Spring blossom in the Lyth Valley, Cumbria

How To Choose Trees To Give You Spring Colour In The Garden

Spring blossom in the Lyth Valley, Cumbria

Add a flowering tree to the spring garden for impact and year-round interest

Add another dimension to your garden in spring with a flowering tree; there is one to suit even the smallest garden. Prunus 'Kojo-no-mai' is a tiny flowering cherry which will live quite happily in a container on a sunny patio. Incorporate Viburnum opulus or an ornamental crab apple into a native hedge to give the birds a feast in autumn, and yourself delicious crab apple jelly for your breakfast toast. The crab apples give gorgeous blossom in spring, fruits and vivid leaf colour in autumn so are well worth a space in any garden. Ornamental flowering cherries also have more interest than just the spring blossom; fantastic leaf colour in autumn and some have lovely tactile bark.

Prunus 'Kojo-no-mai'

Prunus 'Kojo-no-mai'

Acacia dealbata (Mimosa)

This beautiful large shrub/small tree is probably best grown in the south of the UK as it is not fully hardy and does require protection from frost and wind.

  • Tree, evergreen
  • Plant: spring
  • Flower: January – April
  • Flower colour: yellow
  • Soil: neutral – acid; well drained; fertile
  • Where to plant: shrubbery; container; stand-alone specimen
  • How to plant: dig in plenty of organic matter when planting
  • Food and water: keep well watered in the first year after planting until it becomes established; feed in spring with tree and shrub fertiliser
  • Aspect: sun
  • Hardiness: tender, may survive winter planted outside in a sheltered position in the south of the UK which receives no frost or wind otherwise plant in a large container and bring indoors for winter
  • Height and spread: 15 x 6m (49 x 20’); planting in a container will restrict the size
  • Tips: not a tree for the beginner as needs care in winter

Cercis siliquastrum (Judas Tree)

This gorgeous tree needs a large space as it does reach a substantial height and spread; it also needs to be fairly sheltered and in full sun. But for a sheer spectacle of a huge mass of pink in spring this can’t be bettered.

  • Shrub, small tree, deciduous
  • Plant: October – May, if soil conditions are right
  • Flower: March – April
  • Flower colour: pink
  • Soil: any, well drained, moisture retentive
  • Where to plant: shrubbery; stand-alone specimen
  • How to plant: dig in plenty of organic matter when planting
  • Food and water: keep well watered the first year after planting until it becomes established; feed in spring with a tree and shrub fertiliser
  • Aspect: sun, partial shade, sheltered south facing
  • Hardiness: hardy
  • Height and spread: 12x 9m (39 x 30’)
  • Tips: needs as much sun in summer as possible to ripen shoots which produce the following years flowers; plant in the right place as dislikes being moved; heart shaped leaves turn yellow in autumn

Magnolia

If you only have a small garden Magnolia stellata would be ideal as it usually only reaches a height of 3m (10’) and has beautiful star-like white flowers. The larger flowered varieties need a fairly large space as they can reach a height of 10m (33’).

  • Shrub or small tree, evergreen and deciduous
  • Plant: autumn – spring, if soil conditions are right
  • Flower: spring – early summer
  • Flower colour: white, light and dark pink, blackcurrant, lemon
  • Soil: acid to neutral, well drained, moist
  • Where to plant: in a large border; as a stand-alone specimen; needs sheltered site

Magnolia watsonii

Magnolia watsonii

  • How to plant: dig in plenty of organic matter when planting
  • Food and water: water well the first year until it becomes established; keep well watered in summer otherwise it will drop the buds and won’t flower the following year; feed with tree and shrub fertiliser in spring
  • Aspect: sun, partial shade
  • Hardiness: some varieties not fully hardy, and some tender
  • Height and spread: 2 – 15m (6.5 – 50’) x 3 – 10m (10 – 33’)
  • Tips: best grown against a wall for shelter; buds are very susceptible to frost damage so will need protection if frost is forecast; shallow rooted so make sure you don’t disturb the soil around the tree, with a mature tree the roots can extend further than the canopy

Magnolia soulangiana lenii

Magnolia soulangiana lenii

Malus sylvestris (Ornamental Crab Apple)

These ornamental crab apples have everything; flowers in spring; autumn colour from the leaves and small fruits which make delicious crab apple jelly. They are also an important nectar source in spring. If planting a hedge for wildlife add one of these trees to give some height.

  • Small tree, deciduous
  • Plant: autumn – spring, if soil conditions are right
  • Flower: spring – early summer
  • Flower colour: pink, red, white
  • Soil: any, well drained, moisture retentive
  • Where to plant: in a large border; as a stand-alone specimen
  • How to plant: dig in plenty of organic matter when planting
  • Food and water: water well the first year until it becomes established; keep damp; feed with a tree and shrub fertiliser in early spring
  • Aspect: sun
  • Hardiness: hardy
  • Height and spread: 12 x 8m (39 x 26’)
  • Tips: some also have good autumn colour; the crab apples make fantastic jelly

Malus sylvestris 'Gorgeous' blossom

Malus sylvestris 'Gorgeous' fruit

Malus sylvestris 'Gorgeous'

Prunus (Flowering Cherry)

This is another one of those trees which give interest over a couple of seasons; gorgeous blossom in spring and good autumn leaf colour. Some also have a bonus of small fruits in autumn, which are loved by the birds.

  • Shrub, small tree, deciduous
  • Plant: autumn – spring, if soil conditions are right
  • Flower: late winter – late spring
  • Flower colour: white, pink
  • Soil: any, well drained, moisture retentive
  • Where to plant: in a large border; as a stand-alone specimen
  • How to plant: incorporate plenty of organic matter when planting
  • Food and water: water well for the first year until it becomes established; keep damp; feed with a tree and shrub fertiliser in early spring
  • Aspect: sun
  • Hardiness: hardy
  • Height and spread: 60cm – 9m x 60cm – 9m (2 – 30’) depending on species
  • Tips: the best variety for growing in a container is ‘Kojo-no-mai’; many species also have good autumn colour; Prunus serrula has lovely shiny mahogany bark

Prunus 'Kansan'Prunus 'Kansan'

If you want more information on what to plant for spring colour just get in touch with our gardening team here in store in the Outdoor Plant department.

Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas