Choosing native trees from seed for your garden is always a wonderful idea. By selecting the right choices you can make sure your garden looks great all year round.
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Why Choose Native Trees?
Native trees in the UK are frequently the plants best suited to growing in your particular garden, since they have evolved to grow well in the specific environmental conditions that you can provide. We have also provided coverage on small trees for the UK that you can also consider planting.
What is more, native species have evolved alongside the wildlife present in your area, and so they are very frequently among the best possible choices for a wildlife-friendly garden. Native trees are wonderful for wildlife.
Native trees are also great for providing visual appeal, and beauty that endures throughout the seasons. By choosing a range of native trees and other native plants for your garden, you can ensure that you have vibrant seasonal colour every month of the year.
If you make the right choices, you can enjoy seasonal colour in spring, summer, autumn and winter – and never have to worry about looking out on a bleak and dreary space.
Which Native Trees to Choose
To help you choose native trees for seasonal colour, here are some of the best options to consider…
Best Native Trees for Spring Colour
In the spring, native trees can provide beautiful sights such as blossom or catkins, as well as delighting the eye as their leaves burst forth and unfurl. Some of the native trees that provide seasonal colour at this time of the year include:
- Bird cherry
- Crab apple
- Guelder rose
- Silver birch
- Wayfaring tree
- Wild cherry
Best Native Trees for Summer Colour
In the summer, of course, everything looks lush and green and there is no shortage of seasonal colour in the garden in the beautiful green leaves, fruits and berries, etc… But there are several trees that look particularly good at this time of the year as well as during other seasons. These include but certainly are not limited to:
- Bird cherry
- Silver birch
- Wild cherry
Best Native Trees for Autumn Colour
Autumn is a time of vibrant, rich colour, full of russet reds and golds and rich browns. Some of the native trees that really bring the beauty of this beautiful season to your garden with their fruits or berries or colourful foliage of the season are –
- Common beech
- Field maple
- Guelder rose
- Silver birch
- Wayfaring tree
Best Native Trees for Winter Colour
Last but not least, we should look to make sure we have interest for the winter months. Though this is often the least colourful time of year in a garden, introducing these native trees can help us to ensure that our gardens still look great even during the coldest and bleakest part of the year.
- Silver birch
Did you know that you can also grow trees for seeds? Let’s look at each of these options in a little more depth to examine how they bring seasonal colour at the different times of the year.
The alder might not be the showiest of the trees on this list, but its leaves are a lush vibrant green in summer, and reddish brown catkins. And this is a tree that will attract plenty of colourful wildlife to your garden.
Bird cherry, Prunus padus, is at its most stunning in the spring. At this time of the year its a show-stopper – covered with beautiful blossom which has an almond-like fragrance. This blossom is them followed by the fruits, which are beloved of birds but which also look great in a garden.
Blackthorn has clouds of snowy white flowers in the early spring, and then fruits develop and beautiful blue-purple sloes appear by late summer but are ready to pick in late autumn or early winter.
The common beech, Fagus sylvatica, is a large spreading tree that can also be used for hedging. It is a popular choice in part because of the vibrancy of the leaves during the autumn season. The broadly elliptical leaves turn a rich golden copper to russet brown in the autumn months.
The crab apple is a native fruit tree with beautiful blossom in spring. Of course, it also provides interest and seasonal colour as summer progresses and into autumn as the fruits ripen on the tree. This is a relatively small tree that can be a good choice for even much smaller wildlife-friendly gardens.
There are a range of members of the Cornus genus that provide seasonal colour. One native to the UK is Cornus sanguinea, a small broadleaf tree or shrub that can grow up to 10m tall, it is relatively understated for much of the year, though it does have attractive white blossoms. It is in the late autumn and winter months however that this really comes into its own, with is vivid red stems.
Field maples, Acer campestre, are trees known for their autumn colour. These maples may not be quite as vibrant as some of the Japanese acers one can buy, but their leaves do turn a rich golden hue before they fall from the trees in the autumn.
