Trees for Small Gardens

When selecting trees for a small garden in many cases there may only be space for one tree so choosing the right one is important. When planting in small enclosed spaces, it is advisable to plant trees that have a small crown spread.

Eventual height is an important factor too. Even small ornamental trees may, over time, reach a height of 6-7m or more. If you only have room for one tree ideally look for one with more than one feature or season of interest such as coloured bark or fruit or autumn colour following on from flowers. It is important when choosing trees for a small garden that any trees chosen are right for their surroundings in terms of proportion as well as for their decorative value.

Feel free to browse through our stock, we are always happy to talk about our trees. Visits to the nursery are welcome by appointment and are a great way to experience our trees for yourself.


  • "Acer campestre Nanum is a top worked variety with a very dwarfing, rounded habit. Its leaves are smaller than those of the species and they form a very dense crown. Acer campestre Nanum does best in well drained soils, but does well in virtually any soil type, and will readily tolerate drought, soil compaction and air pollution. Very good for streets and residential plantings, or any site where space is at a premium. This clone has long been in cultivation and was introduced in the 1830s."
  • "Acer griseum is a small tree, but a magnificent one. Originally from China, from an early age the bark peels to reveal cinnamon coloured under-bark and the trifoliate leaves have attractive reddish tints in autumn. Introduced by Ernest Wilson in 1901. Acer griseum does best in moist, well drained soil, and is not drought tolerant. Nutrient rich, wet soil can inhibit autumn colour."
  • "Acer palmatum Atropurpureum, known as Purple Japanese Maple, is a stunning and reliable clone introduced in the late 1850s. Best grown as a low branched bush, it emerges with deeply cut dark purple foliage in spring that turns to crimson in the autumn before leaf fall. Acer palmatum Atropurpureum thrives best on fertile, free draining soils in sheltered positions away from desiccating winds and scorching sun. Dark leaved trees provide wonderful contrast within a garden as its colour draws our eyes from the onset. With this in mind it is always good to plant on the extremity of the garden to focus the view through the plants."
  • "Acer platanoides Globosum was introduced in the 1870s. This lollipop tree is top grafted onto a platanoides stem to form a dense mop headed tree. A very good choice as a street tree and for urban plantings. It does well on most soil types, tolerates air pollution and resists drought. The dense rounded formality of the crown makes this a delight for architects seeking contrast. Wonderful when in full foliage, it is best for an urban environment where small is beautiful."
  • "Small but broad tree with a broad, virtually round crown. The leaves are 3-lobed, the middle lobe being significantly longer than the two side lobes. The leaves are bright green, turning yellowy orange to bright red in autumn. The fruits also turn bright red for several weeks as they ripen. This happens before the leaves change colour in autumn, so that the red fruits stand out attractively. Both the fruit and the autumn coloration benefit from a sunny location. A very hardy plant that flourishes on almost any soil type and is highly resistant to air pollution, drought and road salt."
  • "Amelanchier lamarckii (Service berry) is a stunning sight when in full bloom with its white flowers produced in plentiful racemes. It is a small, shrubby tree with emerging copper coloured leaves turning green by late spring before they mature to a rich red as autumn progresses. The rounded fruits, red in summer before turning black in autumn are edible. Amelanchier lamarckii is available in multi-stem form or as a single stem."
  • "Amelanchier Ballerina is a small tree that is naturalised over much of Western Europe and has the significant benefit of providing some interest at all points of the year. The profuse white flowers emerge in the spring, followed by foliage which is a coppery colour that turns to bright green by late spring. The autumn colour is brilliant red, emerging in conjunction with rounded fruits which are initially red in summer before turning black in the autumn. Although not the sweetest of tasting fruits, they are edible, adding to the attraction of this little tree as a superb addition to any garden planting scheme."
  • "Amelanchier arborea Robin Hill (Service berry) is a wonderful small tree which forms a dense oval habit and produces its masses of spring flowers that open pink and turn white. The young leaves emerge coppery red and then harden to green by late spring before they turn vivid red in autumn. A very good choice for street planting and residential areas, Amelanchier arborea Robin Hill provides plenty of interest with virtually no maintenance. Being such a small tree of ultimate size, it can be placed much closer to buildings than most trees which make it a fantastic choice for urban areas. It does best in moist, well drained, lime free soils."
