Spring is the time when gardening becomes once more of interest to everyone who has any interest in gardening and any size of plot, from a window box to stately acres. In most gardens structure is formed using hard landscaping, trees, and shrubs, but they are much more than just shapes. Trees make a functional and beautiful contribution to many gardens. It is vital to take time in selecting the right size and shape of the spring tree and to think through what exactly you want from it. Not easily moved once established, never has the consideration of “right plant, right place” been more important in gardening than with trees! Many trees in spring, most famously fruit trees, cheer our hearts with their pink or white abundance of blossom. In fact, the vast majority of flowering and fruiting trees bear their flowers in spring.
Magnolias are spectacular trees and shrubs which look absolutely stunning when in full bloom. Gardening is so rewarding when you can see such a wonderful sight and know that you planted that beautiful thing, that you are responsible for its site, and the marvelous contribution it makes to your spring display. Even in the smaller garden, Magnolias can be grown, notably Magnolia Stellata. Most Magnolias are happy in most soils, with the proviso that they are rich in humus, although some cultivars prefer lime-free conditions. Generally in gardening terms, they are slow-growing but very beautiful when fully mature.
Various Prunus varieties are wonderful trees for the spring garden. To mention but one, Prunus Avium “Plena” reaches an eventual height of 50 ft., it is hardy, prefers full sun, and is a deciduous spreading tree. Its bark has a reddish tinge and it produces masses and masses of the purest white flowers in spring. Its leaves are dark green but turn red in the fall before they, well, fall. A smaller Prunus is Prunus “Shogetsu” with pink buds opening in late spring to form big double white flowers hanging in clusters. The green leaves turn orange and red in the fall. Gardening with spring trees and shrubs tends to bring interest in seasons other than spring, as spring flowers herald fruits and deciduous plants tend to have pretty autumnal shades.
Viburnum plicatum “Pink Beauty” is a lovely shrub for its spring flowers. Its blooms are white turning later to pink, then red (turning to black) fruits appear. Its eventual height is about five feet, and it is fully hardy. Gardening enthusiasts will be familiar with Ribes Sanguineum with its bright green aromatic leaves and deep pinky red flowers are borne in spring. Some people don’t like the scent too much. Acer Palmatum “Corallinum” is a deciduous shrub that is very slow-growing to an eventual height of five feet. Its young spring leaves are lobed and bright reddish-pink, turning green for summer and bright red, orange or yellow in autumn. Truly a shrub for all seasons (well, except winter I suppose, being deciduous). Amelanchier Laevis is a famous tree suitable for small gardens and with virtually all-around gardening interest. I include it here because of its gorgeous sprays of white flowers in spring. It has bronze spring leaves which turn dark green in summer followed by round, lush red fruits, and lovely autumnal foliage. Great in spring, but truly a tree for gardening through the seasons.
Spring is a wonderful time of year for gardening and while you are out there planting your bedding, do look around you and use your nose to smell the scent of the apple blossom and the gorgeous cherry blossoms. They are not around for very long so while you are doing the gardening, just take at least a few moments to contemplate the beauty of your spring trees and shrubs.