No matter how small your garden, there will be a tree that is appropriate in size and habit to suit and what better time of the year to plant than now, during the dormant season?
The structure that a tree or a collection of trees can bring to a space not only creates vertical interest but also a wonderful habitat for all sorts of insects and wildlife. The bark, shape, habit and blooms are so different from species to species and they all have their time and place to shine.
The beauty of being able to plant out in the dormant season, which usually extends from mid-November to the end of March, is that at this time of year they can be planted bare root. Just as the term describes, these trees are lifted from the ground and their roots are bare.
Generally, bare root trees are much cheaper than container grown but this condition only applies to deciduous species (a term describing trees and plants that drop their leaves), whereas evergreen species will be root-balled at this time of year, meaning they will be lifted from the ground with the ball of soil around their roots intact. In both cases, they should be planted as soon as possible after lifting. Container grown trees can also be successfully planted at this time of year. As with bare root and root ball, this assumes that the ground is not frozen at the time of planting.
For the smallest of gardens, if you have a warm sunny wall where there is a border, why not try espaliered fruit trees? You can buy fruit trees that are already trained onto a trellis or canes, they take up very little space and are relatively easy to keep.
No wall or border? Then why not grow a tree in a container? As long as it’s the right size of container, many species are happy to be grown like this, such as Acer Dissectum or a weeping Cherry like Prunus ‘Kiku-shidare-zakura’.
For most small gardens in the North of Scotland, any of the following would cut a dash whether planted as a single specimen or a carefully considered group: Hamamelis Mollis, Betula Pendula ‘Youngii’, Laburnum x watereri ‘Vossii’, Malus ‘Royal Beauty’, Sorbus ‘Vilmorinii’, ‘Joseph Rock’ or ‘Cashmiriana’, Prunus Amanogawa, Acer Griseum, Crataegus Leavigata ‘Paul’s Scarlet’, Euonymus Europaeus, Exchorda Serratifolia ‘White Cloud’, Magnolia Stellata, Syringa Vulgaris.