(excluding conifers) The following lists are by no means exhaustive. Nurserymen’s lists will contain other genera and many other cultivars. This is simply a selection of small or medium-sized trees for general garden use that are usually widely available. Some of them have received the Society’s Award of Garden Merit in recognition of their good garden qualities. Ultimate height and dimensions may be influenced by soil type and situation, but the categories Small, Medium and Large have been included to give some indication of their eventual likely size under average conditions.
Key: S = Small: up to 8m (27ft) in eventual height
M = Medium: up to 12m (40ft) in eventual height
L = Large: ultimate height usually over 12m (40ft)
‡ = Lime-hating
= Good autumn colour
* = Evergreen
SE = Semi-evergreen (may drop some leaves in exposed areas or in a hard winter)
AGM = Denotes plants which have received the Society's Award of Garden Merit.
S Prunus ‘Kiku-shidare-zakura’ AGM 3m pink flowers April
S Prunus pendula ‘Pendula Rosea’ AGM 8m pink flowers March
S Prunus pendula ‘Pendula Rubra’ AGM 8m deep pink flowers March
S Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’ AGM 5m silvery foliage
S Salix purpurea ‘Pendula’ AGM 3m purple twigs
S Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdownii’ 8m small, neat, compact tree
The ultimate height of the following trees depends largely on the stem height at which they were grafted. They are strongly weeping or procumbent forms grafted on to sturdy stems of an upright form and subsequent height increase will be only moderate.
Caragana arborescens ‘Pendula’ yellow flowers June
Corylus avellana ‘Pendula’ catkins February
Cotoneaster salicifolius ‘Pendulus’ red fruits
Ilex aquifolium ‘Aurea Marginata Pendula’ silver variegated leaves, red berries
Ilex aquifolium ‘Pendula’ red berries
Laburnum alpinum ‘Pendulum’ yellow flowers May
Laburnum anagyroides ‘Pendulum’ yellow flowers May
Morus alba ‘Pendula’ fruits change from white to nearly black when ripe
Prunus cerasifera ‘Pendula’ white flowers March
Prunus mume ‘Pendula’ pale pink flowers February-March
M Koelreuteria paniculata AGM 10m medium sized broad-headed tree
S Mespilus germanica 6m‘medlar’ - small wide spreading tree
S Sorbus vilmorinii AGM 5m small tree with spreading habit, pink berries
When positioning trees in the garden, the final height and spread should be taken into account. Weeping forms rarely increase much in height and columnar trees do not spread appreciably.
It is important to choose the form and shape carefully. With the exception of weeping forms, even small ornamental trees may, in time, attain a height of 6–7m (18–21ft) or more. This includes shrubby species trained as tree forms, such as Cotoneaster and Ilex. To help you choose, try to visit gardens such as Wisley where a good range of well-established and mature ornamental trees can be seen and evaluated.
Wisley Laboratory Advisory Service
The Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden,
Wisley, Woking, Surrey GU23 6QB
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