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.
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.
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.
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.