Which British native tree is often overlooked?

January and February have got to be the dullest of horticultural months! Not a lot to get excited about apart from the promise of the Spring.

I walked a local park to me on the weekend and saw a tree that is often forgotten as one of our prettiest natives, Sorbus torminalis the Wild Service Tree. I think one of the main reasons it is underdone is that it’s a devil to grow and transplant as a young tree in a nursery. It grows with a coarse carroty root system with very little fibrous root so reacts very poorly to containerization or transplanting. We found this out several years ago when we lost a beautiful crop from the field when we lifted them bare root for container production. We now take them root balled from the field and at a smaller size with far more success. Once we have captured the root system and established it within one of our Light Pots they become as reliable as any other of our trees.

Another reason why availability of this tree is so sparse is because a batch grows as such random rates. Some put on four feet of growth in one growing season with a non-branched leader going up like a rocket whilst others grow just a few inches. It you want uniformity this is not the tree for you but for leaf shape, flower and autumn colour it has so much to offer. We have pretty much sold out of these for this season and the next medium size crop won’t be available until autumn 2019. We will have smaller ones grown from seed available in 5lt pots for this autumn at about one metre tall.

If you want a medium sized Sorbus torminalis our advice is to get your name on one early. They are rare to see but worth the wait!

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