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Design crisis!

ThankthecatThankthecat Posts: 421
edited March 2018 in Garden design
My current garden is the only one I've ever had to design from scratch. Needless to say I've made a lot of mistakes and I need help to correct one of them. On my first attempt in one particular large, squarish bed I wanted some height and planted a Worcester apple tree slightly left of centre. Two mistakes there: it proved impractical to pick the apples when ripe, as the bed was then full of perennials and other things I didn't really want to work around and also within a few years the tree got scab really badly. It was so sick that it has now been removed and I'm thinking of replacing it with a crab apple for blossom, but to leave the fruit for the birds hence removing the need to get to the tree in late summer. There would be a weigela and philadelphus behind it with some roses and mixed herbaceous perennials around and in front of it, including peonies, nepeta, eryngiums, verneba bonariensis and echinops. I'm thinking I would still be able to get to the tree for pruning as everything else would have died down by then. But would I HAVE to prune it at all? Any thoughts / criticisms would be gratefully received before I commit to buying said crab apple! 


  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,137
    In my experience birds ignore crab apples and they end up falling and rotting.   My two John Downies also needed pruning to keep to shape and remove the odd frosted twig.

    I suggest instead you go for a small garden tree such as sorbus kashmiriana or a cherry such as prunus serrula which has good foliage colour at either end of the season, attractive blossoms and shiny mahogany coloured bark in winter.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,699
    Depending on the position of the tree, if the Peonies, Nepetas and Eryngiums are not directly under the tree canopy, it will all work. Pruning will be minimal, especially in the early years. After it has established, you can prune/shape the tree in the dormant months when most perennials are still asleep.
  • ThankthecatThankthecat Posts: 421
    Hmm, Obelixx's comment has worried me - I thought that birds would go for crab apples. Not sure I want them all falling on the bed below... I've already got a sorbus in the garden and I'm not sure the same thing wouldn't happen with the cherry (fruit dropping and rotting on the ground)? I guess what I really want is a small tree that will eventually have a canopy above the height of the weigela and philadelphus, that adds interest in at least two seasons and that is as beneficial as possible to wildlife, without being too demanding itself. Or is that too much to ask, lol!
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    I've just put in crab apple hedging and I'm worrying too.
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 11,174
    I would look at an amelanchier - lovely spring leaves, blossom, small fruit later followed by good autumm colouring. It's deciduous, but that would let you plant spring bulbs underneath it. A good all round smallish tree.
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 4,407
    My Amelanchiier was a gift from a bird, so I know it must have fruit, but I have never ever seen any, they must get eaten straight away !
  • DampGardenManDampGardenMan Posts: 1,054
    I think one of the common names for Amelanchier is Serviceberry. And I've also heard Juneberry (this one sounds a bit American to me for some reason). Which all suggests ...
  • ThankthecatThankthecat Posts: 421
    Amelanchier might just fit the bill - thank you Lizzie 27 and Buttercupdays! I like the look of A laevis 'RJ Hilton'; it looks just the right size and habit and will give some much-needed autumn colour, something I totally neglected to think about in my original planting scheme.
  • Consider a weeping Cotoneaster,they are evergreen with loads of berries for the birds and you hardly need to touch them.They have a really neat growing habit,and not too oversized heightwise.
    The whole truth is an instrument that can only be played by an expert.
  • ThankthecatThankthecat Posts: 421
    Thanks Cagzo - Amalanchier has been purchased already but weeping cotoneaster is new to me. I've got a few of the normal form in the garden and really appreciate what good value they are :smile:
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