Fast Growers

Alder (Alnus Glutinosa)

A British native, the Common Alder is a fast-growing hardy tree that can reach to between 20 - 30m (60 - 100ft). Thriving in most soil types, it flourishes in heavy soil, preferring moist and damp locations, making it an ideal choice around rivers, lakes or low lying and exposed wetland.

With young trees up to 5yrs growing around 1m per year, the Alder needs good light and won’t tolerate shady locations. With its seeds providing a good source of food for wildlife, the Alder can produce male & female catkins during spring, turning to small cones in autumn, while keeping its dark green leaves well into winter.

Ash (Fraxinus Excelsior)

Widespread throughout Europe, the Common Ash is well established in the milder climates across the British Isles. Typically growing to heights of 18m (60ft) or beyond, it does well in well-drained, moist soils, particularly those which contains chalk or limestone, and requires full sunlight.

Recognisable for its black buds in winter, Ash flowers appear dark, almost purple in colour in early spring. However, it’s usual for the leaves to open later in the spring, while falling earlier in the Autumn, often while still green. Due to their potential full size, Ash trees require open space and suit woodland or large gardens.

Goat Willow (Salix Caprea)

A UK native, the Goat Willow, also known as Pussy Willow, is a large, hardy shrub that typically grows to around 6m (10ft), although can grow higher in the right conditions. It’s tolerant of most soil types including heavy clay, and prefers planting where the environment is damp and moist, such as woodlands, and open land near rivers.

After flowering early to provide a good source of pollen and nectar for bees when other trees and shrubs can’t, the catkins of both male (short and grey) and female (long and green) appear in early spring. The capsule-like fruits contains tiny seeds which are dispersed by the wind.

Grey Willow (Salix Cinerea)

The UK native Grey Willow is commonly found in low-lying, wetland areas such as woodlands, marshes, as well as near rivers. Reaching heights of around 10m (30ft), it’s certainly well suited to fairly moist and well-drained positions and grows well in most soil types.

The Grey Willow is a rich source of nectar for bees and other pollinators, as well as being good for other wildlife. In spring, male catkins are silver before appearing to turn bright yellow as they become laden with pollen. The female catkins appear green, before maturing in summer. Its seeds are wrapped in white cotton-like fluff which are dispersed in the wind.

Rowan (Sorbus Aucuparia)

A well known and small to medium tree, familiar in gardens everywhere, the Rowan is a hardy, undemanding and vigorous grower that thrives in open and sunny positions. Coping well in a variety of soils, it can reach heights of up to 15m (50ft), but is easily pruned to control growth and shape.

The Rowan also has high wildlife quota attached to it. Blossoming between April and May, its clusters of off-white flowers provide pollen for bees and many insects. The bright red berries that appear from August to October are an important and rich autumn food source for many birds. The Rowan also provides classic autumnal leaf colours before falling.

Silver Birch (Betula Pendula)

An easily recognisable tree, the Silver Birch is common throughout the UK. It can reach heights between 12 - 20m (40 - 65ft), making it a natural and distinctive choice for large ornamental gardens and parks. It’s fast growing, up to 1m (3ft) per year, if given its ideal conditions of full sun and deep, well-drained soil. It won’t tolerate shade, though it can cope well on most soil types.

Though delicate looking with its dropping branches, it’s a hardy tree and can withstand exposed areas. Flowering with catkins in April - May, its light green, heart-shaped leaves turn a rich yellow before falling in the autumn, while its distinctive silvery bark will ‘split’ as the tree ages.

Wild Cherry (Purnus Avium)

Famed for its fine display of pinky-white, sweet blossom in April and May, the Wild Cherry is certainly an ornamental tree. Capable of growing between 10 - 20m (30 - 65ft) in a sunny position, this medium to large tree is well suited to most soils, particularly those of a chalky or sandy constitution. North facing positions are best avoided.

With its fabulous blossom appearing in April/May, the eagerly anticipated black cherry fruits ripen through July and August. Edible and delicious for us as well as many birds and assorted wildlife, they’re a favoured food source. It provides another fine display in autumn as its leaves turn a delightful blend of gold and russet.

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