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Planted small trees, what to grow in between

Hi, I've been redesigning the layout of my garden and decided to plant some trees to give height and some interest, however the ones I could afford are very small, about 2ft in height, so really need to fill the bare space between them with something until they're a bit bigger.

Trees are rowan, hazel, crab apple, bird cherry and a silver birch (I know, they're a mixed bunch but all native and wildlife friendly. 

I thought maybe heathers/low shrubs but worried they would suck all the nutrients/water away from the baby trees.  Thought maybe bulbs/annuals for a couple of years as there will be no shade.  Any advice?



  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 23,094

    Bulbs and annuals are great for that sort of thing. You will have to water the young trees regularly anyway.

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,903

    I'd go for native spring bulbs e.g. the native daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus), English bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) and snowdrops,  Cyclamen hederafolium and some native primroses - they'll naturalise and by the time your trees are biger the bulbs will have settled and it'll look absolutely gorgeous.  They'll not compete with your trees for water etc as shrubs etc would.

    The daffodils and bluebells should be available now to plant 'in the green' which is the best way.  There may still be some snowdrops available 'in the green' as well and native primroses are in the 'wildlife' sections of the garden centres at the moment.  If you want some little Cyclamen hederafolium corms send me your address via a PM (click the link under your name in the top righthand corner of this page) and I'll happily pop some in the post to you. image

    Getting smaller trees is a good thing - they'll suffer from less transplant shock and they'll get growing quickly - they'll catch up with anything bigger planted at the same time.


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

  • Bee witchedBee witched Posts: 1,264

    Hi Susan,

    You might want to try a few things from seed. I've grown Asperula oderata (sweet woodruff)  ....  and it is now romping away under a group of rowans. Viola labradorica is also easy and a good spreader under trees.

    Have a look at the Chiltern seeds website and I'm sure you'll be tempted with a few woodland plants to try.



    Gardener and beekeeper in beautiful Scottish Borders  

    A single bee creates just one twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime
  • SusanM2SusanM2 Posts: 2

    Thanks everyone. Some really good ideas there!

    Dovefromabove I may take advantage of your generous offer once I work out what I'm doing. Thanks.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,903
    Verdun wrote (see)

    Unless,you have a dedicated wildlife area avoid bluebells.  They are aggressively invasive least for me.  Shock! Horror! cos I know bluebells are so loved image


    Verdun, I think that's 'cos you live down there in that Paradise called Cornwall where anything and everything grows - up here in the cooler East of England English Native bluebells are not that rampant - however, the Spanish ones are!

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

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,836

    I agree about the bulbs and spring flowers while your trees are small.  They certainly don't want competition from summer perennials like hemerocallis just yet as they'll be as tall as the trees but you could try lower growing hardy geraniums such as macrorhizum when the trees are a bit bigger.  The'll cope with dry shade later on and provide white, pink or cerise flowers in late spring plus scented foliage which turns red in winter.

    Native bluebells are fabulous for a wildlife area and woodland garden and will follow on from the narcissus.  Keep an eye out for some wood anemones (just flwoering in our local woods) or anenome blanda if you can't find them.

    At the risk of abuse because they both spread when happy, try wild garlic which is at its best about now and will provide leaves to make pesto and herby butter for your kitchen and also little violets for a sweeter smell.   

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Tropical SamTropical Sam Posts: 1,488

    Your baby "rowan, hazel, crab apple, bird cherry and a silver birch" will not stay babies for long. Rowan can easily get 6-8ft within a year of planting, same with all the others (does bird cherry mean wild cherry?), so do not expect to have tiny whips for long! If you added feed, lots of water and sunshine and they will rocket up.

  • I've just planted a bramley apple tree which will probably resemble a large stick for a couple of years, so I've planted some strawberries in the same bed. They need replacing every 3 years or so, so the timing should work well. Immediately around the 'stick' I've put in some sweet peas this year. Then, in quiet times, I sit back and imagine the crumbles in years to come!  

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