Aloha my friends!

Right now I am in Kauai, one of the main Hawaiian Islands, enjoying a two weeks holiday. But because I can’t stay without all of you, I am taking a moment for writing these few lines.

Nature here is amazing: anything grows lush and terribly sexy; the jungle still looks primitive and untouched. Plants are silently engaged in an everyday fight for space, light and nutrients.

When I walk in the jungle I can feel my real nature coming out: a black panther crossed with a gazelle. I feel like I am the most bangable creature on the planet.

Ok, maybe the reality is more like this:

I am very agile when I swim in the Ocean…

The inspiration for this article comes from what I am seeing in these days: native untouched trees and how beautiful they become when they get the right conditions and space. Plants express their potential when they grow showing their full size and shape.

So, please, feel guilty because instead of enjoying the warm sun on a golden beach I want to tell you about one of the most important aspects in garden design: how to choose the right tree(s) especially if it has to be a feature.

Maybe you haven’t already thought about it, but I can assure you that the right choice makes a big difference in the garden. Recently a friend, Selma, was telling me about her struggles in the making of her garden: especially at the very beginning, 20 years ago, she didn’t have any skills in gardening or design, so she ended up hiring a garden designer. One of the things she’s more proud about what he did it’s the tree he chose: now it’s mature and it has reached exactly the size and the shape it was selected for; the tree fits like a glove in the garden and it’s the envy of the neighbourhood.

One of the most common mistakes I often see when I visit gardens (that I haven’t designed) it’s wrong trees planted in wrong spots…this literally drives me mad and I wanna cry every time. I am sure that they looked cute when the garden was made because there was nothing there except for small young plants. So dumb Carlo thought it was perfect to plant a tree next to the house or next to other plants, because it all looked very empty. What dumb Carlo didn’t think about is that plants grow and what looks cute maybe won’t be so cute anymore in 10 or 20 years.

Here in Kauai I am staying in a fancy resort; the garden is a golf court surrounded by trees. In particular, from my window I can see a group of four plants that were planted so close to each others that now they look like just a mass of different foliage with no shape. Four potentially beautiful trees just wasted.

A wrong choice it doesn’t just affect the aesthetic of your garden: if the tree doesn’t have enough space to grow, it might get more vulnerable to diseases and become fragile and dangerous; if the space is limited, you might need to prune it and contain its growth: apart from compromising the shape, periodic cuts can affect the health and the stability of the plant.

If you want to avoid all these problems just consider these aspects:

1. How much space you have for a tree in your garden
2. Which shape suits your composition
3. Do you need evergreen or a deciduous foliage?
4. In 20 years what does the tree need to look like?

When I choose a tree, apart from knowing which kind of soil I am dealing with and what can grow in it, I always start from how much space is available: for example, recently I designed a garden where I needed a tree with a maximum diameter of 3/4 metres. It had to be evergreen because I needed screening for privacy purposes. Also, an oval shape suited well my composition.

I jumped on the website of a nursery called Speciality Trees: it’s really well made because every plant is described extensively, including information related to the shape and the mature size. They are located in Australia, but if you are in US for example, a website that I like it’s Monrovia. If you have some interesting sources feel free to add them in the comment section below.

Before I make my choice, I need to know what’s the maximum size the tree can get, and this information is given by knowing the mature size. For my project I chose a variety of Magnolia, ‘Little Gem’, an oval tree with dense evergreen foliage and mature size of 6×3 metres.

Always check these information about the trees you want to plant in your garden otherwise you could end up by having a plant that grows too much (or not enough) and that can make your garden a total mess instead the paradise you’re tryingo create.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the article: drop me a line to tell me your thoughts or share your struggles.

Ciao!

Carlo