Suitable trees for small strata complex

Discussion in 'Small Space Gardening' started by Daniel Mosquin, Jan 23, 2003.

  1. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    The following was received via email:

    Could you recommend suitable trees for a small strata complex with very small lawns.

    At the moment there are London Plane trees planted by the builder, which will be cut down in the next few months.
     
  2. HortLine

    HortLine Active Member 10 Years

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    You'll be happy to know that there are, readily available at local nurseries,a good number of small trees that would be suitable for small city garden. The main consideration will be the size of the plant at maturity, but other considerations will influence your choice a great deal.

    Pest and disease free trees will ultimately be more worthwhile and in the longrun less expensive.

    The growth habit is a variable of utmost importance - all trees have a genetic shape as it were, and hence by selecting the right plant for the right place one can avoid pruning while having a beautifully shaped tree naturely.

    Styrax Japonica is a very beautiful small tree that is considered
    by many to be the perfect patio tree.
    In June, the tree blooms with bell-shaped blossoms hanging along the bottom side of the branches. This tree is best seen from below. It is also late to leaf out in Spring making an underplanting of spring bulbs a lovely possibilty.

    Trees also allow one to control the amount of light in and around buildings. By selecting a tree with a high
    canopy and transparent leaves the garden will be flooded with dappled light from Spring to Fall. Other plants will happily grow in this situation.

    Robinia pseudoacacia 'Frisia' or the black locust is an outsanding and decorative tree without equal for admitting plenty of light to the garden. Although it will grow quite tall, and is not small, the impact on ground level is minimal.


    A tree that is being used more frequently these days in landscaping small spaces is the Nothofagus antarctica (antarctic beech). The tree presents a filigree pattern of twisted branches and small leaves( 3cm or 1 1/4 inches long) that is both picturesque and unusual. This tree will
    also allow the garden space to appear light and airy. Technically it is not a small tree, however it is has it's uses in small spaces.

    Some trees grow very slowly and although they may utimately be large, it will take them n excess of 50 years to achieve their ultimate height. In other words, they will be small for a very long time. One such tree is the Ginko biloba or Maidenhair tree; it has small leaves shaped like fansin a lovely shade of yellow-green and in addition has only a few main branches so light gets through to the understory plants.

    Oxydendron arboreum, the Sorrel tree or sourwood tree, is a columnar tree that also grows very slowly. It's eventual shape is an unpside down triangle. It likes to grow in a protected sunny and open situation. For Autumn colour there cannot be many trees to rival it's display. The tree is a delight to behold.

    Others: Magnolia species. Japanese Maples especially Acer palmatum sano-kaku or senkaki , Cercis canadensis, Arbutus unedo (strawberry tree)

    Good luck!
     
  3. billstephen

    billstephen Member

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    small trees for strata

    There are plenty of small maturing trees, soe of which were mentioned in another posting (Styrax japonica, Japanese maple (Acer japonica or A. palmatum), Cercis canadensis). These three are all quite interesting and might do well for you.

    Among the Hawthorns, I recommend Crataegus lavallei or Crataegus phaenopyrum. Both are desease resistent and quit hardy. Be carfeful with flowering cherries, they can develop a very agressive root system. They are good for where you have a large growing area but do not want a tall tree. I suggest the Yohino Cherry as a readily available disease resistent tree, though there are many others.

    The paperbark maple (Acer griseum) is a unique looking tree that stays quite small. It has distinctive orangish bark that naturally peels back upon itself , somewhat like Paper Birch.

    A cultivar of Norway maple (Acer platanoided) called 'Globosum' stays quite short , less than 5 M, but gets significantly wider. It is a very formal looking tree, not a natural shape, but it could work well in highly cultivated spaces.

    The Camperdown Elm is an especially interesting tree that top out at 5 M, and it can live many decades. Hard to find but for a place of special interest it may be worht the trouble.

    Scab resistent Crabapples are available in all shapes and flower colours, though you won't get more than 40 years from most of them.
     
  4. Joan

    Joan Active Member

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    I would add Stewartia sp. to the list. Stewartia have so many virtues..size small, to about 20 feet in as many years, beautiful shape with elegant branching, late spring flowers and fine autumn colours. As a bonus, the bark has many interesting shades.
    Another fovourite of mine is Nyssa sylvatica, which has a flatter top and truly spectacular fall colour.
    For smaller areas, Hammamalis, the witch hazel, grow easily to small tree proportions in the Lower mainland and give excellentle winter interest.
     
  5. Small Trees

    Two other elegant small trees are the Franklinia and the Black Haw Viburnum. The first was originally a native of SE Georgia but is grown in zone 5b. It is slow growing with exquisite camelia-like flowers in Sept.-Oct. that smell refreshingly, not cloyingly sweet. Its fall color is shockingly, evenly carmine red. The prunus-like leaves are long, glossy, and bright green the rest of the year.

    The Black Haw (Viburnum Prunifolium L.) can be a very large shrub or a small tree also with similarly shaped leaves. It has white flower heads about 4" across followed by drupes of whitish-pink turning to deep blue-black as they ripen. Cedar waxwings and other birds frequently eat the seeds in each berry. No pests, but you have to patiently trim it for shape, and two specimens are better for a dense show of flowers and berries (cross-pollination). Fall color is superb with reds and purples.

    The styrax Japonica also comes in a pink cultivar but it is less hardy than the white one. Some sources say Zone 6, others Zone 7.
     
  6. DianneBond

    DianneBond Member

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    Wow! What a wonderful thread this is! I don't know much about trees, but all the internet images I have seen of the ones being suggested here look great!

    We used to have birch and pine, which were very nice, but people who wanted views from in the upper units thought they were too big, they were topped in the worst possible ways and not taken care of, and after 18 years almost all have been cut down.

    I'm interest in finding trees for a southern slope in Coquitlam with roots to fit in about 8-12 feet of dirt that won't break pipes, something that can grow fast enough, or survive transplanting at a large enough size, to screen windows at 16 feet and then stop so as not to block a view at 24 feet. Something trouble free that lets dappled light in and is available in very large quantities (more than 100 trees). Something that bushes and ground cover can grow under.

    Once we get suitable plants, I think our strata will need a landscape manual of dos and don'ts and estimated costs. A maintenance guide and arborist will probably need to be enshrined in the strata bylaws because it is too easy to quietly divert funds from landscaping budgets into other spending, not realizing the plants are dying until it costs too much to save them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2007
  7. hortfreak

    hortfreak Active Member Maple Society

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    Norway maples of any description would not be suitable. The roots are a nightmare. I believe the suggested planting distance from buildings is currently 100' minimum. It is also an invasive tree by virtue of the literally thousands of keys, all of which seem to germinate.

    The genus Amelanchier has some very nice species that you might want to consider. The added bonus is the flowering aspect. I would second the thought on Acer griseum. The bark alone is worth buying one for. Stewartia is beautiful but perhaps a bit too fussy for your purposes. Styrax is very beautiful in flower. Cercis is another good genus with some great cultivars. C. canadensis is hard to beat as it generally flowers before or just as the leaves are unfolding. I have never actually seen a western redbud in flower, but I am sure it is just as beautiful.

    There are so many small trees available now. You should have no trouble finding something to suit your purposes.
     
  8. DianneBond

    DianneBond Member

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    Thank you so much. All of these suggestions make it so much easier to make informed decisions.
     

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