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 Medium Evergreen Tree - Advice Needed! 
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Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2017 10:52 pm
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Location: West Sussex UK
Post Medium Evergreen Tree - Advice Needed!
Hi all, been lurking for a while and decided that while usually I can find answers I'm looking for from old threads, this time I really wanted to get the specific thoughts on anyone keen to offer their wisdom! So hello all! Hopefully we can find a solution to a spot that is proving to be quite a challenge.

I have a sunny spot in my garden that is currently the graveyard of a Cornus Capitata, the spot is as follows;

- Full sun, well in to the late evening in summer. Any sunny day in winter also gives this site full sun.
- Moderate clay soil. Not awful and heavy but definitely a silty clay base with a tough clay subsoil.
- Often is the first spot to dry out in the spring after the winter weather is over
- Average wind is quite low, but when we get a storm, the location in question does take a bit of a gust, not too much in the way of shelter
- Lowest temp I have seen here is around -9 or -10 but that is roughly a maximum low and most winters don't go close to that, but something to be aware of
- Soil is totally exposed to sun and in the summer months, we often get a week or two of 28-32c which dries the soil out very quickly, even with supplemental water
- The gap is 8ft wide and roughly 5ft deep

So that's the location, and as for what I am after, I have spent hours trawling numerous websites to try and find a suitable evergreen tree.

I would like something that is;

- Between 12-25ft
- Evergreen but not something that forms a big dense crown like Osmanthus yunnanensis or Neolitsea Sericea
- Hardy to -10c or lower to be safe
- Doesn't mind getting the occasional winter gale and storm and standing up to 40-50mph winds once or twice a year
- Can handle hot dry soil in the summer and constantly moist soil in winter
- And finally and perhaps most importantly, is safe for pets. Anything that is remotely toxic is a non-starter as we have lots of animals in the garden.

Trees that are definitely ruled out are:

Any Arbutus - We have one that has got absolutely covered in Elsinoë mattiroloanum and will soon be coming out
Hoheria sextylosa - Getting one of these for a different spot in the garden :)
Cornus Capitata - Want something different there
Any Magnolia grandiflora - Have one directly on the opposite side of the garden
Anything with sharp spines or allergen propeties

Some trees that I think might work are:

- X Gordlinia grandiflora
- Magnolia ernestii/lotungensis/delavayi ???
- Gevuina avellana (may be too dry here in the South East?)
- Nothofagus cunninghamii (see above)
- Casuarina cunninghamiana


I know this is a very long first post, but thank you for anyone who fancies giving a bit of advice on this one, it's not an easy spot to fill. I was originally thinking of a Drimys winteri but I think that in reality anything from Chile/Patagonia is not going to like the dry summer soil. The root zone is going to get hot. Crinodendrons would hate it for the same reason I think. There are a few Quercus that seem okay but a lot of them are very dense and also slow growing so am not sure if it is the right genus for the spot. I don't mind helping it establish with some hard work in the first couple of years, but eventually it has to be something that is going to be able to survive without coddling.

Thanks for any help! :)

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Last edited by ACM on Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Feb 24, 2017 7:24 pm
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Post Re: Medium Evergreen Tree - Advice Needed!
Loquat?


Fri Feb 24, 2017 9:46 pm
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Post Re: Medium Evergreen Tree - Advice Needed!
kindredspiritkevin wrote:
Loquat?


I've considered it for sure, but am yet to fully really be convinced it would reach the right height here? In warmer climates it definitely would but am I right in thinking that a lot of the UK Specimens are quite small? I see lots that are low spreading trees, almost like a rhododendron in habit, and it makes me wary of giving it a go. I do like them but I'm just a bit wary of the eventual shape really.

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Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:10 pm
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Location: Redhill, Surrey, UK
Post Re: Medium Evergreen Tree - Advice Needed!
I was also going to suggest Loquat until I saw constantly moist soil in winter. Not sure how it would cope.

Regarding size I have a loquat in the UK that meets your size guide and have seen larger.

