Thoughts and musings
Stuart | October 20, 2013 | 0 Comments
‘Native’ means that these trees are ‘at home’ in Britain: they’ve grown here for thousands of years! So if you live in the UK, plant these trees because they help native insects and other animals to survive.
Alder, Alnus glutinosa
Planting an alder is a great way to invite birds and insects to live in your garden. These trees grow fast and love damp soil. In the winter, male catkins and female cones dangle from the branches. Its timber was used
as a lure for woodworm, which would prefer to eat away at a block of alder wood placed in a wooden cupboard than the cupboard itself.
Ash, Fraxinus excelsior
For the Vikings, their ‘world tree’ was an ash: Yggdrasil united heaven, hell and earth. Many pagans saw the ash as a healing tree, and used it in ceremonies and treatments. The wood is very springy and can withstand sudden shocks, so is great for snooker cues and hockey sticks.
English oak, Quercus robur
Oaks grow all over Britain, but why not grow one of these huge, solid beauties in your garden? They’re the best at attracting insects (who’ll help to pollinate other plants in your garden) and can live for over 500 years.
Hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna
The hawthorn is also known as the May tree, and you’ve probably seen loads of its beautiful white flowers blooming in the month of May. Used in spring ceremonies, this tree also has more practical uses and its berries are thought to benefit the heart and to lower blood pressure.
Hazel, Corylus avellana
If you grow a hazel, you can look forward to harvesting the tasty nuts and perhaps sharing them with garden friends such as squirrels and dormice. The catkins that grow on hazels also look pretty cool – they’re known as ‘lamb’s tails’.
Holly, Ilex aquifolium
You’ll love harvesting holly from your own garden at Christmas, and the birds will love you for providing shelter and a plentiful source of food in the berries. There’s nothing like seeing the red berries and the shiny, spiky leaves of holly to brighten a dark, cold winter’s day.
Rowan, Sorbus aucuparia
This used to be planted outside houses to ward off witches, but you might like to plant one simply because it’s a lovely tree with bright red berries! It can even survive on high and exposed ground.
Silver birch, Betula pendula
If you want to make a quick impression on your garden, try this fast-growing pioneer species with its slightly shiny silvery-white trunk. Its timber is used to smoke haddocks, among other things, and its trunk can be tapped for sap that can be made into wine.
Small-leaved lime, Tilia cordata
Although you won’t get green lime fruits from this tree, it is one of our most beautiful native species. You can eat the leaves in salads, and brew a pleasant, uplifting tea from the flowers.
Willow, Salix sp.
These graceful trees survive in the dampest of places, so will suit a water-logged or riverside garden. They also have their fair share of folklore – the words ‘witch’ and ‘wicked’ come from the same word as ‘willow’.