SMALL TREES FOR SMALL GARDENS
Why are trees so important in the fight against climate change?
You already know that, due to climate change, the earth is on the brink of a global extinction event. If we do not halt climate change immediately, the world will change for ever, and most species of plants and animals (possibly including people) will become extinct.
Climate change has been caused by human activity: mainly the burning of fossil fuels to power factories, food production, transportation, and homes. These processes have released massive amounts of carbon dioxide that was previously trapped in the earth, into the atmosphere. The industrial revolution increased the amount of carbon dioxide each person produced and this, together with the huge rise in the total number of people on the planet, has caused the problem.
To stop the climate getting worse, we need to massively reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that we each release (i.e. move towards net zero carbon emissions). But this alone will probably not save us: we need to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere faster than it is being released. This is called negative carbon emission.
The easiest, most effective and natural way to reduce global carbon emissions is to increase the number of trees on the planet. Trees and other plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and lock it away as fibres. Trees have always helped to stabilize the earth’s climate in this way but we have made the recent climate change far worse because, as we started to increase our production of carbon dioxide, we also started to cut down trees far faster than they were able to regrow.
Remember, your planet needs you! So get your spade out now.
What can I plant?
You do not need to feel helpless in the fight against climate change. In fact, if we are to succeed in reversing climate change, everybody must do their bit. Lots of little individual actions add up to success. So plant a tree! Even a little tree in your garden will help. Perhaps one for each person in your household? No need to worry about nearby buildings: it is now thought that the root systems of trees are very unlikely to cause problems.
It's good to plant something that will support wildlife by having spring blossom for pollinators and berries/fruits in the autumn. Examples suitable for small gardens include:
Ornamentals. Serviceberry (e.g. Amelanchier lamarckii), hawthorn (e.g. Crataegus x Mordenensis 'Toba'), Mountain ash (rowan) (e.g. Sorbus ‘Pink Pagoda’), Prunus (cherry) (lots of varieties to choose from), Maple (e.g. Acer griseum, lovely papery bark), Seven-son flower (Heptacodium minconioides, late summer flowering, slow growing). Some magnolias are also suitable.
Fruit Trees. Apple, pears, plums, peach, apricot etc. on dwarfing rootstocks. The most compact and easiest to care for are columnar, supercolumn or patio trees. Cordons are also compact but require careful pruning.
Planting and Aftercare
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) website is a fund of excellent advice and will identify nurseries that have the tree that you want. For further advice, consult your supplier. The Walnut Tree Garden Nursery, Attleborough is a good local nursery and owners who can give a lot of specialist advice on the sort of tree to buy and its aftercare. Trees and information are also available from Wymondham Garden Centre and Besthorpe Plant Centre.
The best time to plant is in the autumn. Aftercare is important: you MUST water your tree frequently during its first year and in dry periods after this. Remove competing weeds from the base of young trees. If you need to prune your tree, you will find lots of advice online (e.g. the RHS website).