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  3. A Guide to Ornamental Trees for Spring Colour and Blossom

A Guide to Ornamental Trees for Spring Colour and Blossom

As the winter months slowly melt away, the world begins to awaken from its slumber. Nothing quite matches the sheer joy of witnessing the first buds of a magnolia tree blooming in your garden, nor, the beauty of a tree-lined avenue bursting with the colours of spring. It’s a magical time of year, and there’s no better way to embrace it than by adding some ornamental trees to the exterior of your home. With the right selection of UK-hardy spring flowering trees, you can not only create breath-taking displays of blossoming colours, but also bring new life and energy to your surroundings. To help you choose the perfect addition to your garden, we’ve compiled a list of the most vibrant spring flowering trees that are not only easy to grow and maintain but are sure to leave you enchanted with their stunning beauty.

Syringa vulgaris branches and blossoms against a blue sky

What Makes a Great Ornamental Tree for Spring?

Tree Size

It is essential to identify what makes a great spring-blossoming ornamental tree before we can begin detailing all of the best spring-flowering trees for your garden. There is a tree for almost every garden setting, but which tree is ideal for you? We’ve broken this down into several sections to assist you as you consider which tree to purchase.

Firstly, take into account the available space. Your tree’s long-term success will depend on growing the right plant in the right place. Are there any underground or overhead cables? How close is the allotted space to hard landscaping or buildings? And lastly, is it adjacent to a seating area or a path? The tree will lose its character and shape if you have to prune it because it has grown too large.

Once you have evaluated the site in terms of size, you will know the maximum height and spread that you can allocate to a tree. When looking at potentially suitable trees, always consider the mature height.

Tree Shape

What about the tree’s shape? A columnar or upright shape might work best if there isn’t much space; some trees grow as tall as they spread, so make sure you compare the shape of the tree to the space where it will grow.

Site Conditions

Furthermore, think about the aspect: how much sun will hit your tree? The majority of ornamental cherries prefer sunlight. However, in frosty seasons, some blossoms may be scorched by the early morning sun if they face East. This is true for Magnolia and Camellia, which are all early flowering plants. In addition, avoid trees and shrubs that flower early in the season if your chosen location receives the first sun rays. Early blooms will be better protected if the trees are planted in south or west-facing locations because they’ll get more sun without the intense early morning rays.

Keep in mind the soil and the location. Is it extremely dry, boggy, or free-draining? Rarely do flowering cherries thrive in wet soils. Before making a decision, you should conduct research to determine whether or not a particular variety will thrive in coastal areas or chalky soils.

Tree Colour

At this point, personal preference comes into play. What shade of flower do you prefer? You can find many different shades of colours including pink and purple, as well as white blossoms. There are many different trees in many different colours for you to choose from.

Flower Types

Finally, think about different flower types and their properties. For example, wildlife might be something to think about. Bees and other beneficial garden pollinators find it difficult to get enough pollen and nectar from double flowers because they produce far less.

Checklist for choosing the best tree for you:

✅  What is the maximum size the tree can be to fit your space?

✅  Which shape of tree would you like?

✅  What flowering season is appropriate for the site?

✅  Are there suitable soil and site conditions?

✅  What blossom colour would you like?

✅  Which type of flower is best for you?

Our Top 8 Ornamental Trees

Salix caprea pendula Kilmarnock

“Kilmarnock” is a small, stiff, pendulous tree with yellowish branches with ovate leaves. It also has large, grey catkins with yellow anthers that open before the leaves.
Flowering: Spring
Flower colour: Grey, silver, yellow
Soil: Clay, loam, sand, acid, alkaline, neutral
Where to plant: full sun, south, east, north or west facing Hardiness: H6
Height and spread: 1.5-2.5 meters after 10 to 20 years

Adams Laburnum

A small, spring-flowering deciduous tree that has yellow common laburnum leaves on some of its branches. It also has purple broom leaves on others, with numerous dull yellowish-pink intermediate flowers.
Flowering: Spring
Flower colour: Pink, purple, yellow
Soil: chalk, clay, loam, sand
Where to plant: full sun, west or south facing
Hardiness: H5
Height and spread: Ultimate height 4-8 meters, ultimate spread 2.5-4 meters after 10 to 20 years

Syringa vulgaris

Short intro: A vigorous deciduous shrub or small tree that can grow to about 4 meters in height. It has leaves that are broadly oval in shape and also dark green in color. In late spring and early summer, large clusters of fragrant, lilac-purple flowers are produced before leaves fall later in the year.
Flowering: Spring
Flower colour: Purple
Soil: chalk, clay, loam, sand, alkaline, neutral
Where to plant: full sun, partial shade, east, south or west facing
Hardiness: H6
Height and spread: Ultimate height and spread of 2.5 – 4 meters after 5 to 10 years

Salix Integra – Flamingo Tree

Short intro: A small tree or compact deciduous shrub with striking spring foliage that emerges in shades of pink, white, and green marble before maturing to green. In the spring, yellow catkins appear before the foliage. It is suitable for small gardens as a container or specimen plant and is frequently sold as a standard or “lollipop” tree.
Flowering: Spring
Flower colour: Yellow
Soil: Clay, loam, sand, acid, alkaline, neutral
Where to plant: Full sun, partial shade, east, south or west facing
Hardiness: H5
Height and spread: Ultimate height and spread of 1.5 – 2.5 meters after 2 to 5 years

Magnolia – ‘Satisfaction’

Short intro: A large – but compact – deciduous shrub or small tree with oval-shaped, mid-green leaves that are narrower at the base. Blooms in the shape of a goblet, deep pink at the base, fading to creamy edges. Not only are they beautiful, but they are also fragrant.
Flowering: Spring
Flower colour: Cream, pink
Soil: Clay, loam, sand, acidic, neutral
Where to plant: Full sun, partial shade, south or west facing
Hardiness: H6
Height and spread: Ultimate height and spread of 1.5 – 2.5 meters after 5 to 10 years

Malus – Crabapple

Short intro: A small but vigorous deciduous tree with an ovoid crown and numerous pink-bud-opening white flowers. Then numerous, ovoid, 3 cm long, bright reddish-orange-yellow fruits appear.
Flowering: Spring
Flower colour: Pink, white
Soil: Chalk, clay, loam, sand, acidic, alkaline, neutral
Where to plant: Full sun, partial shade, north, east, south or west facing
Hardiness: H6
Height and spread: Ultimate height of 8 – 12 meters, ultimate spread of 4 – 8 meters after 20 to 50 years 

Prunus triloba

Short intro: A small deciduous shrub or tree. From early to mid-spring, pink bowl-shaped flowers measuring 3 cm across appear on bare branches, before small, red, spherical fruits are produced.
Flowering: Spring
Flower colour: Pink
Soil: Chalk, clay, loam, sand, acidic, alkaline, neutral
Where to plant: Full sun, partial shade, east, south or west facing
Hardiness: H6
Height and spread: Ultimate height and spread of 2.5 – 4 meters after 5 to 10 years

Rhododendron patio tree

Short intro: Finally, we have a large or small evergreen shrub or tree with matt, dark green, 18 centimetre-long leaves and an upright habit. In the middle to late spring, it produces fragrant, loose clusters of six to twelve broad funnel-shaped flowers.
Flowering: Spring
Flower colour: Pink, purple, white
Soil: Clay, loam, sand, acidic
Where to plant: Partial shade, north or west facing
Hardiness: H5
Height and spread: Ultimate height and spread of 4 – 8 meters after 5 to 10 years.

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Updated on April 17, 2024

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