Trees for gardens
The beauty of planting trees is that everyone has a chance to appreciate them - including succeeding generations - not just the gardeners who put them there in the first place.
They also filter dust, generate materials for the garden, add punctuation, focus, seasonality, habitats -and, of course, great beauty.
As with other important partnerships in life, it is best not to fall in love with a tree and select it because it looks drop-dead gorgeous at the garden centre, far better to get to know what it might be like to live with first, before you take the plunge.
A good approach is to identify exactly what you want the tree to do.
Most trees are capable of providing foreground interest to a view; forming part of a group of trees to block out an eyesore; providing a temporary filler; adding shade and so forth. Speed of growth, ultimate height, soil, exposure levels and shape are relevant too.
Having finally chosen your tree, you need to track down a supplier and it is definitely worth thinking carefully about the size to go for.
Transplants, whips or small feathered trees will establish fast. They will overtake expensive large specimens in a few years and you will get a more natural-shaped tree.
Remove all the competition (all grass and weeds) for a circle a metre or so in diameter around the trunk until well established, usually after four years or so. The growth rate will increase by about 70 per cent if there is no competition for moisture.
Water is crucial in the early years, much more so than nutrients. As Hugh puts it, if you grow them from tiny, they will feel like more of your own tree. He tends to nudge them regularly with the secateurs to shape them in the manner of his choosing, snipping off odd bits at any time of year.