The Royal Horticultural Society Horticultural Advisory Leaflet Number 181 March 2000

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The Royal Horticultural Society

Horticultural Advisory Leaflet

Number 181 March 2000

Trees for Smaller Gardens

(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.

Flowering Trees

M‡ Amelanchier lamarckii AGM 10m white flowers, April

M Cercis siliquastrum AGM 10m rose-purple flowers, April-May

S  Cornus kousa 7m white bracts, June

S  Cornus kousa var. chinensis AGM 7.5m white bracts, June, slightly taller than above

S Crataegus laevigata ‘Paul’s Scarlet’ AGM 8m dark red flowers, May-June

S Crataegus laevigata ‘Plena’ 8m double white flowers, May-June

S Crataegus laevigata ‘Rosea Flore Pleno’ AGM 8m double pink flowers, May-June

S Genista aetnensis AGM 8m yellow flowers, July

M Koelreuteria paniculata AGM 10m yellow flowers, July-August

S + Laburnocytisus ‘Adamii’ 8m yellow and purple flowers, May

S Laburnum watereri ‘Vossii’ AGM 8m yellow flowers, May

S Magnolia loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’ AGM 8m lilac-pink flowers, April-May

S Magnolia loebneri ‘Merrill’ AGM 8m white flowers, April

M‡ Magnolia salicifolia AGM 10m white flowers, April

S‡ Magnolia soulangeana 6m white-purplish flowers, April

S Malus baccata ‘Lady Northcliffe’ 6m pinkish-white flowers, May, yellow/brown fruits

M  Malus coronaria var. dasycalyx ‘Charlottae’ 9m pink flowers, late May

S Malus ‘Evereste’ AGM 7m white flowers, late April, yellow fruits

M Malus floribunda AGM 10m red in bud, opening pink then white, red/yellow fruits

M Malus hupehensis AGM 12m white flowers, May–June, small red fruits

M Malusmoerlandsii ‘Profusion’ 10m pink flowers, April, red/orange fruits

M Malus purpurea ‘Neville Copeman’ AGM 9m pink in bud, then white, late May, small, red fruits

S Malus ‘Van Eseltine’ 8m red flowers, April, red fruits

S Prunus ‘Accolade’ AGM 8m soft pink flowers 4cm across, May

S Prunus ‘Kursar’ AGM 8m pale pink flowers 2cm across, April

M Prunus ‘Pandora’ AGM 10m deep pink flowers 3cm across, March

S Prunus ‘Pink Perfection’ AGM 8m double pale pink flowers 5cm across, March-April

Flowering Trees (continued)

S Prunus amygdalopersica ‘Pollardii’ 7m pale yellowish flowers 5cm across, April

S  Prunus ‘Shirofugen’ AGM 8m double pale pink flowers 5cm across, April-May

S  Prunus ‘Shôgetsu’ AGM 5m double white flowers 5cm across, April-May

S Prunus ‘Ukon’ AGM 8m double white flowers 4 cm, April-May

S Prunus persica ‘Klara Mayer’ 8m double peach-pink flowers, 4cm across, April

S Prunus subhirtella ‘Autumnalis Rosea’ AGM 8m blush pink flowers 2cm across, November-March

M Pyrus nivalis 12m white flowers in April, woolly new shoots

M‡ Styrax japonicus AGM 10m white flowers June

Autumn Colour Foliage and Fruits

M‡ Acer griseum AGM 10m ‘Paperbark maple’, red and scarlet foliage in autumn

S‡ Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’ AGM 5m deeply lobed, leaves turning ruby-crimson in autumn

M‡ Acer maximowiczianum 12m trifoliate leaves turning orange and flame in autumn

S‡ Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’ AGM 6m leaves turn fiery scarlet in autumn

M‡ Acer tataricum subsp. ginnala AGM 10m bright green leaves turning orange and crimson in


M‡ Amelanchier lamarckii AGM 10m leaves coppery red when young colouring richly in autumn

S Crataeguslavalleei ‘Carrierei’ AGM 7m orange fruits 2cm long - long lasting and good foliage colour

S Crataegus persimilis ‘Prunifolia’ AGM 8m crimson fruits and good foliage colour

S Malusrobusta ‘Red Sentinel’ AGM 7m red fruits, 2.5cm across - long lasting

M Malusrobusta ‘Yellow Siberian’ AGM 12m yellow fruits, 2cm across

S Malus transitoria AGM 8m rounded, yellow fruits, 8mm across

M Malus tschonoskii AGM 12m foliage turns yellow, orange, purple and scarlet,

yellowish-green fruits tinged reddish-purple, 3cm across

M Maluszumi ‘Golden Hornet’ AGM 10m yellow fruits, 2.5cm across

M‡ Nyssa sinensis AGM 10m slow growing, rich autumn colour

M Prunus ‘Pandora’ AGM 10m shell pink flowers 3cm across March/April, young leaves bronze-red, colouring richly in autumn

