Daniel 'Chook' Fowler advises on purchasing and choosing a deciduous tree
At this time of the year in New South Wales, Australia, it may be best to plant trees when they are dormant (because you aren’t as likely to disrupt their growth), so you need to consider if the tree is deciduous. Daniel 'Chook' Fowler is an expert horticulturalists at Greenbourne Nursery to advise you on the appropriate varieties to suit your conditions.
Most of the nurseries throughout our great country would be in the midst of receiving their bare-rooted trees from various suppliers in central and southern zones. These elegantly shaped gifts comprise of both the delicious selection of fruit trees and the wonderfully stunning ornamental deciduous range.
Ornamental deciduous trees
So many magical reasons for growing these, be it the stunning Autumn displays that carry the colours of summer into the new season. It may be the early abundance of brightly coloured blossom that awakens us out of our wintery slumber or possibly the structure and security of strong upright trunks guarded by a sheath of rustic bark. The selections on offer are truly a gift from nature.
“The Ginkgo biloba is a large, slow growing deciduous tree. The common name, Maidenhair tree, refers to the leaves which are a soft green changing to a spectacular clear yellow in autumn.”
Red Maple ‘Autumn Blaze’
“This well-structured and very adaptable tree features some of the best autumn colour of the hybrid red maples. Most useful as a medium to large shade tree.”
Golden Ash ‘Aurea’
“Good medium sized tree suitable for many uses. Reliable autumn foliage and distinctive yellow bark on young branches provide year-round interest.”
Fruiting deciduous trees
“It bursts with vigour as the sun warms, the energy is here. With appetite fed by soil, the bounty is now near”.
So is true of the deciduous fruit tree as it strategically rests throughout the winter. Simply awaiting the change in season so it may efficiently use its energy to reproduce itself. That reproduction is in the form of a seed which more often than not comes with the bonus offering of sweet, delicious fruit. There are many choices available to only mention a few, from the apples, plums, nectarines, peaches and figs. Everyone has a favourite they look forward to each summer.
Golden Queen Peach
“Used for fresh fruit, juice and preserving and cooking. A true favourite for bottling and an excellent eating peach, especially if a firm-fleshed peach is desired.”
Golden Delicious Apple
“Beautiful, medium to large, green-yellow skinned apple. Sweet flavour with a sprightly tang. Used for fresh fruit, cooking and drying.”
“A small growing, bushy rounded shrub, it has brilliant showy red blooms that flower over many weeks followed by large red edible fruit that tend to sweep the branches down in a graceful habit.”
Purchasing and choosing a deciduous tree
If you haven’t done your research prior to going into your local nursery to select your deciduous tree, please do go in with an open mind and with the flexibility to change. You should always consult one of the trained horticulturalists on-site as their knowledge is invaluable. They will run you through key necessities to send you home with the appropriate varieties to suit your conditions. The main circumstances are climate and pollinators.
Your local nursery horticulturalist will be able to recommend appropriate varieties that will perform well in your climate zone. It would be a shame for you to go to all the effort to plant a beautiful tree only for its delightful foliage to be crippled by too much heat or wind exposure in a situation that didn’t match its cultural conditions.
You might risk reducing the optimal foliage colour of certain species because in some areas, the Autumn condition is just too mild. The deciduous fruit trees have very specific ‘chilling hours’ that must occur during winter to enable them to obtain good fruit set in the summer period.
‘Chilling hours’ refers to the total amount of time a fruit tree needs to be exposed to effective winter temperatures to help them break dormancy so they will flower and set fruit normally.
Some varieties require only 200-300 hours through winter at low temperatures whereas others require over 1000 hours. Your local nursery horticulturalists will be able to guide you in the right direction.
With regard to deciduous fruit trees, it is important to have the appropriate pollinators available to enhance the quantity of fruit your trees will yield. Without getting too complicated about pollination (we can have that discussion in-depth on another occasion), we can break it down into two groups:
Self pollinators, trees that are in this category are able to successfully produce fruit on their own. They do not require a second tree to achieve pollination. Examples include most peaches and nectarines.