Single trunk and multi trunk display different habits. Personally I prefer multi trunk which when mature can have a habit rather like a hard grown Mediterranean fig.

Image

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Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:16 pm
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Location: Mid-West, Ireland.
Post Re: Medium Evergreen Tree - Advice Needed!
I have two Loquats planted in clayey soil, which gets sodden in our wet climate and can get bone hard in the summer. One is spreading and has very, very large leaves as it is in a sheltered position. The other is planted in the "wrong" position as it is totally exposed to South Westerlies in a very open, windy part of the garden: this one has smaller leaves, is not spreading and is growing upright.

A tree, which might suit you is Drimys Granadensis. Despite its origin, it seems to be hardy enough here. Beautiful tree, which is much nicer than Winterii, which is more scraggier.

I know you have ruled out any Arbutus but have you considered Arbutus Marina? That was killed to the ground here in the bad winter of 2010, when our lowest low was -14°C but came back from the roots two years later and is now growing into a stunning specimen. (The two Loquats here survived the -14°C as well.)

Another one to consider is Acacia Baileyana Purpurea. The purple Acacias are our stars of the trees in the garden. Showstoppers.


Sat Feb 25, 2017 5:18 am
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Post Re: Medium Evergreen Tree - Advice Needed!
My loquat doesn't like wind or storms. The branches snap right off due to the big evergreen leafs. But it's a beautiful tree and can be trimmed to your desire (if the wind doesn't trim it for you).


Sat Feb 25, 2017 11:13 am
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Post Re: Medium Evergreen Tree - Advice Needed!
One other downside to Loquats is they shed leaves all year. Not a problem if planted in lawn or the likes but mine's in a bed and under-planted. That said I wouldn't be without it. It takes everything that's thrown at it and is simply lovely all year.

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Sat Feb 25, 2017 11:29 am
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Post Re: Medium Evergreen Tree - Advice Needed!
kindredspiritkevin wrote:
I have two Loquats planted in clayey soil, which gets sodden in our wet climate and can get bone hard in the summer. One is spreading and has very, very large leaves as it is in a sheltered position. The other is planted in the "wrong" position as it is totally exposed to South Westerlies in a very open, windy part of the garden: this one has smaller leaves, is not spreading and is growing upright.

(The two Loquats here survived the -14°C as well.)

Another one to consider is Acacia Baileyana Purpurea. The purple Acacias are our stars of the trees in the garden. Showstoppers.


I have both Loquat and the above Acacia, of the two the Acacia is a real stunner, it has been in flower for over a month, truly gorgeous small tree. I'm not sure how hardy it is, so do your homework. I have just bought another off eBay for the front garden. :wink:

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Sat Feb 25, 2017 12:07 pm
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Post Re: Medium Evergreen Tree - Advice Needed!
BTW your Loquat looks stunning Keith.
My Loquat is planted in heavy clay, full sun and exposed to the S-W wind. It's growing tall and narrow, but I think it's caused by a lack of light in the summer due to the Musa and Canna Musafolia that's growing right next to it. Mine is just 4 years old and about 10ft (3m) tall, bought as a small twig 1.5 ft tall.


Sat Feb 25, 2017 2:24 pm
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Post Re: Medium Evergreen Tree - Advice Needed!
I echo Thuur's thoughts there Keith. Yours also perfectly complements your other plantings. Lovely garden!

Whilst they are nice however, I really would only like to give it a try in this spot as a last resort because of the variability in their habits. I also worry a bit that one in this spot with it's large leaves would send it in to orbit during the next 'Storm Doris'.

kindredspiritkevin wrote:
...


That Drimys does look great! How hard are they to get hold of? Googling it seems to indicate it's not one that's supported by the nursery trade too much?

I do like the Arbutus marina but I am a bit wary of the fact that our moist winter soil seems to be a bit of a magnet for fungal leaf spots. Our unedo is going to be taken out in a month or so for that reason. I don't know if x andrachnoides has the same issues but it would be a shame to get a a lovely tree going again only to see it ruined by leaf spot!

