Garden Trees And Lighting – Expert Series

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Using trees and lighting for year round interest  Inge Berrie

Professional Surrey and South London designer Inge Berrie shares her views on using garden trees as well as lighting for maximum year round interest.

Trees are beautiful and graceful in a garden of any size. They add structure and a sense of instant maturity to a garden. Yet, when we think of planting our gardens up, we often forget to include trees in the design. Trees are also useful as they attract beneficial insects and birds into the garden. They also absorb carbon dioxide which helps clean the air.

Lighting a tree effectively creates a beautiful focal point in the garden. Big and small trees can be shown off to their full potential when lit correctly.

For year round interest choose a tree which will perform in each season, for example, interesting bark in the winter, flowers in the spring, attractive canopy in the summer and colour or fruit in the autumn. My favourite small tree is a Prunus subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’ as it blossoms throughout winter into the spring, which constantly reminds me that warmer days are to come. It is an excellent tree for small gardens as it has a light canopy, and fantastic autumn colour.

Trees can also be considered for their ornamental bark which often becomes the focal point in winter after the trees have lost their leaves. Lighting can show off this beautiful feature in all seasons. Prunus serrula is a favourite of mine with its ultra smooth coppery bark running around the trunk in concentric rings. Some people polish the bark to make it shine even more! Acer griseum which is also known as the paper bark maple also has a coppery bark but the interesting effect is created by the peeling bark.

Prunus Serrula

Prunus Serrula

Acer Griseum

Acer Griseum


If you are after a silver white effect then you need to consider the beautiful and ever popular Silver Birch. If this tree is underplanted with Dogwood or Cornus alba, then the red and yellow stems in winter will create a stunning contrast.

Like any plant in the garden you will need to look up which soil conditions the tree prefers and whether it will tolerate sun or shade. Most trees tolerate the sun but the Japanese Maples Acer palmatum atropurpureum needs shade and I would recommend planting it under the canopy of another tree.

If you need some help to consider the best type of tree and its placement, contact a garden designer who would be able to help you with your decision . Garden designers also work with lighting specialists to advise on the best type of lighting for the garden.

Inge BerrieInge Berrie – Courtyard, family, estate, contemporary and traditional garden designs

After receiving formal training at the Garden Design School in Cobham graduating with a Diploma. Inge has gone on to design a variety of gardens ranging from front gardens in family homes to large estate gardens.

To find out more information about Inge and her designs, visit Berrie Garden Design

Category: Expert Series

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