Sky's the limit in the bush

Fiona's Garden: Sky's the limit in the bush


Life & Style
Deciduous swamp cypress (Taxodium distichum) need damp conditions to reach their full potential. This photo was taken at Mayfield Gardens, Oberon in early May.

Deciduous swamp cypress (Taxodium distichum) need damp conditions to reach their full potential. This photo was taken at Mayfield Gardens, Oberon in early May.

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Country gardeners are lucky in being able to grow large trees. Yet for town gardeners the proximity of fences and neighbours make it impossible.

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Country gardeners are lucky in being able to grow large trees. It's easy to take this for granted, yet for town gardeners the proximity of fences and neighbours make it impossible.

Any urban gardener who has had to deal with a vast elm or oak (let alone a gum) planted 100 years ago, knows where I'm coming from on this one. But in the bush the sky's the limit. Big trees can be used in several ways.

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A single specimen creates a focal point, or you can combine the same species or several different ones in a group or planted in lines as an entrance avenue.

Whichever way you go, you are creating a beautiful, long-term feature and a microclimate that will offer cool shade in summer and shelter from frost in winter.

The dominant large tree in our garden is an English oak (Quercus robur) planted 60 years ago. It's about 11-12 metres tall with a circumference of two and a half metres at a height of one metre. Its branches spread out with a radius of eight metres.

It is beautiful at all seasons. I love its unfolding spring leaves, its dense summer shade, its gold and brown autumn colour, and the bare branches against the sky in winter. It is also surprisingly resilient in our hot, dry climate considering it's an English native and has come through recent summers unscathed.

Other lovely oaks include sessile oak (Quercus petraea) with stalkless (sessile) acorns, and three gorgeous, autumn colouring North American beauties: red oak (Q. rubra), scarlet oak (Q. coccinea) and bog-loving pin oak (Q. palustris). All may reach 40 metres at maturity.

The dominant large tree in our garden is an English oak (Quercus robur) planted 60 years ago. It's about 11-12 metres tall with a circumference of two and a half metres at a height of one metre. - Fiona Ogilvie

Other large deciduous trees to consider include maples (Acer rubrum, Norway maple A. platanoides, sugar maple A. saccharum), tulip tree (Liriodendron) with green and yellow striped, tulip shaped spring flowers, and ashes (Fraxinus) especially our Australian claret ash (Fraxinus 'Raywood') a seedling of Caucasian Ash from Mount Lofty Ranges, and the glorious golden ash (F. excelsior 'Aurea').

Sadly, English elms are on the nose thanks to the elm bark beetle's depredations. Originally the tallest trees here, ours have all succumbed.

The Asian zelkova (Z. serrata, 30 metres) is a better alternative, with similar, serrated leaves, red in autumn.

Two deciduous conifers colour beautifully in autumn, Chinese dawn redwood (Metasequoia) and North American swamp cypress (Taxodium).

Both have yew-like foliage, pale green turning tawny red, and are easy and fast.

Swamp cypress needs a damp site: perfect beside water.

Boggy ground is a dream for most of us but we can all grow a Mediterranean cedar, either an upright, blue Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica glauca), a spreading deodar (C. deodara) or if you're me, both.

I planted one of each near our entrance in 1990 and they are now 10 metres tall and give me as much pleasure as any tree I grow.

Stratfor Trees (www.stratfordtrees.com.au/ phone 0427 375 749) grow a wide range of trees and also offer a sourcing service to help with landscaping needs.

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