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Spring blossom tree - clay soil

thedjjjthedjjj Posts: 84

just after some help finding a tree for my back garden. 

I have clay soil, full sun, and the ideal height of the tree would be something like 4m ish (bigger than 2m at least) and as wide, so not a columnar or vase shape. 

Blossom colour I’d prefer to be white, and autumn colour (if any) yellow. 

Im thinking along the lines of a magnolia or crab apple (butterball?) ? Can anyone recommend any types for this situation ?

behind the view of the tree will be a yellow climbing rose up a standard height fence, with a purple flower clematis, so I’d like the summer and autumn look of the tree to be compatible with these.

Any help would be great !


  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,651
    Do you know if your soil is acidic? It probably needs to be to get the best from a magnolia. Crab apples are less fussy. Butterball is a great little tree.

    Another option would be a Japanese flowering cherry - maybe a weeping type to get the shape you want. They blossom a bit earlier - mine's in full bloom now but the crab apples aren't even thinking about it yet. They tend to orange and red in the autumn.

    Or a yellow berried ornamental rowan which has a flatter shape.
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • thedjjjthedjjj Posts: 84
    Hi Raisingirl,

    Yes the soil is acidic. After having a browse this afternoon I think a crab apple would be preferable for the extra autumn interest and wildlife properties. Have you come across John Downie? 

  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 11,180
    An  Amelanchier might fit the bill, white flowers, lovely spring leaves and good autumm colour.  Another poster commented recently that birds don't seem to eat crabapples and the rotting fruit makes a terrible mess!
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 7,891
    I grow crab apples in heavy clay and they do very well indeed. Nice shaped trees.

    I would probably not choose a John Downie again. The fruits are larger, very pretty and highly recommended for jelly - but I inherited a garden with a problem with pear and apple scab - and John Downie is very, very  susceptible to scab. Consequently the leaves discolour and drop off very early and the fruits are all gone by the end of September.

    Evereste is a good 'doer' for me as is Red Sentinel - neither has succumbed to scab and the fruits last right through till the end of January when the blackbirds and squirrels have a feast. The spring blossom for both is white and usually lasts for a few weeks.

    I've not grown Butterball but it looks good and might be my next pick (just for the different colour). I think there's a red one called "Gorgeous" which seems to have nice large red fruit which also has temptation written all over it!

    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • thedjjjthedjjj Posts: 84
    Hi Topbird,

    What form is your Evereste ? I prefer the look of a multi stem as I think it gives a bigger mass of colour, but for practical reasons I think I will need a standard (I'd like to be able to walk under without doing a limbo and to also see the fence/climbers that will be growing behind it's view). However, I do want it to spread out a little. I need to cover around a 6m spread, so I was thinking 2 might be sufficient. The same variety for consistency do you think? Would it look odd to have 2 separate varieties (two different trees possibly?) next to each other?

    As well as for the blossom, a bonus of them for me is a bit of screen from overlooking properties. I know they'll be leafless in winter, but we wouldn't be in the garden much then anyway so it's no big deal. 
  • If you want to keep the size down and want multi stems how about one of the dogwoods which have lovely coloured stems if cut back each year. Crab apples can grow into quite tall trees with a single trunk.
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 7,891
    All my crab apples are a standard single-stem lollipop shape. They are 4 years old and currently about 2.5m high and 1.5 - 2m wide. They will grow quite a bit more.

    They are deciduous, so no screening in winter - but they are usually smothered in fruit. So, a degree of screening and lots of colour and winter interest. The only ‘boring’ months are Feb and the beginning of March.

    I don’t think it would look odd to have different crabs next to each other so long as the colours work - but it depends on your taste and your garden. Evereste & Butterball could be ok together - Evereste is a lovely yellowy orange. If you’re unsure about putting 2 crabs together you could consider a crab and an ordinary apple tree for fruit (crabs are good all round pollinators). Or a crab and an amelanchier - which can be either a multi stem shrub or a tree. 
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
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