Small Trees for the Garden

In the November issue of Fayette Woman I interviewed master gardener, Dan Frazier, about his ten favorite trees. Since Dan selected many wonderful medium-to- large trees, I thought I would add my favorite small trees or large shrubs that work perfectly for the small garden or patio. Sometimes we just don’t have the space for a large tree. Try some of these smaller varieties to enjoy fragrance, color and flowers.

Little Gem Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’) A much smaller version of our majestic southern magnolia, this tree blooms at an earlier age, is insect and disease-resistant and doesn’t leave a mess by dropping so many leaves. Plant in full or partial sun and look forward to large white, perfumed flowers each spring.

'Little Gem' Magnolia

Japanese Apricot (Prunus mume) – When I first saw this tree blooming in January or February, I couldn’t believe it – so much luscious pink color and fragrance in the middle of winter! This small tree is a great addition to the garden at the time of year when we really can use some cheer.

Japanese Apricot

Coral Bark Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum ‘Sango Kaku’) – For more spectacular winter interest, plant the coral bark maple and enjoy the bright bare crimson branches against the snow or dormant winter background. During the growing season, the leaves are a pretty green and then turn yellow in autumn for all-season interest.

Coral Bark Japanese Maple

Dynamite Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica ‘Dynamite’) – I added a ‘Dynamite’ to my back garden this year because I needed something attractive in a small space and I love the deep pure red blooms.

'Dynamite' Crape Myrtle


Tea Olive (Osmanthus fragrans) – This large evergreen shrub can be pruned into a small tree. It is prized for the powerful frangrance of its small white flowers that bloom periodically throughout the year. Plant a tea olive where you can enjoy the scent. I just added six to my garden!

Fragrant Tea Olive

Bonnie Helander

I am a writer and blogger with a specialty in gardening and a proud graduate of the University Of Georgia. I live in Peachtree City with husband, Dan, and enjoy hiking, gardening, being a member of the Peachtree City Garden Club and rooting for the Georgia Bulldogs!