

Growing conditions:  L. styraciflua does best in fertile, well-drained soils, and is the hardiest species, tolerating down to -15 degrees C.  The other species can all be grown in the U.K. but vary in hardiness; down to -5 degs C. There are also hardy forms such as the L. formosana Monticola Group, which could be considered for colder areas. Liquidambar should be planted in full sun in neutral to acid soil that is moist but well-drained- it does not thrive in chalky soils. The genus resents transplanting, but if this is unavoidable, prepare by root-pruning a year in advance.

Further information:

Wikipedia- Liquidambar

RHS- Liquidambar styraciflua

Horticulture Week- Liquidambar

Gardener’s World- Liquidambar

Barcham Trees Directory- Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Worplesden’

Old School Gardener

carpinus betulus autumn colourThis is the third in my new series on garden trees. I’ve also done an article about trees and garden design.

Common name: Hornbeam

Native areas: The 30–40 species occur across much of the north temperate regions, including the U.K., with the greatest number of species in east Asia, particularly China. Only two species occur in Europe, and only one in eastern North America. 

Historical notes: Traditionally, the timber of hornbeams has been used to produce mallets, skittles and even the moving parts of pianos! The common English name of “hornbeam” derives from the hardness of the wood (likened to ‘horn’) and the Old English ‘beam’, a tree (similar to the German for tree, “Baum”).

Pleached trees- picture RHS
Pleached trees- picture RHS

Features: A large, deciduous tree (growing to 20 metres plus), with a grey-fluted trunk and spreading canopy. It has ovate, ribbed and serrated edge leaves that turn a beautiful clear yellow in autumn. The flowers are wind-pollinated pendulous catkins, produced in spring. The male and female flowers are on separate catkins, but on the same tree (i.e it is monoecious). The fruit is a small nut about 3–6 mm long, held in a leafy bract; the bract may be either trilobed or a simple oval, and is slightly asymmetrical.

Uses:  Wonderful in a parkland setting, grown in groups, it also ideal for pleaching (i.e. training into a ‘hedge on stilts’) and for use along the edges of smaller gardens – just like here at Old School Garden. Received the Award of Garden Merit from the RHS in 2002.  Some of the cultivars are suitable for smaller gardens as their growth habit is more columnar.

Some of the cultivars available include:

‘Fastigiata’– a tree of medium size (10-15 metres in height) and with a pyramidal habit, slender in its youth. Suitable for smaller areas despite developing ‘middle age spread’ (it can grow out to  1o metres wide). Very effective if left feathered at the base to encourage gold and orange autumn leaf colour. Stiffly ascending branches give it a columnar shape, resembling Lombardy Poplar.

‘Fastigiata Frans Fontaine’- selected from a street in the Netherlands in the 1980’s this retains its columnar habit better than the ordinary ‘Fastigiata’ variety (3 metres wide after 25 years) so is even better suited to restricted areas.

‘Purpurea’-  medium height (10-15 metres), introduced in the 1870’s , this is well suited to arboretums and plant collections. Young leaves flush with a purple tinge and then gradually turn deep green and them a similar yellow to the species hornbeam in  autumn. Slower growing and ultimately smaller than the species tree. Well suited to heavier soils.

”Japonica’-  (Japanese hornbeam), introduced from Japan in 1895, a small (5-10 metres tall), rounded tree, very effective if pleached. Darker than the species tree, with heavily corrugated leaves, darker than the species tree. Attractive, prolific hop-like fruit. AGM in 2002

Growing conditions: hornbeams grow well in most soils, including clay and chalk and is useful for planting where there are poor planting conditions.

 Further information:

Wikipedia

RHS- Carpinus betulus

RHS- pleaching

Barcham trees directory

Old School Gardener

mature betula pendula bartram treesThis is the second in my new series on garden trees. I’ll shortly be doing one or two articles about trees and garden design, in my series ‘Design my garden’, so keep an eye out.

