Eight Great Trees for New Zealand Urban Gardens

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on 30 April 2021, 12:40

What is the perfect tree for my garden? 

Planting a tree - it’s a commitment,  you have to make sure it is the right match, otherwise, you waste time and money!

Our urban spaces are getting smaller, so finding a tree that is suitable for your designated space, that won’t grow to a size that is unmanageable, is very important. 

Here are our top picks of trees that are beautiful, have seasonality, and are the right size for urban gardens.

1. Acer Seiryu - Japanese Maple 

Acer seiryu

All Japanese Maples are a great choice for small gardens, but one of our favourites is Acer Seiryu - it is an upright variety with vibrant green foliage in the summer months, turning red during Autumn. Deciduous yes, but the beauty of a tree that loses its leaves is that the light filters through in the winter. With Seiryu you need a garden to be 1.2m in width minimum. 

2. Cercis Ruby Falls 

Cercis Ruby Falls

 Cercis are another great species for small gardens. You could use any of the other varieties too, but the great thing with Ruby falls is it’s a weeper, so where you don’t want too much height   these are a great option. Ruby Falls has striking dark burgundy foliage that can be used to break up a high wall of the house, fence, or used as a feature in the main garden. 

3. Liquidambar Gumball 

Liquidambar Gumball

Typically Liquidamber are big and not suitable for small urban gardens, they are usually street trees or big specimen trees on large properties. Liquidambar Gumball is a selected form grafted onto a standard, so more of a topiary. The best thing though, you don’t need to constantly trim them to shape, they do it themselves. Liquidamber has the most beautiful autumn colouring. Liquidambar Gumball is great for around a courtyard, a garden against the house, or could even be used in a large pot. 

4. Cornus Eddies White Wonder 

Cornus Eddies White Wonder  (1)

Cornus are BEAUTIFUL. Towards the middle to the end of spring, just as the weather is warming up and you are starting to enjoy your outdoor space, the flowers will stop you in your tracks! The flowers last a long time and make a superb feature tree. They hold quite a compact upright habit making it a great tree for boundary screening. 

5. Michelia Fairy White  

Michelia Fairy White 2

An evergreen! Michelia Fairy White is commonly known as the Fairy Magnolia. They hold a great habit and get to a height of 3m and width of 2m making them a great choice for an Evergreen Tree to add structure to your garden or create privacy from the prying eyes from next door. The flowers in spring are a striking pure white, with the added advantage of being scented. 

6. Pyrus salicifolia pendula - Silver Weeping Pear

Silver Weeping Pear

Silver Weeping Pears are a great choice, especially for new gardens that are exposed as they are so tough in the wind. The silver foliage really stands out against a green backdrop or a dark fence, where a feature is needed to add a bit of height and structure. They are easy to look after as they just require a trim every couple of years to keep them tamed. As with the Cercis above, weeping trees are a very good option where you are limited with height - you will need at least 1.5m width of garden for the Silver Weeping Pear to really shine. 

7. Magnolia Little Gem 

Magnolia Little Gem

Magnolia Little Gem is evergreen, holding those big large glossy leaves year-round. Large creamy white flowers from November - March and wait for it…… they are scented! Magnolia Little Gem is not too bad in clay soils too which can often be a hard mandate. They will get to 4m tall and 3m wide. 

8. Acer Bloodgood - Japanese Maple 

Acer Bloodgood

We started with the Japanese Maple and we end with the Japanese Maple. They are that good. With Bloodgood, you don’t have to wait for autumn for the color. The dark burgundy foliage emerges in spring and holds on right until late autumn. Acer Bloodgood is an ideal choice against a stark wall or fence, or in amongst a shrubbery as a feature.