L Prunus sargentii AGM 20m young foliage bronze-red, single pink flowers

March/April, orange and crimson fruits in autumn

L Sorbus aucuparia ‘Aspleniifolia’ 15m red fruits and good foliage colour

S Sorbus cashmiriana AGM 8m white fruits

M Sorbus commixta 10m red fruits and good foliage colour

M Sorbus commixta ‘Embley’ AGM 10m orange-red fruits and good foliage colour

S Sorbus hupehensis AGM 8m pink-white fruits and good foliage colour

M Sorbus ‘Joseph Rock’ AGM 10m amber yellow fruits and good foliage colour

M Sorbus sargentiana AGM 10m scarlet fruits and good foliage colour

S Sorbus vilmorinii AGM 5m rose-red to white fruits and good foliage colour

Coloured Foliage Spring and Summer

S Acer negundo ‘Auratum’ 8m golden yellow leaves, turning paler in summer

L Acer negundo ‘Flamingo’ AGM 15m leaves cream and pink with green when young

L Acer negundo ‘Variegatum’ 15m white margined/tendency to revert to green

S‡ Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’ 8m bronzy crimson

S Acer pseudoplatanus ‘Brilliantissimum’ AGM 6m pink to yellowish to green

M Gleditsia triacanthos ‘Sunburst’ AGM 12m golden yellow

M Prunus cerasifera ‘Nigra’ AGM 10m dark purple

S Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’ AGM 5m silver grey

L Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’ AGM 15m bright yellow

M Sorbus aria ‘Lutescens’ AGM 10m early silver grey/yellow, later grey/green

Coloured Stems and Bark

M‡ Acer capillipes AGM 10m young growth bright red, branches streaked green and white

M‡ Acer griseum AGM 10m dark, flaking bark to reveal orange underneath

L‡ Acer grosseri var. hersii AGM 15m green, silver stripe

S‡ Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’ AGM 6m coral-red young branches

M‡ Acer pensylvanicum AGM 12m green, white stripes

L Betula ermanii ‘ Grayswood Hill’ AGM 20m pure white trunk, orange branches

L Betula papyrifera 20m white, peeling to reveal orange underneath

L Betula utilis var. jacquemontii 18m pure white

M Eucalyptus glaucescens 12m smooth, white bark, peeling in red flakes

S* Eucalyptus pauciflora subsp. niphophila AGM 6m mottled green, grey, cream

M Prunus serrula AGM 10m mahogany brown


S* Arbutus unedo AGM 8m flowers white, October-November, fruits red

MSE Cotoneaster frigidus ‘Cornubia’ AGM 10m berries red

SSE Cotoneaster salicifolius ‘Rothschildianus’ AGM 5m berries yellow

SSE Cotoneaster watereri ‘John Waterer’ AGM 5m berries red

S* Eucalyptus pauciflora subsp. niphophila AGM 6m grey-green leaves, patchwork bark

S* Ilex altaclerensis ‘Golden King’ AGM 6m female, yellow margin, red berries

M* Ilex aquifolium ‘Golden Queen’ AGM 10m male, yellow margin

M* Ilex aquifolium ’Madame Briot’ AGM 10m female, yellow margin, red berries

S* Ilex aquifolium ‘Pyramidalis’ AGM 6m female, red berries

M* Ligustrum lucidum AGM 10m flowers white August-September

S* Photinia davidiana 8m berries red, some leaves colour in autumn

L* Prunus lusitanica AGM 20m flowers white, berries red/black

Most are usually seen as large shrubby specimens, often multiple-stemmed, but can be trained to a single stem as small trees.

Tall and Narrow (fastigiate or columnar)

L Acer lobelii 20m ascending branches form a compact, conical head,

broadening with age

L Betula pendula ‘Fastigiata’ 20m an erect form of stiff habit

M Crataegus monogyna ‘Stricta’ 10m branches erect

L Fagus sylvatica ‘Dawyck Gold’ AGM 18m a tall, columnar tree broadening with age, yellow juvenile foliage

L Liriodendron tulipifera ‘Fastigiatum’ AGM 20m an erect tree of broadly columnar habit

M  Malus tschonoskii AGM 12m erect, conical habit, orange/purple autumn foliage

S  Prunus ‘Amanogawa’ AGM 8m columnar with erect branches

L  Prunus sargentii ‘Columnaris’ 20m narrow, upright tree, bright orange autumn foliage

M  Prunus ‘Spire’ AGM 10m a vase-shaped tree, orange/red autumn foliage

S Prunus ‘Umineko’ 8m narrow growing, upright tree

L Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’ AGM 15m narrow-headed tree

S Sorbus aucuparia ‘Fastigiata’ 8m slow growing, columnar small tree with closely erect


M Sorbus aucuparia ‘Sheerwater Seedling’ AGM 10m a vigorous, upright small tree with compact

ascending branches


Low and spreading but some height increase can often be obtained by careful training.

S Betula pendula ‘Youngii’ AGM 8m white bark

S Buddleja alternifolia AGM 4m mauve flowers June

S Cotoneaster salicifolius ‘Pendulus’ 5m red fruits

L Fraxinus excelsior ‘Pendula’ AGM 15m winter buds black

S Laburnum anagyroides ‘Pendulum’ 7m yellow flowers May

Weeping (continued)

S Malusgloriosa ‘Oekonomierat Echtermeyer’ 5m crimson flowers April, purple fruit

S Malus ‘Royal Beauty’ AGM 2m reddish purple flowers, dark red fruits

S Malus schiedekeri ‘Red Jade’ 4m pink and white flowers April, red fruit

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

Salix caprea ‘Kilmarnock’ AGM large catkins March

Sorbus aucuparia ‘Pendula’ red fruits

Spreading Trees Casting Light Shade

M‡ Amelanchier lamarckii AGM 10m young leaves coppery-red, rich autumn colours,

white flowers in May, black fruits

M Catalpa bignonioides ‘Aurea’ AGM 10m medium sized, low, wide spreading, golden foliage

S  Crataegus persimilis ‘Prunifolia’ AGM 8m small, compact, broad-headed tree, red fruit

M Gleditsa triacanthos ‘Sunburst’ AGM 12m medium sized, broad-headed tree, golden foliage

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.

Compiled by

Wisley Laboratory Advisory Service

The Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden,

Wisley, Woking, Surrey GU23 6QB

The mention of any product, supplier or service does not constitute an endorsement by the Society.

RHS - not to be copied or reproduced without prior permission.
THIS LEAFLET IS FREE TO RHS MEMBERS Printed on recycled paper

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