24 February 2014 By Matthew Haddon
It is getting to the time of year when life comes back to our gardens and we start to wonder what we should do next.
I don't think you can go wrong by adding a tree or two, if you have the room - and there is still time to get deciduous trees in the soil so their roots can take hold before their leaves burst.
If you want to plant close to your greenhouse though you need to think about the trees' ultimate height as although a little dappled shade may seem like a good idea (saving on white glass shading paint in summer), there is an annually increasing risk of flying branches, and re-glazing is expensive and avoidable! Lower growing, or carefully pruned, trees or large shrubs would be a better bet close by - for example consider framing your greenhouse doors with:
- Topiary box, yew, or hornbeam, shaped into classic cones or pyramids, or perhaps cloud pruned if you are more adventurous with the secateurs, providing both year-round interest and a traditional sense of arrival.
Acer palmatum, a tree whose architectural branches in winter, combined with fine leaves and stunning autumn colour, gives a less formal, but no less impressive, feel.
Step-over or cordon apple trees provide both blossom and fruit
Prunus incisa, the small flowering cherry, which blossoms in early spring and boasts red or purple autumn leaf colour; consider cultivars such as 'Kojo-no-mai" or "Mikinori"
Or perhaps a slightly larger Amelanchier lamarckii, for spring blossom and interesting leaf colour in both spring and autumn, set slightly further away?
But if you don't want to plant trees outside then what about inside the greenhouse itself?
Here there is plenty of scope to grow something special. Containerised fruit trees make good sense in most circumstances as they grow slowly, their constrained roots encourage fruiting (providing you also select a self-fertile cultivar or have more than one), and they can also be moved outside in the summer. This frees up space for tomatoes, seedlings and whatever else you want to grow...
As always in your garden though, only choose to plant something that you want to eat! What about one of the following?
Lemons, oranges or tangerines - grown from seed it can take many years before fruiting occurs but if purchased it should fruit in its first year and you can start enjoying the fruits of your labours - perhaps using lemons in your gin-and-tonic?
Peaches are another possibility although it may be necessary, in heavy fruiting years, to thin fruitlets out so there is one every 5cm. The varieties "Avalon Pride" or “Peregrine” could be just the ticket.
Figs - in mild areas some varieties will survive outdoors, but perhaps Fig 'Rouge de Bordeaux', which both looks and tastes good, might grace your greenhouse whereas it is unlike to survive outside.
So, trees and greenhouses...what could you do this year?
Matt Haddon Gardens is the design practice established by landscape and garden designer Matt Haddon.
Matt is an experienced landscape and garden designer and he writes regularly on design for the Garden Design Journal as well as on wider horticultural matters, for example for the RHS's The Garden magazine. Matt is actively involved in all aspects of each project the practice undertakes and is committed to delivering the best in design and horticulture.
To contact Matthew Haddon and his design practise click here.