  • "Betula pendula Youngii (Young's Weeping Birch) is a small to medium weeping birch which has no defined central leader and therefore eventually forms an attractive dome shape. The thin branches of Betula pendula Youngii eventually reach the ground and the serrated, triangular leaves show good autumn colour. It develops a smooth white bark and it is an attractive specimen tree for lawns. It grows well on most soils and has been a great favourite for many years."
  • "Carpinus betulus Fastigiata Frans Fontaine is a far better proposition for planting in restricted areas than Carpinus betulus Fastigiata. It retains its columnar habit, being only 3m wide after 25 years. It tolerates pollution and soil compaction, making it an excellent street tree. It grows well on most soils, including clay and chalk. It is a tree well suited for urban settings and for poor planting conditions."
  • Cercidiphyllum japonicum is a beautiful tree which can grow to more than 30m in its native Japan and China, however in Ireland plants rarely reach more than 15m. It has a rounded conical crown and attractive heart shaped leaves in opposite pairs. Katsura is a plant which gives interest all year round, with its constantly changing colour displays. In spring, its leaves flush out pinkish-bronze, gradually turning to a lush green in summer. Autumn brings brilliant displays of orange yellow and red and in our opinion the best quality is the accompanying smell of burnt sugar and candy floss which drifts gently in the breeze. Neither the flowers or fruits are particularly significant. Best grown in a rich, fertile soil avoiding sites which are windy or with hot afternoon sun as the leaves can scorch. May not colour as well in autumn on alkaline soils.
  • "Known commonly as Chinese Redbud, this hardy plant is fine on free draining soils but is not recommended in exposed areas. Dark pink buds litter the branch and stem network in the late spring to erupt into flower by May. Cercis Chinensis Avondale certainly is a show stopper and great for south facing gardens."
  • "Cornus controversa is a particularly stunning ornamental specimen tree that develops a layered type structure, similar to the tiers of a wedding cake. This interesting tree has elliptically shaped deep green foliage and broad clusters of creamy white flowers which emerge after the foliage in May."
  • "Japanese Dogwood is a small tree or large shrub, which grows rather slowly to 6m (20ft). It has an upright habit, widening with age. The beauty of this Dogwood is the large creamy white flower bracts which appear in early summer, are long lasting and can turn a pinkish tinge as they age. Strawberry like red fruits are produced which are edible, but an acquired taste. The leaves are green and rounded changing to reds and purples in autumn."
  • "Cornus kousa China Girl has large bracts, great autumn colour and good sized fruits. Plants as small as 40-60cm are capable of setting flower buds making this an ideal garden tree that exhibits lots of interest. The flowers of the Cornus kousa China Girl are borne in abundance in early spring and the foliage turns vivid colours by autumn. It will not thrive in alkaline soils and it is best only to plant on ground with a ph less than 7 and to avoid waterlogged or compacted soils."
  • "Cornus kousa Milky Way is a spectacular Chinese Dogwood that was selected from a seedbed in Ohio in the 1960’s and named for its abundant flower display suggestive of the many stars in the Milky Way!"
  • "Cornus kousa China Girl is an attractive, early flowering form of Dogwood introduced from Holland in the late 1970s. The foliage of this small garden tree is dark green in summer, turning to reds and oranges in winter time. In the summer the leaves often take up a slightly curled up appearance, which is completely normal for this species. The Chinese Dogwoods are renowned for their beautiful and abundant bract like flowers which are produced in early spring, followed by bright red strawberry like fruits that continue to add interest to this specimen throughout the summer months and into autumn."
  • "Cornus officinallis Robin’s Pride is a small ornamental flowering tree or shrub with all year round interest. It usually grows as a large, spreading, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub approx 15-25 feet tall but it may also be grown as a tree. It is very similar to Cornus mas except it grows with a slightly more open habit and flowers earlier. It produces hamamelis like, yellow flowers on bare stems in February and early March. Robin’s Pride has an attractive deep red-brown, textured, flaking bark and often has brown hair tufts in the vein axils on the underside of the leaf. Leaves are ovate to elliptical and dark green in colour. Autumn colour ranges from pale yellow to attractive reddish-purple. It also produces attractive shiny red, oval fruits approx. 1.5cm in size in the autumn. This is a great tree or shrub for attracting bird life. Root growth is densely branched and shallow. It prefers calcareous soil and a sunny or partial shade location."
