Specimen Garden Trees

If you are in the market for a garden tree, then why out think outside the box & choose something a little different from the norm? A stand out tree can be a really good focal point in your garden and we can list a selection of great alternative trees that will grow perfectly well in Irish gardens.

Catalpa Bignonioides – The Indian Bean Tree

If space is limited, then you really want a tree that will give your garden something extra whilst not taking up the entire place. Catalpa Bignoniodies is a real show stopper with it's giant heart shaped leaves. With a height of 8m & a spread of 6m the Indian Bean Tree is suited to small or medium sized gardens. They have a great rounded tree canopy which develops on an erect single stem giving the tree a very uniform look. These trees like a sunny spot in most soils but best to plant in a sheltered spot.

Cornus Kousa – The Dogwood Tree

The Kousa Dogwood is a delightful small tree, ideal for the smallest of garden, large containers & planters. Multiple stems twist & turn as they grow upwards and a dome shaped, spreading canopy gives the tree it's real character. These plants have something for every season with star shaped white flowers in Summer & their foliage turning copper red in Autumn. Red berries also appear in Autumn while in Winter they lose their leaves to reveal the intricate branching. Trees can reach 5m in height. Happy in sun & partial shade.

Cercis Siliquastrum – Judas Tree

The Judas tree can also be considered a large shrub as it’s single stem will start to branch out quite low to the ground. This short main stem gives Cercis it’s distinctive shape, but it is the show of bright pink flowers in Spring & deep purple foliage in Summer that makes the Judas tree a great addition to any garden. These trees can grow about 8m in height.

Davidia Involucrata – The Handkerchief Tree

Whilst the trees already listed are suited to smaller gardens, the Handkerchief tree is not as it can grow to 12 to 15m in height. These trees develop paper-like flowers in May which give the trees its name. They are also sometimes called the Dove tree or Ghost tree. These are slow growing, deciduous trees with an open canopy and benefit from being positioned in a sheltered location. This is the only plant within the Davidia genus of plants. Flowers are produced once tree is about 10 years old.

Parrotia Persica – The Persian Ironwood

Also a small tree or large shrub, the Persian Ironwood is a multi-stemmed, deciduous, spreading plant which is grown for its fiery red & rusty coloured foliage. As the tree enters Autumn the leaves will go through a series of vibrant colour changes making for a great focal point from August to November. As the tree ages, it's bark develops a distinctive brown spotted appearance.


Fast growing tree, can shoot out long new stems reaching 2m in length each year. Avoid windy sites & damp soils if you want a happy & healthy plant. Develops fragrant, pink flowers in late Spring.

Ginkgo Biloba – The Maidenhair tree

No alternative tree list would be complete with the one & only Ginkgo. Like the Davidia, Gingko is the only plant in it's genus. But in this case, it is because all other plants from the genus are now extinct and Ginkgo Biloba is the last remaining remnants of an ancient species of plant, with fossil evidence dating back 270 million years. Oddly shaped, fan leaves are the distinctive feature of the Gingko tree which can reach a height of 40m. Foliage turns golden yellow in Autumn.

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