Trees and shrubs with a tiered growth habit
Words: Phil Clayton, Features Editor for The Garden
There are other trees and shrubs alongside Cornus controversa 'Variegata' and Cornus alternifolia 'Argentea' that are tiered in habit:
Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum ‘Mariesii’
This deservedly popular shrub is well known for its distinctive tabular growth habit and heads of white flowers that rather resemble small lacecap hydrangeas with both fertile and showier sterile flowers. The blooms appear in early summer and crowd the tops of the wide spreading branches above serrated oval foliage that may provide colourful tints in autumn before falling. Give the plant plenty of space- it will spread to 4.5m (15ft) and can reach 3.6m (12ft) tall.
With spreading, fan-shaped branches, this shrub’s horizontal habit becomes more obvious once the plant has matured. Glossy, bright green leaves emerge in early spring held on curiously winged stems. This plant’s real glory however comes in autumn when its foliage turns a dazzling scarlet as it falls. The plant will spread to 3m (10ft) and reach 2m (6.5ft) high.
Abies nordmanniana ‘Golden Spreader’
There are many conifers with a fairly tabular pattern of growth but this compact, slow growing conifer makes a good choice in smaller gardens and is particularly effective in winter when its golden foliage makes a dazzling contribution. The tree with its densely packed horizontal branches eventually makes a roughly conical shape but usually wider than tall, eventually to 2m (6.5ft) or more across, to around 1.5 m (5ft) tall.
The dove tree or handkerchief tree is one of the finest of hardy summer flowering trees, with its showy white bracts (which encase rounded heads of true flowers)produced in profusion in May or June. The flower heads hang on short stems so that they crown the undersides of the branches, enhancing the tabular effect. Bracts are usually only produced on mature trees which usually have a broadly spreading conical shape. Plants will need plenty of space in time, spreading to around 9m (30ft) and reaching 12m (40ft) or more high.
The monkey puzzle tree is well known for its distinctive appearance, and in some respects it is as a young plant that this conifer is at its most appealing, with its near horizontal lower branches clad with fiercely pointed scale like foliage creating a remarkable appearance. As the tree ages, the lower branches are often lost as a dome shaped crown develops, the tree reaching 18m (60ft) or more tall.