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In the garden with Jo!

Time to take a new root

In the garden with Jo!

Betula Jaquiemontii with their distinctive white stems

Following on from last week’s column on Kildare Now, on bare-root plants, it's now time for some of the root-balled varieties to shine!

Root-balled plants and trees have been lifted from the open ground with a large ball of earth around their roots, which is then wrapped in hessian, or similar biodegradable material.

These items are planted with the wrapping still in place, causing little disruption to the root structure. Root-balls are generally cheaper than container grown plants and can often establish quicker than bare-root specimens.

The two main categories available in root-ball are those used for evergreen hedging and trees. Evergreen root-ball plants are ideal for establishing a tall hedge quickly, that will provide cover all year around. Few offer the same practical advantages as laurels, since they are fast growing, hardy, and will thrive in most growing conditions. These features make them an obvious choice for garden hedging.

Lovely laurels
Cherry Laurel, or Common Laurel as it’s widely known, is as the name suggests, the most sought after option. Its thick, large, glossy green leaves provide an effective privacy screen with instant impact, if so required. Dense growth structure will also reduce the amount of wind and noise that passes through the area.

Portuguese Laurel, along with the main features mentioned above, provides beautiful contrast, with darker, glossy green leaves against deep red stems. Leaves are slightly more pointed than the rounder common counterpart, and will develop small white fragrant, flowers in spring.

Little red berries develop later in the year although do bare in mind these along with one or two other options are in much demand this year and will become scarce after Christmas when the prices are likely to hike up!
Laurel Etna, also featuring the elements apparent in all laurel varieties, is characterised with a warm, bronze appearance on initial growth, that turns green as it ages into bright, round glossy leaves. Soft, white flowers are produced in spring, progressing to shiny, black berries in Autumn. They also grow wider and resemble more of a spherical shape than upright so great when you want really good cover but they do keep their shape well which is really attractive.

Kanzan or Japanese cherry blossom flowers

Red Robin (below)
We also stock some attractive alternative evergreen hedging that offer similar features to the laurel varieties.
Photinia Red Robin as below makes a spectacular evergreen hedge, with its red, glossy young foliage, and large, rounded heads of ivory flowers. It can cope with hard pruning, so can be trimmed to form an informal hedge or clipped into strong shapes.

More colourful options
Viburnum Tinus Eve Price also provides winter interest in the garden, as its dense, dark green foliage produce flowers from late winter all the way through until spring. Pink flower buds appear first, opening to small white flowers and finally producing small dark berries later in the year.

Rootball trees often establish themselves better than container grown trees, as they have been given a chance to set down stronger roots than they would have in a commercial pot and it is a more economical and ecological way for us to provide you with our trees. Like with the hedging it is almost always better to rootball evergreen trees and we would also recommend anything deciduous from around about 14-16cm girth, around 14-15t tall should be rootballed too.

Pretty double cherry tree
Prunus Kanzan are a popular tree to buy rootballed, as it can withstand transplanting in this form at a semi mature stage. This gives the advantage of substantial growth, without having to wait so long for such an impact. Kanzan is a hardy, double flowering cherry tree will eventually grow to around six to seven metres tall. We have a variety of medium to very large specimens at the nursery.

Himalayan Birch, or Betula Jacquemontii to give it its formal name, is another popular tree sold root-balled. This fast growing tree has a light, open canopy of green foliage that will not block out too much sunlight. Himalayan Birch are hardy and reliable and popular for their stunning bark, which gets whiter and brighter as it ages.

Purple or pink
Prunus Cerasifera Nigra, or Purple Plum is another common root-ball choice and is one of the first trees to flower in spring. Single, deep blush-pink flowers are followed by dark purple brown leaves and blackish-purple shoots. This is a stunning small tree with a dense mushroom shaped crown that provides good screening and excellent contrast. It displays a strong reddish, orange autumn colour similar to copper beech but on a smaller scale, and the added bonus of blossoms in spring.

Whether you need your hedging and trees to carry out a specific function for you in the garden, like create a boundary or provide screening, or if you simply want to create interest that is aesthetically pleasing, your nursery or garden centre can best advise you or feel free to contact me in the usual way
– Jo, email

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