  • "Crataegus laevigata Paul's Scarlet is a Hawthorn which has a fine display of double, pink-red flowers that arrive in May when almost all of the other spring flowering trees have finished their floral displays. The foliage is a classic Hawthorn shape, small and dark green, changing to red in the autumn time. The fruit also appear in the autumn and are red, very small and similar to the Common Hawthorn fruit. This tough tree is a quite resilient and will perform well in most soils, including very dry and wet conditions. It can however be a little slow to root post transplanting and thus we recommend moderate pruning of the crown in the first few years post planting to ensure that good anchorage is achieved. As a small to medium sized tree, Crataegus laevigata Paul's Scarlet is a great choice for gardens which are exposed or coastal as it is one of the very few ornamental varieties which can withstand a little salt laden wind. This species should be a certain inclusion for any planting project which looks to extend the floral display well into the early summer."
  • "Davidia involucrata (Handkerchief Tree or Dove Tree) is well named and much sought after. Its common name derives from the large white bracts which appear in May. These are followed by large, oval fruits in autumn. Foliage and habit are similar to those of the lime. A medium to large tree, it is very good for parks and does well in a fairly sheltered position. It thrives best on deep fertile soil."
  • "Davidia involucrata (Handkerchief Tree or Dove Tree) is well named and much sought after. Its common name derives from the large white bracts which appear in May. These are followed by large, oval fruits in autumn. Foliage and habit are similar to those of the lime. A medium to large tree, it is very good for parks and does well in a fairly sheltered position. It thrives best on deep fertile soil."
  • "Euonymous europaea Red Cascade is a super tree which gives its best display from September onwards, when it produces an abundance of rosy red-pink fruits which open up to show bright orange seed cases. The contrast between these colours is really quite remarkable and when the foliage turns deep red in November this effect is exaggerated further. In the spring time the leaves emerge bright green and remain throughout the summer until they turn in the autumn. Euonymous eurpaea Red Cascade is a tough clone which was selected by the University of Nebraska for the bright colour of the fruits it produces. This small tree will perform well in most soil conditions, and is a particularly good choice for chalky soils, yet it is best to avoid planting in water logged conditions. This is a great choice where space is extremely limited and is one of the very best selections of Euonymous in a tree form. It is useful in small gardens and offers a wealth of interest during the autumn period."
  • "Fagus sylvatica Dawyck Gold is a golden-leaved form of the Fastigiate Beech. A fairly large, columnar tree, which looks good from spring right through to autumn. In spring the leaves are golden yellow, turning pale green in summer before reverting to a golden yellow in autumn. It looks especially attractive planted planted against a dark background and is good as a specimen in parks and as a verge tree. Beech thrives just about anywhere other than exposed and coastal locations. As it is shallow rooted, under planting is not recommended. Doing well in most reasonably fertile, well drained soils, Fagus sylvatica Dawyck Gold will not thrive in heavy clay or light sand."
  • "Fagus sylvatica Dawyck is a medium to large tree with a columnar habit and is a very good choice for both wide verges and specimen plantings in parks. It is quite suitable for urban areas also. Even when mature, it is seldom more than 3m wide. Beech thrives just about anywhere other than exposed and coastal locations. As it is shallow rooted, under planting is not recommended with this variety."
  • "Fagus sylvatica Dawyck Purple is a fastigiate beech with stunning dark foliage. It is a little narrower than Dawyck Gold but not quite as dense. It makes a splendid tree for parks and verges and has striking, deep purple foliage."
  • "Fagus sylvatica Rohanii forms a large pyramidal tree at maturity which is perfect for parks, estates and open spaces. Like all Beech this cultivar does well in most reasonably fertile, well drained soils, it will not thrive in heavy clay or light sand and should not be planted in exposed or coastal locations. The foliage very stricking, deep purple in colour with a wavy margin to it. Like all dark purple leaved trees Fagus sylvatica Rohanii is best planted towards the back of a scheme, as these colours tend to draw focus away from anything that may sit behind."
  • "Halesia monticola is a stunning shapely small tree known for its beautiful snowdrop shaped flowers in masses of clusters in May/June. Striking autumn foliage which is bright yellow create a real feature in the garden."
  • "Halesia monticola is a stunning shapely small tree known for its beautiful snowdrop shaped flowers in masses of clusters in May/June. Striking autumn foliage which is bright yellow create a real feature in the garden."
  • "Hamamelis x intermedia has a terrific floral display with hints of yellow, orange and red on its ribbon like flowers which emerge sometimes as early as February. It only makes a small tree so is ideal for a garden border where space is at a premium. Hamamelis x intermedia has a great autumn display that can start quite early in September. The foliage turns from green top luminescent yellow / orange / red before falling in October. It thrives on most free draining soils but prefers moist conditions for optima growth."
  • "Ilex x aquipernyi Dragon Lady is a hybrid between Ilex aquifolium and Ilex pernyi. The cultivar grows as an upright, symmetrical, very narrow pyramid. Spiny, evergreen, dark green leaves are attractive year round. Scarlet fruits mature in autumn and remain on the plant through winter. As this is a female plant, if fruits are desired a male nearby clone is required. Hardy."
  • "Lagerstroemia indica known as Crape Myrtle, is a lovely garden tree for late summer flower, stunning autumn foliage colour and year round bark interest. Thriving best on free draining soils, it prefers a south facing sheltered position within a garden and likes the reflected heat bouncing off walls and patios. Lagerstroemia indica has an architectural beauty rarely surpassed in a garden setting."
  • "Liquidambar styraciflua Gumball is a mop headed tree that retains its dwarfing round shape. Autumn colour is great, graduating to a deep claret in some years and the crop of 2015/16 retained this display thought the winter which was rather a surprise to us. Thriving on most well drained soils, stay clear of heavily alkaline soils. Often supplied as a half standard, this great autumn colour tree can be accommodated in most sized gardens."
  • "Liriodendron tulipifera Fastigiata is an upright form of the Tulip tree which is perfect for planting where space is at a premium. This tree has large bright green, smooth lobed leaves that appear in the spring time, turning to golden yellow in the autumn time. The most notable feature of this tree is the curious large, green-yellow tulip shaped flowers produced in June and July and unlike its parent this variety will produce a floral display when still young. Liriodendron tulipifera Fastigiata has a very stiffly upright branching system and as such produces a tear drop shape at maturity. It is similar to the growth pattern of the Upright Hornbeam, Carpinus betulus Fastigiata, which will be very columnar when young, maturing to have a somewhat middle aged spread and “fat” tear dropped shape. Unlike some ornate specimen trees this variety is wind resistant and will thrive on most well fertile soils."
  • "Magnolia x loebneri Leonard Messel is one of the most beautiful magnolias producing abundant dainty white-lilac flowers in spring. It only makes a small tree so it is perfect for a garden and it is reasonable lime tolerant. There can be as many as 12 to 15 petals on a single glorious flower and in the spring the tree is smothered with velvety cased buds waiting to burst."
  • "Magnolia loebneri Snowdrift is a hybrid of M. kobus and M. stellata, forming a small tree or large shrub, and producing a profusion of white flowers in April. 'Snowdrift' has particularly large flowers and slightly larger leaves. The flowers appear as a goblet then unfold into a star-shape. It will succeed well on all types of well-drained soil, including chalk. Full sun or partial shade. Very hardy."
  • "The flowers of Magnolia stellata are always a welcome sight as they burst open on bare branches, heralding the start of spring. A native of Japan, Magnolia stellata still grows there in the wild alongside streams, at elevations up to 600m. It is a slow growing deciduous shrub eventually reaching up to 4m in height and width. The growth is ovate and upright when young spreading with age to form a beautiful rounded shrub or small tree. Early in the spring before the leaves appear, the grey silky buds open and allow the large white, starry flowers to unfurl. Made up of over a dozen tepals, they can be up to 4 inches across and with a delicate, subtle fragrance. Depending on the air temperature, they can sometimes have a slight blush of pink to them. The flowers can be tender to hard frosts and so it is best to position the plants somewhere with shade early in the morning and sun later in the day. When the foliage appears, it has a bronzy tinge, maturing to a dark green oblong leaf, smaller than many other species of Magnolia. In Autumn, it has a red-green knobbly fruit which splits to reveal orange seeds inside. It is not uncommon for the fruit to drop before it develops fully. Closely related to Magnolia kobus, it was previously considered to be a variety of this but was later confirmed to be its own species. Magnolia loebneri was bred by using Magnolia stellata and Magnolia kobus as the parent plants."

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