Trees: The answer to Global Warming?
When I was a lad they used to say that every man should plant a tree to make up for all the carbon dioxide that he breathed out. Not everyone had a car then, but the principal still holds. Just as every carbon emission makes a small difference, so every tree or shrub in your garden absorbs carbon dioxide.
Everyone seems to want a big tree in their garden and the magic bit is plant a young sapling and before you know it you will have a big tree. If you buy a big tree straight away it will struggle to grow and sometimes never really get going.
My favourite native trees that don’t grow too big are Rowan and Silver Birch. The Rowan has clusters of white flowers in the spring and masses of red berries for the birds in the autumn. The Birch has that beautiful white bark all year round also the fine twiggy growth is very good for screening, particularly when planted in groups. The other benefit with these trees is that they grow really quickly, sucking up masses of carbon dioxide and storing it safely away.
There are many different ornamental trees: The Flowering Cherries are so spectacular. But ones with coloured leaves really earn their keep, Red Maples, Robinia Frisia: with its bright yellow leaves, Prunus Nigra: the red plum with pink flowers on the bare stems in early spring followed by red leaves all summer. The most under rated tree is the Amelanchier: with coppery young leaves, white flowers followed by red berries and yellow leaves in the autumn. What more could it do? Although strictly speaking it is a shrub that grows 15 feet tall and looks like a tree.
If you have a big garden indulge yourself. But always remember the famous words of Capability Brown the famous 18th century garden designer to the nobility: ‘No matter how small your garden you should always put at least an acre down to woodland.’
Now is the most tricky time for deciduous plants. They have to decide when it is warm enough to leaf up. New leaves are quite tender and a sharp frost can freeze them off.
Our native plants have evolved in our tricky climate and can take what is thrown at them. If their first leaves get frosted they just produce another set.
Ornamental Acers only get one chance as they are unable to produce a second leaf, if they loose the first one. The most susceptible are the Japanese Maples so try to position them in a protected situation.
The more exotic the plant, the more care is needed in finding a spot for it. I always feel sad to see a Magnolia covered in frosted flowers, or a Pieris Forest Flame with brown crispy new growth. Both can look glorious if positioned carefully in a sheltered spot. Out of the morning sun helps, so that they can warm up slowly after a cold night. They both will survive in a chilly spot but their beauty is often wasted.
Other plants have a different strategy for coping with late frosts. Robinia Frisia with its bright golden leaves is always the last tree to come into leaf each Spring so missing late frosts. I can only assume that those delicate leaves would not stand the cold, but short of digging it up and putting it in the freezer I will never know.
Then there are the annuals, they have to be planted out after the last frost. So the seeds must be sown soon so that they are ready for planting out in May. It is much better to be late than early. A late planting often catches up with an early one very quickly, often overtaking it if the early one gets a setback.
Therefore if you have a chilly spot where nothing seems to thrive, the best advice is to ‘go native’.
Don Morgan Morgans Nursery
Stonehouse Lane, Bulkeley
Nr. Malpas, Cheshire, SY14 8BQ
Tel. 01829 720514
Web Site: www.hedgeit.co.uk