A royal appointment

PUBLISHED: 13:14 14 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:17 20 February 2013

A royal appointment

A royal appointment

Paul King's expertise on trees has helped make his Rayne-based business, King & Co, an established success. Philippa Pearson asks him how to pick the perfect type of tree for any garden

AS A garden designer, I'm occasionally asked to take trees out of a garden, but it is something I try to avoid unless absolutely necessary
and I always bring new trees back into the garden to counteract the loss. Trees are a key part of garden design providing shape, structure and shade as well as colour from foliage and bark all year round. Of course, they are also a home for wildlife and hugely beneficial to the
environment in general.

This importance of trees was one of the things that prompted Paul King
to set up King and Co in Rayne near Braintree more than 30 years ago. The nursery has a fine collection of trees, hedges, shrubs and topiary
but trees are the main speciality. 'We have a lot of requests from people wanting evergreen trees that are disease free and can be used near property for privacy,' says Paul.

Paul particularly recommends using laurel, Prunus laurocerasus, which creates an instant hedge and provides a natural evergreen backdrop
for English garden landscapes. Laurel plants are grown at the nursery
and different sized plants are available and these popular plants
are quickly sought by discerning customers.

'During the last 12 months we've sold nearly 2,000 laurels in 50 litre pots,' Paul explains. Other evergreen hedges and screening Paul also recommends include Photinia fraseri x 'Red Robin' which has lovely red-tinged juvenile foliage, and Viburnum tinus 'Eve Price' which has pretty pink-tinged flowers from late autumn through to spring.

Over the last couple of years, Paul has noticed a renaissance in sales of fruit trees as the quest to 'grow your own' gathers pace. King and Co have a good selection of apple, pear, cherry and plum trees and plants come in half standard, full standard and espalier shapes.
'We only grow trusted English varieties,' adds Paul, 'and the most popular choice is a full standard fruit tree, which has a two-metre clear stem making it easy to mow around.'

Soon there will be an opportunity to carry on the historic legacy of the English elm in your own garden

Espalier trees are good options for smaller gardens or where space is limited; as well as being very decorative, trained fruit trees produce a high yield in a small space. From November to March fruit trees, hedging and some other trees are available as bare root plants while container plants are available at the nursery throughout the year.

As regular exhibitors at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, King and Co
has developed a reputation for quality and experience offering extensive advice on tree selection complete with detailed planting information
and the option of having trees planted by its experienced team.

Paul's love of trees extends to the countryside and 15 years ago he noticed some elm trees growing locally in Essex that had not succumbed to the fatal Dutch elm disease, a fungus which by the 1990s had killed more than 25 million trees. The English elms that Paul saw, Ulmus procera, were healthy and untouched by the disease and, with permission, he took cuttings for propagation.

These grew robustly to 20ft after several years when specialist tissue culture micro propagation led to many further specimens, now 10ft tall, which will soon be available for sale providing an ideal opportunity to carry on the historic legacy of the English elm in your own garden.

Paul King's top trees for small gardens

Malus 'Rudolph' This ornamental crab apple has bronze-red leaves, is scab resistant and enjoys deep pink blossom in spring as well as great
autumn foliage colour
Prunus serrula 'Tibetica' Beautiful shiny, mahogany bark looks fantastic all year round
Acer griseum This Paper Bark maple with interesting peeling bark creates a feature throughout the seasons
Ilex 'Nellie R Stevens' A lovely holly with highly glossy non-prickly leaves and abundant scarlet berries
Crataegus laeviagata 'Paul's Scarlet' This hawthorn with glossy green leaves is covered with scarlet flowers in May

visit the nursery

King and Co The Tree Nursery Ltd
Dunmow Road
Nr Braintree
CM77 6WF
01376 340469

Opening times:
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm; Saturday, 10am to 4pm and Sunday, 11am to 4pm.

  • RHS Silver-Gilt medal winner Philippa Pearson is a garden designer and professional horticulturalist. Call 01767 651253 or email Philippa at gardens@essexlifemag.co.uk

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