Small but perfectly formed: Plants for a small garden

You’re probably enjoying the fruits of your labours in the garden at this time of year.  Summer brings with it a glorious spectrum of floral, foliage and fragrant delights, whether you’re there to enjoy them or they’re waiting for you when you come back from your summer holiday.

So, as you sit on a beach or enjoy a walk in the summer sun, perhaps contemplate your future planting plans for the autumn.  Whether you’ve a small garden or have a plan to plant up a small area of a larger open space, we’ve a few suggestion for trees, hedging and shrubs ideal for a little garden pocket of loveliness.

Here’s our top 5 plants for a small garden – perfect trees for a smaller open space.  These beautiful compact ornamental trees give an array of all-year interest, either on their own for a statement tree or combined to make a fantastic wooded area:

field maple acer campestreField Maple (Acer campestre)

An attractive medium-sized native tree, equally at home in a small garden or as a companion for hawthorn in a rustic hedge.  Resilient and adaptable to most sites except the most waterlogged, the Field Maple is tolerant of shade and frost.  Clusters of yellow-green flowers appear in May followed by winged fruit.

rowan sorbus aucupariaRowan (Sorbus aucuparia)

A pretty British native tree and also known as Mountain Ash, this tree suits a smaller garden with its delicate leaves, creamy flowers, scarlet-orange berries and good autumn leaf colour.  Trouble-free to grow, it has excellent wildlife value, too.

cherry plum prunus cerasiferaCherry Plum (Prunus cerasifera)

An ever-present British tree since its introduction over 300 years ago, the Cherry Plum has early flowers that show from February, followed by small green edible fruits, ripening in late summer.  With glossy dark green leaves and a dark brown, smooth, shiny bark, this tree brings a beautiful spectrum of interest in a small garden, preferring well-drained soil.

bird cherry prunus padusBird Cherry (Prunus padus)

A late spring stunner with a full display of blossom, this native tree is both ornamental and wildlife-friendly.  It grows in even the poorest soil and is great for every garden pocket. A veritable feast for wildlife, the Bird Cherry has over 30 species of insect interested in its leaves and flowers and birds can enjoy its fruits in late summer.

crab apple malus sylvestrisCrab Apple (Malus sylvestris)

A pretty addition to any small open space, the Crab Apple is a rounded tree, attractive in both blossom and fruit.  A good pollinator for other apples, the Crab is also a worthy tree for small woodlands where it will support a range of insects and birds.  Too sour to eat raw, its fruits can be made into jams or ciders.

As many of us will be away at this time of year, gardens often experience a bit of downtime this month.  Your plants can fend for themselves during your summer break, but don’t forget to keep on top of your watering regime. Get creative with your watering plans, too – our blog post on creative watering will start you off.  And remember…


  1. CHECK tree ties, stakes and guards to make sure that they’re not restricting or damaging the plants and remove any that are no longer needed
  2. Use WATER sparingly but give special focus to new seedlings, perennials, trees and shrubs as their roots won’t yet be strong enough to search out water from lower in the soil
  3. TRIM hedges, but check for nesting birds before you begin. Leave the hedge cut wider at the base than the top – this not only looks better, it allows maximum light to the whole hedge, keeping it healthy and lush.
  4. Pre-order your bare root plants, ready for the Winter – and save 15%.

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