An Important Plant Decision. How to select a tree?

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.___Joyce Kilmer

Most of our residential properties today are not large enough to accommodate large trees like the stately English Oak or European Beech. I am often asked to recommend small, ornamental trees by my clients. Here you will see a lovely collection of some I have found to be reliable options. When selecting a tree consider these points:

Trees are a big deal. Once planted, they will change the garden around them and become the backbone of the landscape. They are the part of our gardens that will survive beyond us to impress and inspire future generations. On a more practical note, trees cool our beds, borders, and houses in summer; add value to our property; and remove pollutants from the air. In a world where garden space is shrinking, it’s easy to think that there is no room for trees. But landscapes without trees are like rooms without a ceiling. With a little searching, a huge selection of trees can be found that fit nearly any need.

Venus® dogwood, Cornus ‘KN30-8’, Zones 6 to 8, Special feature: Huge flowers. Photo: Marg Cousens/

Before you plant, be sure that you know how tall and wide the tree can grow, how much sun it will need, and what type of soil it prefers. Doing your homework will help you make the best selection. Most of all, though, choose a tree with “wow” factor. Great trees usually have at least one of the following traits: amazing blooms, extra­ordinary foliage color, or incredible texture.

In my work as a designer, probably the most frequent concern my residential clients have is to how to intelligently select a tree for their properties. It can be intimidating for a novice gardener when visiting a local nursery to see all the trees available.

Knock-Your-Socks-Off Trees

Speaking of Dogwoods_


Styrax japonicus, Japanese Snowbell, Adams Ave. at 8th St., 6/20/99, from a slide

Venus Dogwood_