Plant a tree for Arbour Week

2010-08-27 00:00

TREES are an important part of our environment, providing shade and improving air quality, as well as providing attractive foliage and beautiful flowers.

Celebrate Arbour Week (September 1 to September 7) this year by planting a tree. South Africa has over 1 000 indigenous trees and each year the Department of Environmental Affairs recommends the planting of particular trees of the year to promote their popularity.

This year, there are two trees ideally suited to gardens.

Large gardens

The fever tree (Acacia xanthophloea) grows 12 metres to 15 metres tall with an eight to 10-metre wide spread, so it is perfect for gardens with lots of room for the tree to grow. The smooth bark is a bright yellow green, birds love nesting in its branches and butterflies are attracted to the yellow fluffy blossoms that appear in spring and early summer.

Smaller gardens

The wild gardenia (Rothmannia capensis) grows to six metres high and has a spread of four metres. The beautiful creamy-white, bell-shaped flowers with maroon markings in the centre are borne in summer from December to February, and are highly fragrant. Fruits appear later, and attract birds.

Value of trees

Why should you be planting trees in your garden? Trees provide privacy, reduce noise and hide undesirable views; and they catch the slightest breeze, creating air movement and help filter polluted air. In cities, trees are sometimes the only splash of colour in a man-made mortar-and-brick landscape. Their beauty may come from their form, their foliage, flowers or fruits. In small and townhouse gardens, the right-size tree can be a great asset, providing shade and privacy, and additional value if they flower. Because of limited space, it is important to select a tree that is suitable in eventual size, spread and shape, and has a non-invasive root system.

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