My favourite tree’s part 2

Crab Apple Tree (Malus sylvestris)

The Crab Apple is one of the most popular trees in the UK and is the original British Apple Tree. It produces the perfect fruit for cooking for pies, jams or jellies and is even an ingredient in many British wines.

This tree offers a wonderful habitat for a wide range of wildlife and with its beautiful white blossom is well loved in many gardens, orchards and across the British countryside.

Though it can grow to an average of 9 metres when left unpruned, it can also be cut back well to use as an interesting feature in a traditional hedgerow.

Elder Tree (Sambucus nigra)

Due to the ability of this tree to reproduce with great speed, especially in high nitrogen soil, the Elder tree is often considered a weed. However the sweet smelling white flowers produced in the spring and bright berries in the autumn can provide a splash of colour and make a great asset to any horticultural feature.

Commonly found in natural woodlands and hedgerows, the Elder tree has natural repellent properties that can deter flies while the berries are a very popular source of Vitamin C and are often used in wines, jams and cordials.

As a small ornamental deciduous tree, the Elder can grow up to 9 meters high but due to its rapid growth rate may leave gaps if used in the initial development of a new hedge when supporting plantation does not grow as quickly.

Elm Tree

Though many varieties of Elm Tree are at home on British soil, it is only the Wych Elm (Ulmus glabra) that is native to the UK.

As this tree ages the deep grooves that appear in the dark brown or grey bark create further interest to this tree as well as habitats for a range of local wildlife.

Though considered a non-suckering variety of Elm, this tree will produce suckers when under stress and is sadly prone to the Dutch Elm disease which nearly completely eradicated the Elm from British soil. Look for varieties such as the Lacebark Elm which are now resistant to the disease for a greater possibility of success.


Hawthorn Tree (Crataegus monogyna)

Also known as the Quickthorn or May due to its close association with May Day celebrations, the Hawthorn tree can grow up to 14 meters high and ideal as a protective barrier against animals, people and pests.

This deciduous tree is an ideal habitat for numerous forms of wildlife including many British birds that take advantage of the protection that this thorned tree offers while feasting on the delicious red fruit provided in the autumn.

Thanks to its early white flowers, the Hawthorn has come to symbolise the imminent arrival of summer and is probably Britain’s most common hedgerow shrub while the berries, known as Haws, are still commonly used to make jellies and wine.

beechtreeHazel Tree (Corylus avellana)

Native to the UK, the Hazel Tree prefers chalk, limestone or mildly acidic soils and rarely grow above 15 meters.

Widely grown for its timber which can be used in basketwork as well as being the traditional material to create hurdles, the nuts from the Hazel tree are very tasty and attract many forms of wildlife.

The Hazel Tree is ideal for making semi permanent barriers that use a combination of harvested rods and living trees or can be combined with hawthorns to create a denser blockade. One single rod of Hazel tree can be continually coppiced to produce new shoots so that an even further density can be obtained.

Holly Tree (Ilex aquifolium)

As one of the only evergreen trees or shrubs native to Britain, the Holly tree can be grown in even the harshest of environments where other plant life is unable to thrive, just as long as it is not too wet!

Characterised by lush red berries that attract a variety of birds, this plant is incredibly versatile. Growing up to 20 meters tall, it can be cultured into an ornamental tree, is ideal to create a strong, dense hedge on its own or can be incorporated into a traditional hedgerow with dramatic effect but as the plants themselves are single sex, you do need a mixture of males and females to produce the winter fruit.

Larch Tree

The European Larch Tree (Larix decidua) is part of the deciduous conifer family that are very popular in Britain but are not actually native to the UK. With a tolerance for polluted air, the Larch can reach heights of over 45 meters and can be forced to grow quickly however can become prone to spring frosts when this happens.

Commonly seen in gardens and parks, this trees popularity stems from the colour spectacle provided throughout the year starting with a display of bright green foliage in spring which darkens in the summer before creating a beautiful golden brown canopy during the Autumnal months.


Oak Tree

There are two species of naturally deciduous Oak Tree native to Great Britain: the English Oak (Quercus robur) that prefers the heavier clay and loam soil of the south and the Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea) which is more dominant in the lighter soils of north and west.

Often called the ‘King of the Woods’ some Oak trees have live for over 1000 years and are one of the most common and instantly recognisable trees in the UK.

The naturally strong timber of this tree is ideal in furniture production but also provides essential habitats for a wide variety of wildlife while the acorns are used in the feed of many livestock.

In addition to our native varieties, both the Turkey Oak (Quercus cerris) and the evergreen Holm Oak (Quercus ilex) are also widely seen in Britain and are now as prolific as their native cousins.

Rowan Trees (Sorbus aucuparia)

The European Rowan or Mountain Ash is the only Rowan native to Great Britain however related varieties including the Common Whitebeam (Sorbus aria) and the Service Tree (Sorbus domestica) happily grow in our climate.

A deciduous tree with an almost shrubby appearance, the Rowan is ideal for gardens, schools and streets as it naturally grows no more than 9 meters high and can withstand frost more than most other trees.

With beautiful white flowers in late spring, the abundance of bright red berries in autumn provide the main attraction and are still used in parts of Scotland to create national wines, jams and sauces.

Silver Birch Tree (Betula pendula)

The Silver Birch is the most common and most beautiful of Birch trees. Native to Europe and North Asia, this is the national tree of Finland and has distinctive silver bark and tooth edged leaves that create a highly attractive specimen.

Reaching a maximum of 20 meters in its relatively short ten year life span, the Silver Birch attracts a varied form of wildlife thanks to the shelter and food it can offer.

Most at home in wet, boggy ground, this tree will not block sunlight from the garden and is ideal as a decorative canopy to any ground level display.

Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris)

The Scots Pine is the only one of this group of evergreen conifers that is native to the British Isles, though related varieties including the Corsican Pine (Pinus nigra var. maritima) are equally at home here.

Able to achieve heights of 36 meters in its 250 year life span, this variety is distinguished by the pinky colour at the top of the bark and paired needles that are usually twisted and shorter than other varieties.

Pines are an essential element to sustaining our environment as they provide some of the last remaining habitats for the endangered red squirrel however are becoming much rarer as the demand for its timber increases.

Willow Tree

When most people think of the Willow Tree they think of the Weeping Willow (Salix chrysochoma) with its long pendulous branches that sweep down into the water. However all species of Willow are not alike and though some do enjoy water logged environments such as the Crack Willow (Salix fragilis) and the Bay Willow (Salix pentandra), other varieties including the Pussy Willow (Salix caprea) prefer moist but well drained soil.

In general, willows are quick growing trees that produce soft catkins commonly used in the flower arrangements and indoor decorations. They are incredibly useful in gardens and arboretums due to the draw of their flowers to the common bee while though their long and hardy root structure can cause issues in smaller areas; they can also be invaluable in protecting eroded soils from further destruction.

Some of my favourite trees

Aspen Tree (Populus tremula)

Most famously known to supply the wood used for the Cross of Jesus Christ, the Aspen has been nicknamed the quivering tree thanks to its leaves that can be heard rustling in the wind.

Completely deciduous, this tree is hardy enough to tolerate a varied range of weathers and, though it grows relatively quickly, can only reach heights of approximately 30 metres.

Found most commonly in woodlands and wasteland, the Aspen is often planted as a garden tree due to it attractive pale slender trunk, bold green leaves that turn golden in the Autumn and white catkins that develop in the spring however it does continuously produce suckers in an attempt to spread.


Alder Tree

The Common Alder (Alnus glutinosa) is a hardy tree resistant to rot that enjoys wet low lying areas next to riverbanks and in areas of high waterfall unlike the Grey Alder (Alnus incana) which is more commonly used in gardens and cannot tolerate being waterlogged, though still thrives in moist ground.

Though the Grey Alder can grow up to 80ft tall it produces a range of elegant catkins at the beginning of spring and emits nodules on the roots containing nitrogen fixing bacteria that make it idea for the reclamation of industrial ground and enriching poor soil.

Ash Tree

Native to Britain and many parts of Europe, the Common Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) is a deciduous tree that provides very pliable but strong wood making it ideal for hockey sticks, tennis rackets and bows.

Both the Common Ash and the Weeping Ash (F. excelsior ‘Pendula’) enjoy moist lime rich soil and are commonly found on riverbanks or in moist woods as well as a lot of old grave yards.

The Ash is one of the last trees to leaf in spring yet it is also one of the earliest to lose its leaves in the autumn. Growing to heights of up to 40 meters, the beautiful purple flowers produced in spring create a stunning effect, yet the tree is most famous for the ‘helicopters’ or winged seeds that flutter down in the autumn.

Blackthorn Tree (Prunus spinosa)

Also known as the Sloe, the Blackthorn Tree is traditionally the first deciduous tree of the year to come into bloom and produces the distinctive sloe berry which is used to create the flavour of sloe gin. The thorns created by this tree can be effectively used as a natural barrier to against unwanted pests or as a protective shelter for birds wishing to nest.

In the spring, the blackthorn produces eye catching white flowers and can grow into a tree up to 6 meters tall but can also be an effective wind break or hedge with a hardy constitution that will thrive in a range of environments, though always favouring chalky soil in a sunny position when possible.

Beech Tree (Fagus sylvatica)

Though the Common Beech tree is found all over Europe and Britain, it has been discovered that it is not actually native to this country as was previously thought.

With an average life span of nearly 250 years this deciduous tree and can grow up to 45 metres high.

Though possibly too tall for a single tree in a garden, the Beech can be trimmed closely making it ideal for a hedge or as an individual feature in a larger area where the beautifully smooth silvery bark and wavy edged leaves are instantly recognisable.

Successfully thriving on both chalk downs and acidic soils, the Beech has great skill in finding water; however it is prone to a large variety of fungi, pests and diseases which can cause mature trees to die quickly.


Cherry Tree

The Bird Cherry (Prunus padus) and Wild Cherry (Prunus avium) are the only varieties of Cherry Tree that are native to Britain and produce a white blossom, in contrast to the pink flowered varieties that are derived from cultivated species.

Though the fruits of both varieties of the tree are attractive to birds, it is only the cultivated species of the Wild Cherry that provide recognisably edible fruit while fruit from the native tree are used to create cough mixtures and syrups while Bird Cherry fruit is only digestible by the birds themselves.