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Small trees, dry soil, tiny garden

LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,690
Any good ideas for a small tree? Sorbus would have been the obvious choice for me but I'm concerned the soil is too dry and they'll never look fully happy - I'm noticing a lot of rowans in my area look drought stressed. (Same probably goes for Amelanchier).

Rhus would be ideal but suckers so would need containing. I love Prunus serrula, and think that would like my conditions, but if there was a slightly smaller alternative it would probably be better. I want a 'real tree' so over 12ft; but not absolutely enormous. 
"What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour". 
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  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,940
    edited September 2021
    My favourite tree for a sunny dry spot is the Mount Etna Broom … elegant, gorgeous and a heavenly perfume. 

    Only dappled shade beneath it so grass and other plants don’t struggle in the shade. 

    A lovely thing 


    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.





  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,690
    Thanks for that suggestion, that's really nice. I'll see if you can get larger specimens. 
    "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour". 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,889
    Ornamental pear might be ok - Pyrus salicifolia. I grew it in a previous garden, in a sunny spot, but near the cover of two very mature trees, so the ground was often very dry. 
    Rowans never appreciate getting dry long term, so probably not the best choice, unfortunately. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....



    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,690
    I was thinking along the lines of multistems; I keep whirling back to the Prunus serrula. These are my (vague) plans -

    Past layout:

    Planned layout:


    Now if they would stop growing at about that size, it would be very convenient.

    The thought occurs to me that by then I will have moved house anyway, to somewhere with a bigger garden hopefully... perhaps I can take them with me? ;P
    "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour". 
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,690
    Oh; maybe the answer is to have one tree and let it be a really big one (scaled up to about 6m tall below) - and have a smaller shrub in place of the nearest tree. I have a tree peony I could put there in fact.

    "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour". 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,889
    What about a Magnolia @Loxley? I think they can be quite drought tolerant once established. There's some smaller ones which might suit, and many aren't too fussy about soil pH.  
    Or Elder? 
    Garden's looking splendid  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....



    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • PerkiPerki Posts: 2,504
    Not small trees but can be kept smaller and both have beautiful bark - Luma Apiculata and arbutus unedo both are drought tolerant . I've been eying up some stewartii some are far to big but Stewartii sinensis may fit the bill. I like Cercis particular forest pansy ( not sure if it was you who had one originally ? ) . Coral bark Acers will give all round interest Winter flame is on the small side but Beni Kawa would be ideal will need watering in drought conditions. The cornus family have a great range of trees Eddie White wonder would fit the bill or cloud nine.  Some random ones which may be of interest Witch hazels - albizia julibrissin - cytisus battanderii - Aralia elata / variegated yellow or white - Zelkova variegated another plant I've been eying up for years not sure how well it will do on drier soil though. 

    The bob standard fuschia riccartonii do have very interesting narling bark, if your climate is warm enough they can be trained into multi stemmed shrub removing any lower branches to show the trunk off. 
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,690
    I did have a Cercis! I thought it might be diseased because the leaves were so ropey, and I got rid; looking back on it I was probably too hasty. I found these images on Instagram of Prunus serrula in a small garden. Cornus kousa and Magnolia are under consideration though, thanks for the suggestions.

    "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour". 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,889
    That prunus is certainly  a beautiful tree. There's a house I often pass which has one in a big border running down to their entrance gate. I was admiring it the other day. Lovely  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....



    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Our Sambucus Black Lace has become a small tree, in a matter of only a couple of years.  The beauty of it is that we can prune it to be a small shrub, or even hard prune it each year.  Shrubs that can become trees may be better in  the smaller garden.  

    We planted a Sorbus 4 years ago. It has never been happy and dies back a bit every year from drought stress.  Wish we had planted a shrub instead.  
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