Having the right specimen tree in your garden enhances the beauty of your home landscape. A specimen tree is a tree that you deliberately plant apart or separate from the rest of other trees so that it becomes a focal point of your garden.
You can also refer to a specimen tree as a solo tree because it stands alone. The idea behind this landscape tactic is that trees planted in a group may not be noticeable enough therefore their combined attraction can be lost or easily ignored by the guests.
Gardeners use a specimen true to pull the onlooker’s attention to a particular direction of the landscape. Indeed, the term “specimen” is Latin for “to look at.” You want the viewer to see your garden trees, but you also want him to give undivided attention to a particular tree, which is somehow the center of your garden.
However, the specimen tree should not be so placed that one can tell you intended it to be the center stage. The placing of a specimen tree requires tact that only experienced gardeners can afford. It is best to consult landscapers if you are unsure how to go about placing a specimen tree.
Qualities of Specimen Trees
For a tree to be considered worth standing alone as a specimen in your garden landscape, it should have the following qualities:
1. A beautiful Tree
It needs to be a beautiful tree that can easily attract attention even from a distance. Flowering trees make good specimen trees because they are attractive. It helps if they bloom for a long duration, and the flowers are lovely. A flowering tree that gives out flowers for more than two seasons is a great choice for a specimen tree.
A specimen tree should be interesting to behold, depending on how it contrasts against or blends with the surrounding structures or other trees. It doesn’t have to be a flowering tree, but it should still have a cool stature that sets it apart as an outstanding tree.
Trees with evergreen leaves, cool barks, and twisting branches make good garden specimen trees even if they do not blossom.
Factors to Consider Before Planting a Specimen Tree
1) Position in the Garden
Before you plant a specimen tree, decide which place suits it in your garden. It should be visible to attract attention, so ensure other trees in your garden do not block the specimen tree. Plant a specimen or focal point tree where you can easily enjoy watching it from outside or inside the house if both are possible.
2) The Size of the Specimen Tree
The size of your garden should accommodate the specimen tree when it grows to its full height.
6 Best Specimen Trees for Your Garden
The following are some of the trees that are considered the best choice as garden specimen trees:
Deodar cedar is one conifer tree suitable as a garden specimen tree because it is evergreen and has drooping branches that stand out. Deodar cedar has been used as a specimen in large gardens, parks, and streets even though it does not flower.
It is easy to maintain; you only remove the dead or damaged branches to give room to new growth. It grows to 40-50 feet, expanding to 20-30 feet in width. It does better in full sun in well-drained clay, sandy, or loamy soil.
Blue Point Juniper Tree makes a lovely landscape addition to any garden that requires a specimen tree. It stands out due to its conical shape and bush spirals, which you may have to cut back close to the main trunk to give the tree a majestic look that it needs to be the focal point tree in your garden.
You can also plant Blue Point Juniper Trees in a line to act as windbreakers or as a privacy screen. The tree is easy to maintain and can tolerate arid climates.
3. Redbud Tree
Also known as Forest Pansy, the Redbud tree is one flowering tree suitable as a focal point tree because they blossom early in the Spring, and their rosy-pink leaves stand out in the Spring.
They are interesting to watch throughout the year. After the Spring, the leaves put forth green foliage, which enhances the beauty of the blooms.
Redbud Tree is tolerant of drought and does best in full sun exposure. It grows slowly to a height of 30 feet. It is one flowering tree you can use as a privacy screen.
The Indian Bean Tree is the best choice for you if you need a focal point tree that requires little space in your small garden. It is a suitable selection as a garden specimen tree because of its large heart-shaped leaves. The tree does well in full sun exposure though you need to plant it away from the sun.
This dwarf tree that is perfect for small spaces grows to only 8 meters and spreads to a width of 6 meters hence it well suits a small or medium-sized garden.
I am yet to find out why it is called Judas Tree. The name doesn’t inspire confidence, but the tree looks confident enough in its hard to ignore shape and bright pink flowers that make a great show in Spring.
In Summer, it puts on intense purple foliage. These qualities make Judas Tree a great choice for a focal point tree. Is it called Judas Tree because it can afford to stand alone in the garden as a specimen tree? Maybe yes, maybe no.
Judas Tree is also suitable for a small garden because it grows to an average shrub’s height, which is 8 meters.
Maidenhair Tree or Ginkgo biloba will make a great outstanding or focal point tree in your garden. This tree is especially suitable for a novice gardener because it is easy to take care of. It mainly requires a site that is exposed to the full sun.
It is a garden specimen tree that is not disturbed by diseases, insects, or pests, so you have little to worry about when it comes to maintenance.
7. Crape Myrtle
Crape Myrtle is a popular multi-stemmed North American shade known for its cool shade and bright, beautiful summer flowers in pink, white, red, and purple varieties.
Crape Myrtle makes a perfect specimen tree in a garden because of its upright growth, rare shinning gray bark, outstanding green foliage, and marveling bright flowers. You can plant it in a container if you have limited space.
Well, now that you have seen the best specimen trees for your garden and landscape design, it is time to make an informed decision. I dare add that a specimen tree should not be common in your neighborhood.