04 Dec 2021

Gardening: Choose trees to add magical light and shade to your garden

With Jo McGarry of Caragh Nurseries

Gardening: Choose trees to add magical light and shade to your garden

As we approach autumn, it’s a perfect opportunity to add to your garden any trees or hedging plants that need replacing. They’re vital additions because trees add height and scale to the rest of your planting. Even in a flowerbed or herbaceous border, the canopy and branches add texture and contrast, casting a magical pattern of light and shade, which changes throughout the day as the sun moves round the garden.

Planting trees helps the environment because they gather up harmful carbon dioxide and emit oxygen into the air, acting as the lungs of the garden. They will also add a touch of beauty in the coming seasons, be that flowers, autumn colours, attractive bark or a shapely winter silhouette.

Even one tree can make a tremendous difference to how your garden looks. Planting large and mature trees just speeds up that process. Of course, it is easier and always cheaper to plant smaller trees and we do have lots of young options from 6-7ft tall - but the beauty of a more mature tree is that it has instant appeal. It makes a statement.

Some of our most popular items here at Caragh Nurseries are the specimen trees used for screening. As well as creating structure and seasonal interest in the garden, screening trees provide valuable privacy and can also be used to hide undesirable views. Mature trees, espalier trees and evergreen trees are all ideal for screening naturally.

Whether you want your mature trees for an avenue, to create privacy or just to add beauty to your garden then here are some of our favourites.

Nb. Most of these large and mature trees are grown in our field and as such are only available from November 1 to the end of March, if you don’t see the size you want, do contact us for more details of the sizes on the usual 045 879170 or

Fagus sylvatica Atropurpurea – Purple Beech Tree

The beech is a large but slow growing tree which turns a beautiful copper in late autumn. The purple beech has deep purple leaves that come in spring and turn copper in the autumn, but the tree does hold onto some of these leaves throughout the winter until the new shoots force them to fall. It likes well draining soil and does not reach its full height of 12-15m for 50 years.

Its beautiful colouring and ability to give some winter cover make this a great tree for boundaries, screening or avenues.

Prunus Nigra – Purple Plum Tree

This popular garden and street tree is amongst the first to blossom in spring, with single deep blush-pink flowers followed by dark purple brown leaves and blackish-purple shoots. It is a stunning small tree with a dense mushroom shaped crown, providing good screening and excellent contrast, with a strong red to orange autumn colour. Imagine a copper beech effect, but on a petite scale, with the bonus of spring blossom.

Platanus Acerfolia – London Plane tree

Platanus acerifolia is a beautiful stately sight, particularly in cities. It is a large, impressive tree often growing up to 30m in height. The most identifying feature is the grey bark which sheds in large plates leaving patches of pale green and creamy yellow fresh wood underneath. It does this as a response to pollution which can clog the pores of the bark. Its leaves are large, closely resembling the leaves of a maple. When young, they are covered in thousands of fine hairs which fall off as the leaf grows.

In autumn, the foliage turns yellow and orange before falling. Flowers appear as small balls on long stems in spring, maturing to produce the ‘pom-pom’ seed heads which can be seen on the bare branches in winter. London plane is the ideal tree for urban locations for many reasons. It is tolerant of pollution, soil compaction, drought and heavy pruning.

Prunus Kanzan – Kanzan pink flowering Cherry

Cherries aren’t usually thought of as mature trees but the beauty of planting these trees at a more mature size is that you get to experience the beauty of its spring flowering spectacular on a greater scale much earlier. The Kanzan is a popular hardy double flowering cherry tree with an abundance of bright pink double flowers with a height of around six metres. The leaves uncurl in a deep bronze colour turning green to orange in the autumn.

Use this tree in just about any circumstance, I planted these as an avenue effect up my own driveway but they look just as stunning with one either side of an entrance or dotted along a boundary - or as a one off, showing its glory where you might see it most!

Caragh Nurseries specialises in specimen and semi mature trees. We grow them, we pot them and sometimes we bring them from our partner nurseries in Italy and Holland. We select the best quality specimen and semi mature trees each season, so you, our customers have the best possible available.

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