Using Trees and Shrubs in the Garden, Part 2


In the first part of this post, I discussed the more functional things to consider when adding trees or shrubs to your landscape.  Today we’ll focus on various benefits to consider.  For instance, do you want to enjoy flowers or fragrance in the spring or summer, changing foliage colors in autumn, or fruits that to can enjoy seasonally?

Whilst I have warned you about some of the selection challenges involved in garden planning and design, here at Tesselaar Plants, we’re working to make this planning process a bit easier for you.  During our ongoing plant trials and selection process, before introducing a new plant, we think about many of these challenges and create a check list to make certain it is capable of meeting the challenge.

feature plant

Fairy Magnolia ‘Blush’ is a perfect hedge plant, boasting gorgeous blossoms in early spring.

One of my favourite introductions that I am now working out how to incorporate in my own garden is the Fairy Magnolia®. This plant serves a wide range of the functions described earlier (flowers, fragrance, beautiful structure, and more) .  It’s one of the most versatile plants to incorporate in the garden because it can be used as a hedge, positioned near the house or patio to take advantage of its fragrance, or planted in the garden as a backdrop to the garden beds so you can simply enjoy the flowers and foliage.

Another is the Jury range of Magnolias which have been selected not only for the magnificent blooms they show during winter at a time when the garden is looking drab (the flowers on Felix® Magnolia are around the size of a dinner plate), but they also flower as young plants.  Selections such as Burgundy Star™ have been bred to be particularly narrow in structure so they are ideal for small spaces, close to the house, or as a framework along driveways.

feature plant

A single blossom on Felix Magnolia – incredible!

There is also our Baby Grand which is an Evergreen Magnolia (somewhat similar to  Little Gem) but what is unique about this plant is that unlike Little Gem, this is truly compact and grows only to about 12’ high.

This blog is not about being an infomercial for our products but the reality is that we’ve brought all of these plants to the consumer market because first and foremost, they fit the key considerations that are important in planning the backbone of a garden.

garden structure

An assortment of large and small shrubs, including Fairy Magnolia in the left foreground, provide early color to this garden.

As noted in the beginning, it’s really important to get this part of the planning process correct.  Changing trees or shrubs is not as easy (and inexpensive) as moving a perennial or small shrubs to enhance a garden which is an ever-changing entity.

trees for garden structure

Felix Magnolia in foreground, with brightly colored Wattle trees in the background in this very early spring garden. Wattles are the national tree of Australia.

As a quick review, when using trees and large shrubs to give your garden structure, remember that they can:

  • Serve as feature plants
  • Work as hedges that separate elements of the garden or provide a framework along drives or pathways
  • Be positioned to take advantage of their shade, fragrance or flowers
  • Serve as a simple layered backdrop for your  garden beds
  • Provide structure in the garden

There are probably a multitude of other uses that I haven’t even thought about.  However, it’s always important to make note of what you want to achieve in using trees and large shrubs as the backbone of your landscape, and to remember that these decisions can be the make-it or break-it of garden design.

Happy Planting!





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2 Responses to Using Trees and Shrubs in the Garden, Part 2

  1. Kate December 5, 2013 at 4:25 am #

    That Felix Magnolia is spectacular! It’s about the size of a palm.

  2. Graciebelle December 5, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

    This really gives us something to think about as we plan a new area we’re adding to our gardens this spring. Thanks!

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