Trees as presents
Trees make excellent presents. As with everything it's the thought that counts and some of the things you need to think about are covered here.
"Right tree, right place" is the overriding maxim. Visit the planting site and imagine how the tree will look when fully grown. It should fit comfortably into the space without any need for pruning in later life. It's also best to work out where shade from the tree will fall and how that could affect others. If the site is already shady, choose a tree that can manage with less sun.
Check whether the soil will provide good growing conditions. Plymouth's natural soils are fertile and hold moisture well but, particularly on new developments, the top-soil can be thin and the underlying ground compacted and full of builders' waste. It's usually best to dig a hole and see but, before doing so, check where the main services run.
When you have a shortlist of possible trees for the site, you can decide the best one for the person you have in mind. If they like growing their own food and want to live more sustainably, fruit trees must be top of the list. With flowers in spring and fruit in late summer they provide plenty of interest as well. Japanese maples are graceful and slow growing and will always be appreciated by those with an eye for beauty.
For someone who wants something different, look through the lists of rare trees and pick one the neighbours definitely won't have. Conifers come in a host of different shapes and sizes but, carefully chosen, their sculptural quality usually lends valuable form to a garden. Lastly, Britain's 33 native trees all have their own unique features and they are the ones that are most likely to attract birds and wildlife.
With many species and cultivars to choose from, there will be at least one that's perfect for the place and person you have in mind. Take time to browse through the wide range of gardening books and tree manuals. A good way to shop is using nursery catalogues or visiting a nursery with its own specialist tree and shrub collection like these ones near Plymouth:
Otter Nurseries, near Elburton - Otter Nurseries
Endsleigh Garden Nursery, near Milton Abbot - Endsleigh Gardens Nursery
Duchy of Cornwall Nursery, near Lostwithiel - Duchy of Cornwall Nursery
Container-grown trees can be given at any time of the year. Just let the recipient know it must be kept from drying out until the roots are firmly established which usually takes 2-3 years.
If you know someone who would like a tree but doesn't have a garden, why not consider giving a tree through the Family Tree Scheme? On a larger scale, Plymouth Tree Partnership can help you find a suitable spot for planting in a public place. It would be a gift to the city as well as a present to that special person in your life. If this is something you would like to investigate, select 'project idea' on the drop down menu under Contact Us.
Whatever you decide, the great thing about trees is that they increase in stature and beauty year-by-year and, carefully chosen, they will give pleasure every single day. There aren't many other presents that can do that.