Gardening with Jo: Beautiful and practical trees for the privacy of your garden
Lately we’ve all found solace in our backyards and I’m happy to say that doesn’t seem to be diminishing since we’ve found more freedom from lockdown.
People are always looking for mature trees and trees for screening and privacy on our Caragh Nurseries website, so let me share with you some of our personal favorites and explain how they can be both beautiful and practical.
Quercus Ilex or Holm Oak
Evergreen Oak is always at the top of our list because it ticks all the boxes. It is persistent, provides good coverage, but is also easy to care for and its growth is relatively slow.
This evergreen tree is most often grown as a standard tree on a clear 1.8 meter trunk, with a compact but full head. Sometimes it’s sculpted and cylindrical, but can also be grown loose and more natural, while still providing a great display.
It is a member of the oak family but its botanical name, Quercus Ilex, refers to the fact that its leaves are more like holly or ilex in shape and structure.
This tree can grow taller over time, but its slow growth ensures that it can be easily managed with pruning every three to five years.
Olea Europea or Olivier
We all have a long-standing love affair with the olive tree here on the nursery. The gray-green foliage and loose tendrils remind us of some of our favorite places in the world. They are unlike any other evergreen tree, they are sweeter, softer but just as hardy; and there is no other tree that you can mature in terms of years. We have trees on the nursery that are over 50 years old and we have supplied and delivered trees to a hotel that was over 1,500 years old. It is not only a work of art, but also a slice of history.
Pinus Sylvestris or Scots pine
We have been growing Scots pine in our fields in Caragh for almost 20 years. With its bluish gray needles and marvelous flamboyant sculptural form (when ripe) and orange bark, this is such an instantly recognizable tree.
As with virtually all conifers, it begins its life as a fairly unremarkable cone-shaped tree, but as it matures it loses its lower branches and can form the most beautiful and creative shapes. . The normal tree can take 40 years (at least) to reach 35 feet, when it takes on some of its finest traits. It’s not only great for scouting and wonderful when ripe, it’s also one of the best trees for absorbing noise pollution.
Magnolia grandiflora or Evergreen Magnolia
The evergreen magnolia is very different in appearance from the usual deciduous magnolias with its large oversized glossy leaves with their fluffy rust colored underside.
It grows in a true conical natural habit and grows considerably taller, but the most impressive detail that sets it apart are the flowers that arrive much later in the year, blooming around July in Ireland.
Flowers are few, bloom much better in Dublin and on the south coast but there are still a very small number of flowers on average a year – but what flowers! A tumbler huge like creamy white flowers, such an awesome sight and scent.
These are beautiful trees planted as a centerpiece but also planted in rows of three or five.
Arbutus unedo or Killarney Strawberry Tree
This tree is commonly referred to as the Killarney strawberry tree because it is native to southwestern Ireland, but it is believed to have been imported from northern Spain and Portugal.
It is recognized as a lovely domed evergreen foliage in gardens, especially near the coast where it does well in salt-laden breezes.
Like all strawberry trees, it needs good drainage. It is one of those trees that grows very slowly but is worth the wait. Its strawberry-like fruits can be eaten but do not taste as pleasant as they seem; and its white bell-shaped flowers cover the tree in early summer. It is naturally a multi-stemmed tree and will grow to be around 20 feet tall, but it could take over 50 years.
Fagus sylvatica or beech
Beech is often considered the mother of the forest because it casts a protective shadow with its leaves. It is also called the queen of the forest, the companion of the king of the forest: the oak.
In legends, beech is associated with ancient wisdom. And historically thin slices of beech formed the first book. These days the beech is just a pretty gorgeous tree and one that we recommend both for maturity and for scouting. Although it is deciduous, it retains its coppery foliage of fallen leaves, creating cover to help screen even in winter. It is therefore a win-win solution for those who wish to create a barrier while retaining the beauty of the changing seasonality of one of our native trees. The added benefit of deciduous trees like beech being less expensive than their evergreen counterparts also helps.
All of these trees can be planted year round and can be provided in mature and larger sizes to create instant impact in any size garden, and also help with modern issues associated with nearby life and lack. privacy that brings with that. We love the perks of city living, but not necessarily having the next bedroom window facing directly out to your kitchen window. A cleverly placed tree can usually be the answer.