Trees offer a wealth of benefits in the garden: shade, fruit, autumn colour, fragrance, flowers, height and structure. Their value to wildlife and the environment is well documented, but research shows that trees are good for our health and wellbeing too – in fact, studies have found that hospital patients with a view of trees heal more quickly and need less pain relief.
In short, every garden, however small, should have at least one tree. Many people, particularly those with limited outside space, may believe they don’t have room for one, but with so many thousands of garden trees to choose from, in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, there truly is a tree to suit every garden.
Autumn is the ideal time to think about planting trees, and a wonderful time of year to visit gardens to see the foliage taking on its seasonal tints. If you are not sure which trees might work well in your own garden, try visiting a garden with similar conditions to yours to see what grows well there.
The science of autumn colour
The turning of leaf colour in autumn is an event many people around the world look forward to. In the US, it’s big business, with the ‘leafpeeping’ season estimated to be worth around $1 billion dollars to the tourism industry in the state of Wisconsin.
The scientific term for leaves turning and falling in autumn is leaf senescence. As light levels fall from late summer, chlorophyll in leaves is slowly broken down and absorbed by the plant to prepare for regrowth the next spring. The green colour chlorophyll provides is replaced by the orange and yellow pigments of carotenoids and flavonoids – carotenoids also give carrots their colour. In trees that turn red, the colour change is triggered by the increased production of anthocyanin, where sugars have become concentrated in the leaves.
For the most impressive autumnal display, the weather conditions must be just right. A good mix of sun and rain during the growing season followed by a warm, dry autumn with cool but frost-free nights is what’s required, meaning that this year autumn could be memorable for tree colour in some parts of the country.
CHOOSING A TREE
It goes without saying that there are several important things to consider when selecting the right tree for your space, but the fundamental principles are the same as for any garden plant:
Choose a good-quality specimen; plant it correctly; give it the proper care to help it establish.
For trees specifically, it is crucial to choose a species suited to the conditions in your garden, such as soil type and exposure. You should also consider what the expected height and spread will be – take care not to choose a tree that will quickly outgrow the available space.
When buying a tree from a nursery, look for a balanced branch system, a well-healed union if your tree has been grafted (many fruit trees, for example, are grown this way), and an undamaged trunk. Take a look at the root system and avoid any with overgrown, circling roots or where the roots are protruding through the bottom of the container. These may have become too constricted in their pots and may not establish so well in your garden.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Coping With...Feeling Dizzy
Dizziness is a common symptom that usually settles on its own and is rarely serious, says Dr Gill Jenkins
Let's Get Gardening
All the news and best buys hand-picked for you
8 Cancer Signs You Might Be Missing
A lump, unexplained pain or weight loss are changes we associate with cancer, but there are more subtle ones
Recipes For Your Fruit
Plums are such wonderfully diverse ingredients – they can be used in cakes, chutneys or even savoury dishes
The garden at NIGHT
If you’re in the dark about the lighting in your garden, now’s the chance to let it truly sparkle
TOP 10 Autumn hips and berries
Hips and berries can elevate the October garden with their gem-like colours
RHS Chief Horticulturist Guy Barter shares his how-to on perfecting plum growing
Trees can bring structure, shade and fabulous colour to a garden, particularly through the autumn
With so many stunning varieties to choose from, acers are among the most beautiful trees for small gardens, says Adrienne Wild
From early summer to late autumn, shrubby salvias will sparkle like jewels
OMICRON UNRAVELS TRAVEL INDUSTRY'S PLANS FOR A COMEBACK
Tourism businesses that were just finding their footing after nearly two years of devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic are being rattled again as countries throw up new barriers to travel in an effort to contain the omicron variant.
Green and Growing
Warsaw energizes with a vibrant startup economy.
PRESCRIPTION FOR 2022 - These Health Care Stocks Should Thrive
Pharmaceutical and health sciences firms are riding powerful demographic trends amid a golden age of innovation.
Don’t let their confidence fool you: Xi, Putin, and other authoritarians are increasingly vulnerable at home
2021: The Year in Review
LIMITLESS BODY BUILDING
We're Not There Yet
To end the pandemic, we need more vaccinations—not just new pills
Unvaccinated? Time to Make an End-of-Life Plan
A good idea for anyone, advanced directives are especially important if you’re willing to risk a potentially fatal illness
Worth a Shot
Doctors and health experts strongly back COVID vaccination for kids. PARENTS aren’t so sure
Sharing a Common Goal
Why Puerto Rico is the most vaccinated place in America
How to create a nourishing self-care routine that can help you feel calmer, more centered, and better able to face the challenges of the world around you.