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Trees for the Small Garden: How to Choose, Plant, and Care for the Tree That Makes the Garden Special

Trees for the Small Garden:  How to Choose, Plant, and Care for the Tree That Ma
Simon Toomer
Timber Press
Publication Date: 

cloth, 176 p., $29.95

A professional arborist and curator of the National Arboretum, Westonbirt, in the U.K., Simon Toomer has long experience and broad knowledge of forestry. In this book Toomer provides the reader with information on how to choose and care for the right tree for a site. He has selected a collection of choice small trees (less than 33 feet at mature height) that are available in Britain. Listed alphabetically by botanical name, each species, variety, or cultivar is described briefly, and the facts about individual requirements for soil and sun, degree of cold hardiness, and native origin are noted. The author’s broad acquaintance with this category of plants is evident in his comments. He reveals not only the several desirable forms of a tree that are available and their possible uses, such as for windbreaks, but also any negative aspects, such as potential invasiveness to other plantings.

This book is one of the best-illustrated guides to selecting trees. The author provides individual photographs of the habit that is the mature form of each selection. In addition, there are photographs of significant features, such as foliage, flower, fruit, and bark. The book gets high marks for its reference section of trees with notable desirable features in flower, fruit or cone, foliage, fall color, attractive bark, and winter interest.

However, as with similar publications from the U.K., readers should recognize that many of the author’s selections are not available in the United States. The cold hardiness ratings that he has given are questionable where plants may have greater exposure in unsheltered locations. Similarly, American readers should be advised to follow instructions of local authorities for planting care, as they have greater familiarity and knowledge of existing environmental conditions.

— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden