Trees for smaller gardens

With brilliant blooms and vibrant autumn colour, this choice selection is perfect for petite plots

 If you're searching for trees for your garden, a garden or arboretum visit can help you see and compare a wide range of trees, and choose a suitable one to bring you years of pleasure.

We asked two RHS Partner Gardens with outstanding tree collections - Bluebell Arboretum, South Derbyshire and Nymans, West Sussex - to recommend trees worthy of a place in the smaller garden.

Bluebell Arboretum's top trees

This 3.6ha (9 acre) arboretum is home to a huge collection of labelled trees and shrubs, including particularly good ranges of Liquidambar, Quercus, Cornus, Acer, Metasequoia, Sequoiadendron.

Acer griseum (paperbark maple)


A slow growing, hardy tree with lovely peeling bark once established, interesting summer foliage and great autumn colour.

The ornamental bark makes established specimens breathtaking all year round. There are several nice specimens in the garden, the largest of them (approx 20 ft x 12 ft) about 18 years old.

Liquidambar styraciflua 'Slender Silhouette' (columnar sweet gum)


This eye-catching and very narrow, upright selection of Liquidambar has a very limited spread. Left to its own devices it will grow to be tall and narrow, yet can be pruned to limit the size at the required height. Tough and hardy with interesting summer foliage and great autumn colour. (Size: up to 3ft spread and 10-15ft tall after 10-15 years).

Amelanchier lamarckii 'Ballerina'Amelanchier lamarckii 'Ballerina' (snowy mespilus)


Not especially rare, but still a very good small branching tree for gardens with limited space. It is tough, hardy and has masses of spring flowers, followed in June by small fruits that are loved by birds. (Size: after 10-15 years, up to 10-12ft tall, 8-10ft spread)

Nymans' top trees

Nymans has a significant collection of trees, including 31 champions and material wild-collected by plant hunters Ernest Wilson and Frank Kingdon-Ward. There's also a wide range of ornamental spring-flowering trees to see such as Magnolia, Stewartia, Styrax, Cornus and Halesia.

Acer palmatum 'Osakazuki'


A compact Japanese maple with brilliant orange-scarlet autumn colour.

Cornus kousa var. chinensisCornus kousa var. chinensis


This small tree offers year-round interest: red and orange autumn colour, creamy bracts in late spring and strawberry-like summer fruit, as well as fine bark. Height to 3-4m, spread 2m.

Cornus kousa ‘Miss Satomi’


An exceptional flowering tree smothered in deep pink bracts in late spring. Autumn foliage turning purple and deep red.

Styrax japonicus


An elegant medium-sized tree, with bell-shaped flowers borne profusely in spring and yellow-orange leaves in autumn. Height to 6–8m.

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