The one I keep coming back to in my mind is the x Gordlinia grandiflora. I really like the habit and upright growth it seems to display, and it definitely sounds hardy enough for the UK, but I am not sure about the summer water demands and wind tolerance?

https://www.brokenarrownursery.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/1200x1200/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/x/_/x_gordlinia_grandiflora_habit_in_flower_-_pleasant_run_nursery_-_september_17_2015_426x640_.jpg

One like that would obviously be perfect but there are of course a lot of factors to consider.

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Sat Feb 25, 2017 4:51 pm
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Post Re: Medium Evergreen Tree - Advice Needed!
Thuur wrote:
BTW your Loquat looks stunning Keith.
My Loquat is planted in heavy clay, full sun and exposed to the S-W wind. It's growing tall and narrow, but I think it's caused by a lack of light in the summer due to the Musa and Canna Musafolia that's growing right next to it. Mine is just 4 years old and about 10ft (3m) tall, bought as a small twig 1.5 ft tall.


Thanks to Thuur and ACM.

My Loquat is around 15 ft high and spread although I do have to keep the spread in check to accommodate the planting alongside including the Chamaerops humilis.

In the last few years I've under-planted with ferns which obviously need to be watered more regularly and the result is the Loquat has also benefited.

Image

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Sat Feb 25, 2017 5:01 pm
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Post Re: Medium Evergreen Tree - Advice Needed!
How about Daphniphyllum macropodum?

Fabulous structure but rather slow growing.

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Sat Feb 25, 2017 5:42 pm
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Post Re: Medium Evergreen Tree - Advice Needed!
For something different, although it's a bit "spready" and only gets to 15' tall, have a look at Eucalyptus Macrocarpa. I believe there's a nursery in the UK propagating this now. If I can get one, I think I'd like to try it.

KeithL. I keep looking at your first pic. I think that's the best garden vista (apart from Stourhead) that I've ever seen.


Sat Feb 25, 2017 7:47 pm
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Post Re: Medium Evergreen Tree - Advice Needed!
ACM wrote:
I do like the Arbutus marina but I am a bit wary of the fact that our moist winter soil seems to be a bit of a magnet for fungal leaf spots. Our unedo is going to be taken out in a month or so for that reason. I don't know if x andrachnoides has the same issues but it would be a shame to get a a lovely tree going again only to see it ruined by leaf spot!


My experience with Arbutus unedo is that it is impervious to nearly everything. But I have a dry garden and it's in a dry spot, dealing with a lot of competition. My former partner's parents had a really big one growing in very moist soil in a mixed-species hedge, near Petersfield in the South Downs. So it copes with chalk as well.

A. x andrachnoides is fussier. It doesn't like root disturbance and is susceptible to soil fungi. I grew one in the 90s at my old place in central London - another very dry garden - for about 7-8 years and it was turning into a fine tree, but a gale knocked it at a 25º angle. I propped it back up and staked it, but it declined from that point and died a few years later.

From everything I have read, especially here, A. 'Marina' is the cv. of choice, being flexible as to growing conditions and very attractive. The ones I am familiar with are the original ones in the Marina district of San Francisco, which I admired in 2001 and 2003 when I visited the Bay Area. If I were planting an Arbutus again, I would choose 'Marina', but I needed to plant a tree to comply with a planning condition (having removed a large, diseased Ash tree) and I had a 1.6m tall A. unedo in a pot on hand.

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Sat Feb 25, 2017 7:56 pm
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Post Re: Medium Evergreen Tree - Advice Needed!
kindredspiritkevin wrote:
For something different, although it's a bit "spready" and only gets to 15' tall, have a look at Eucalyptus Macrocarpa. I believe there's a nursery in the UK propagating this now. If I can get one, I think I'd like to try it.

KeithL. I keep looking at your first pic. I think that's the best garden vista (apart from Stourhead) that I've ever seen.


Kevin, many thanks. I'm humbled, as is my small semi detached and very humble garden!

:oops:

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Sat Feb 25, 2017 7:58 pm
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