Size does matter when it comes to choosing trees

bigtree3.jpg

Large tree growers are urging landscape architects to plan ahead to avoid being disappointed when considering which specimens they want to enhance their projects with.

“New Zealand is going through significant growth, has been for the last year or two,” says Leafland general manager, Ben Currie. “That means a lot of extra streets and houses, a lot of development. But it takes a few years to grow three to four metre trees.”

Currie, who runs Leafland specimen tree nursery , says in the last month alone he’s had to tell many of  his clients that he can’t provide the trees at the size they want until next winter.

 Over 10 years the platanus orientalis (Oriental Plane) grows to a height of 9m. It's perfect for large lawns and parks, providing good shade. It also tolerates pollution well.

Over 10 years the platanus orientalis (Oriental Plane) grows to a height of 9m. It's perfect for large lawns and parks, providing good shade. It also tolerates pollution well.

“Demand has been constantly outstripping  supply,” he says. “A lot of our top-selling line trees are selling out all the time.

“What’s frustrating for us is that a lot of projects have been in the pipeline for a couple of years by the time the trees are ordered.  If we’d known earlier we would  have been growing the specimens in advance. Instead we often have to supply smaller grade and everyone ends up disappointed.”

It also means those smaller trees often don’t give the desired impact, are more susceptible to vandalism and may need replacing.

“We have recently been asked for 80l Alectryon excelsa at 4m for street trees , and the largest we had were p40 at 2(metres).

“The client said they had tried all the other nurseries in NZ.

“But the subdivision has been going for a few years, and it has been a few years since the resource consent was issued.

“If you’re spending multi millions on projects,  it’s worth spending a few thousand to put a deposit on particular trees in advance , then we label up  those trees specifically for the job .”

Currie says in many countries  trees are one of the first things chosen when designing new subdivisions. Everything else is planned around them. The resulting neighbourhoods give residents a sense of well-being and belonging.

But in New Zealand, Currie says, trees are often treated as the last item on the list. He’d like to see that change.

Currie also suggests landscape architects visit nurseries annually so they can see what new lines are coming on.