Trees for Life

How many people have followed the recent trends of the Outdoor room? Placing paving, decking and chippings where there used to be garden. No room for plants….or is there? Barbecues and outdoor patio heaters and furniture seem to dominate the modern (outdoor space).

Well, take a moment to look at what the Japanese have been doing for years and adapt it to the Great British way. Bonsai is the art of growing miniature trees in a very small space. A fully grown Pine may be ancient but is only a few feet across. If you adapt this to our modern Gardens there is a compromise between Bonsai and true tree, that is much larger and which does make a truthful contribution to the environment, but in a small space.

The rain forests of the world decide and rule the weather. Like it or not they do breathe for the planet. We can help the world to breathe by growing a tree even if it is in a restricted area. Every little helps.

What trees will do this? Well the answer is that any of them will survive given the correct growing environment.

Ok, you cannot grow a giant redwood tree and expect it to reach 100 feet in a pot but you can still grow one in miniature.

Modern growers of trees have realised that we need to be growing smaller trees for the modern garden and they are being grafted onto slower growing roots (known as dwarf rootstocks). Ornamental cherries are being grafted onto rootstocks that dwarf the tree together with stems that keep the plants at no more than 3 feet high. But the flowers are the same size and the impact is as spectacular.

Leaving those alone it is possible with a half barrel as a container to produce a reasonable tree of any type and shape in a miniature form that will breathe for many years in your garden and will give an annual reward to the owner. My choice is the Amelanchier. It is a North American tree that grows well in this country. There are 3 main features. It has snowy white flowers in spring. (Hence the name Snowy Mespilus) followed by red berries in summer, earlier than most, and it has really amazing autumn colour as the leaves fall. It is a perfect candidate for the containerised tree and will grow as a bonsai type tree year on year. If you want a tree that will give you something to eat then don’t forget the fruit trees that are suitable to pot culture also. You need expert advice on what will grow as a decent tree in a half barrel for a long period of time so first of all find your expert.(you know where to find us) Then buy your tree and contribute to the environment and reap the rewards of a beautiful feature.


I grow a lot of different fruit bushes and trees but I want to know if I can grow cranberries as they seem not to be readily grown in the U.K?


Yes you can. They are ericaceous plants that belong to the heather family, needing acid soil or acid loving plant fertiliser such as miracle grow ericaceous food. They require a wet site and are great if used as ground cover. There is no need to buy male plants and female plants as they are self fertile and the flowers are produced late spring and the cranberries are produced in autumn if you follow the instructions. They are also suitable for pot growing and three planted in a 12 inch pot (30cm) will be fun to watch mature.

Things to do in March

  • Well don’t forget the birds they love to be fed as seeds are scarce and berries have all but disappeared.
  • Lawns need feeding and you can use a combined weed, feed and moss killer.
  • Plant hanging baskets in the greenhouse.
  • Put plant supports in place near perennials to prevent them from flopping.
  • Shrubs in pots and trees in pots need feeding. High nitrogen if plants are pot bound or a slow release such as Miracle Grow Osmocote.
  • Continue to feed roses and spray against black spot and mildew.
  • Plant cucumbers and tomatoes etc in the greenhouse.
  • Sow early crops on the allotment.
  • Dahlia tubers should be started if not yet already done.
  • Last chance to plant summer bulbs.

Plant of the month

This month the plant has to be the vibrant Senetti which is a fairly new plant to gardens. It is closely related to the well known Cineraria which was often grown as a cool conservatory plant but these new plants are very tough and are garden hardy down to freezing point.

There are 4 main colours available so far with a vibrant blue one, a purple, a bluish purple and a pink and white combination flower. New colours will emerge no doubt as this plant is becoming a very welcome and popular addition to the spring range of early bedding.

If you cut them back after the first flush of flowers they will often re-flush and in very sheltered gardens they may even survive until next year.

They are best suited to pot growing and give height as they can reach up to about 18 inches. A multi-purpose compost is recommended and protect from temperatures below freezing point as they may get burnt.

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