Common name: Silver Birch

Native areas: Europe, though in southern Europe it is only found at higher altitudes

Historical notes: Also known as the ‘Lady of the woods’ because of its slender and graceful appearance. Especially popular in the UK. Grown as an ornamental plant and also for its timber. It is used for a range of purposes, from broom-making and steeple-chase fencing to medicines.

Features: A medium tree (15- 20 metres tall), with a conical, semi weeping habit, with white bark and horizontal lines and large diamond -shaped cracks which form as the tree matures. Leaves ovate, yellow in autumn. Flowers in catkins. Can be grown either as a single or multi-stemmed tree.

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Uses: Very good as a multi-stemmed tree for exposed or elevated positions as they have a low centre of gravity. These look good in small groups in informal settings. I have a few that contribute to a mixed ‘woodland edge’  here at Old School Garden, providing a natural boundary to the garden. It can also be used as a specimen, though some of the cultivars available perhaps provide more interesting features than the species plant:

‘Dalecarlica’ (Swedish Birch, syn. ‘Laciniata’ or ‘Crispa’)- deeply cut leaves which weep gracefully, white peeling bark

‘Fastigiata’- stiffly ascending branches give it a columnar shape, resembling Lombardy Poplar

‘Purpurea’ slow growing and rare, with new, dark purple leaves,softening t o dark green/purple by summer.

‘Tristis’- tall (15-20 metres), weeping birch, with beautiful winter structure.

‘Youngii’- similar habit to ‘Tristis’ but shorter (5-10 metres) and so more suitable for smaller gardens, especially good as a specimen  in lawns.

‘Zwisters Glory’- from Switzerland, this new variety has gleaming white bark, so makes a good avenue tree and a good choice for urban areas and is quick growing.

Two other species of birch are also worth mentioning:

Betula pubescens- ‘Common White Birch’, prefers damper conditions than B. pendula, also it’s more hardy. It’s ascending branches give it a more solid appearance than B. pendula.

Betula utilis ‘Jacquemontii’/ ‘Doorenbos’-a medium tree with ascending branches, most admired for its almost pure white bark, looking very effective against a dark background.

Growing conditions: grows well in most soils and is good for parks and woodland, but is not suitable for areas which have soil that becomes compacted. Difficult to transfer as a bare rooted specimen, but containerised plants are more successful.

Further information:

Wikipedia

RHS

Barcham trees directory

Silver Birch among others in the snow at Old School Garden, January 2013
Silver Birch among others in the snow at Old School Garden, January 2013

Old School Gardener

acer campestre by wendy cutler

Acer campestre Autumn colour by Wendy Cutler

Welcome to my new ‘A-Z’ series on Garden Trees. My recently concluded series on perennials proved to be very popular so I hope that this will be equally appealing to my blog readers and followers. I plan to give a few brief facts on 26 trees that are suitable for gardens, together with a picture or two and how they might be used in the garden. My companion collection of articles called ‘Design my Garden’ will feature a few articles about the different design uses of trees in parallel with this new series.

I will be using various sources for the articles, but much will come from the very useful catalogues of Barcham Trees,a specialist tree nursery in Cambridgeshire I had the pleasure of visiting a couple of years go. So, here we go…..

Common name: Field Maple

Native areas: England

Historical notes: used for making musical instruments in the Middle Ages.

Features: small to medium height tree (10-15 metres) with rounded for. Leaves with 5 blunt lobes, turning varied tints of yellow, golden brown and red in the autumn.  Flowers small, green, forming typical winged maple fruitsCan be grown as a single or multi-stem tree.

Uses: a tree for woodland settings or used in small groups in large open gardens and landscapes especially valuable for its autumn colour; also useful in hedgerows (it is very wildlife friendly and will tolerate rough pruning in winter to keep its shape). Various clones of Acer campestre are well suited to streetscapes and urban settings as they have a more regular shaped crown than the parent.

Growing conditions: grows best in rich, well-drained soils, but will do well in most soil types and is tolerant of drought, soil compaction and air pollution.

Further information:

Wikipedia

RHS

Barcham trees directory

Old School Gardener

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