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5 fast growing shade trees

House & Garden logo House & Garden 5/01/2022 Homes To Love

City gardens are shrinking, but we all need trees: for shade, as focal points, to attract birds, and for the well-being of the environment and ourselves. There's nothing better than seeking out a cool spot in the shade beneath a tree on a hot summer's day or popping out to the courtyard to grab a fresh lemon from a potted citrus tree.

No matter what kind of space you have available, there are so many benefits to having trees and you can rest assured there will be a variety out there to suit your needs. Whether you are looking for something that will provide shade to a small garden or just something that will give your garden that lush, evergreen look, here are five fast-growing options, and instructions on how to plant them.

1. MAGNOLIA 'TEDDY BEAR'

This magnolia tree has glossy deep-green leaves with a bronze reverse, which grows into a compact, upright tree at just four metres. It displays large white, fragrant flowers in the warmer months. Use the 'Teddy Bear' as a feature tree or informal garden screen, or even in large planters. 
It grows in most climates – even coastal conditions – but loves regular water and will lose its lushness if it gets too dry.

a plant in a garden: Photo: Nick Watt / bauersyndication.com.au © Provided by Are Media Pty Ltd Photo: Nick Watt / bauersyndication.com.au

2. JAPANESE MAPLE

Delicate leaves and glowing autumn colour make the Japanese Maple a worldwide favourite. They suit cooler climates, ideally with rich, well-drained soil and protection from the hottest sun and winds. The coral bark maple (Acer 'Sango Kaku') variety is particularly loved for its bright red bark in winter and upswept branches that grow up to five metres tall. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from, including the 'Seiryu' which has a similar form but deeply dissected, lacy leaves, and the 'Atropurpureum', which reaches a height of four metres, and adds interest with bronze-purple foliage in summer.

a green plant in a garden: Photo: Brent Wilson / bauersyndication.com.au © Provided by Are Media Pty Ltd Photo: Brent Wilson / bauersyndication.com.au

3. TAHITIAN LIME


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There are many things to consider when choosing a citrus tree, and Tahitian limes do best in warmer climates. They bear scented white blossoms as well as fruit, and have a lovely, rounded shape which grows 
to around three metres high. This tree needs a sunny, protected position and well-drained, rich soil. Apply organic-based fertiliser monthly and keep it well watered and mulched, especially when fruit is forming. Limes can be grown in pots, with top-quality potting mix; but mature trees need a pot at least 60cm in diameter.

a close up of fruit on a branch: Photo: Getty © Provided by Are Media Pty Ltd Photo: Getty

4. CERCIS 'FOREST PANSY'

For a spectacle in any season, this pretty five metre-tall tree, also known as purple redbud, ticks all boxes. Large, heart-shaped leaves emerge purple-red in spring, and turn purple-tinged green through summer. In autumn they then turn again into gold and apricot before dropping to reveal a graceful framework of branches. 
In early spring, 'Forest Pansy' produces an abundance of small, purple-pink blossoms directly on the bare branches; cool climates have the best autumn colour. Make sure to protect them from harsh winds and, if you can, plant in the ground rather than a big pot.

a large purple flower is in a tree: Photo: Brent Wilson / bauersyndication.com.au © Provided by Are Media Pty Ltd Photo: Brent Wilson / bauersyndication.com.au

5. DWARF FLOWERING GUM

The new Corymbia hybrids are gorgeous. Usually grafted onto robust rootstock so they can thrive outside their native Western Australian locale, they combine masses of super-sized flowers with a small stature. Depending on the variety, colours range from red to orange, pink and white, and heights can be between three and six metres. Birds, especially lorikeets, love the abundant, nectar-filled blossoms, which are followed by huge gumnuts. If you don't want the latter, prune after flowering to conserve
 the plant's energy and keep it bushy.

a close up of a flower: Photo: Simon Griffiths / bauersyndication.com.au © Provided by Are Media Pty Ltd Photo: Simon Griffiths / bauersyndication.com.au

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