The guelder rose, Viburnum opulus, is a native upright shrub or small tree that grows to around 4m in height. This plant provides seasonal colour over several seasons and is particularly wonderful for wildlife. It has blossom in spring, followed by vibrant berries, and also boasts vibrant foliage in the autumn months.
Hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna, is a well known staple of British hedgerows and one of the first natives to bloom in the spring. Its beautiful white to pale pink blossoms appear in May, delightful to view for us as well as a boon to our native pollinators.
Hazel trees are wonderful trees to have in a garden for a wide range of reasons – one of which is the seasonal colour they provide. They have pretty yellow catkins from late winter through early spring, and female flowers that mature into hazel nuts, and the vibrant green leaves turn yellow before the fall in autumn.
Holly as an evergreen will tend to fade into the background during the rest of the year, but comes to the fore in the winter months when it is one of the few native evergreens we have. Female plants also boast bright red berries amid the glossy green leaves.
The silver birch, Betula pendula, is arguably one of our most beautiful native trees, and it is small enough to work well in many gardens. It provides seasonal colour throughout the year, with its beautiful silvery white bark, catkins in spring, and female catkins that thicken and colour to a deep dark red when wind pollinated in summer…
Attractive throughout the year, the spindle, Euonymous europaeus, is at its most attractive in the autumn. At that time of the year, it boasts russet leaves and astounding pink and orange fruits which are beloved by gardeners and wildlife alike.
Rowans, Sorbus aucuparia, are elegant trees well suited to even modest-sized gardens. They bloom with creamy white blossom in early summer but are at their very best in the late summer and in early autumn when the bright red berries are borne in profusion.
Wayfaring tree, Viburnum lantana, has attractive creamy flowers in tbe spring, and then bears heavy clusters of bright red berries in the autumn months too, giving seasonal interest during both of the shoulder seasons.
Widely considered to be one of the most beautiful native trees, prized for its beautiful spring blooms and its bright red summer fruits, Prunus avium is beloved by both gardeners and the wildlife that shares their space.
Native willows are another category to consider. There are several native willow species that can provide seasonal interest at different times of the year. Some are prized for their large showy catkins in the spring, for example, while others are valued for the vivid hues of their shoots in winter.
Exploring the different native trees can help you understand how you might be able to incorporate these beautiful, useful and wildlife-friendly species into your own garden. If you are a tree enthusiast, we also advice checking out our guide on the best trees for blossoming, and if you are growing fruit trees in your garden and want to keep the fruits you collect safe, consider adding fruit cages, exclusively provided by First Tunnels.
What is the best Rowan tree for autumn colour?
The Rowan tree, also known as the Mountain Ash, is renowned for its vibrant autumn colours and berries. The Sorbus ‘Joseph Rock’ is one of the best Rowan trees for autumn colour. It has bright yellow leaves and contrasting red or orange berries in the autumn, making it a standout in the garden during the fall season.
What trees look good all year?
Several trees offer year-round interest due to their foliage, bark, berries, or structure. Some of these include:
Holly (Ilex): With its evergreen leaves and bright red berries, it’s a favourite for all seasons.
Silver Birch (Betula pendula): Recognized for its white bark and delicate leaves.
Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree): Offers evergreen foliage, spring flowers, and autumn fruits.
Blue Spruce (Picea pungens): Its blue-green needles remain vibrant throughout the year.
Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum): Known for its peeling cinnamon-coloured bark.
Which trees turn red in autumn in the UK?
Several trees in the UK are known for their brilliant red autumn foliage. Some of these include:
Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple): Many varieties of this tree turn a stunning shade of red in the autumn.
Liquidambar styraciflua (Sweet Gum): Known for its star-shaped leaves that turn a deep red or purple in the fall.
Quercus rubra (Red Oak): As the name suggests, it turns a rich red in the autumn.
Nyssa sylvatica (Tupelo or Black Gum): Renowned for its bright scarlet autumn leaves.
Woodland Trust (n.d.) A-Z of British Trees. [online] Available at: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/british-trees/a-z-of-british-trees/ [accessed 29/09/23]
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.