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Liquidamber styraciflua: breathtaking autumn colour

Liquidamber styraciflua is commonly known as sweet gum or the American red gum. It is a large deciduous tree that needs plenty of space (so is, unfortunately, not really suitable for smaller gardens) and has a pleasingly conical growth habit. Attractive throughout spring and summer, L. styraciflua bursts into life in the autumn when it’s glossy maple-like leaves take on the most dazzling colours. With the full spectrum of crimson, orange and purple, this is THE tree for autumn colour…simply magical.


L. styraciflua is happy growing in a wide range of soil types and conditions. Like most trees, it prefers a well-drained soil although a bit of moisture isn’t a problem. It likes the sun but can take a little dappled shade. It is fine in windier locations and is sufficiently hardy for the worst of our UK winters.


I mentioned earlier that L. styraciflua is a large tree. Ultimately, it can grow to heights of up to 20m and have a canopy of more than 8m. This definitely puts it into the ‘large tree’ category as far as garden designer’s like me are concerned, but it isn’t particularly fast growing so for the right garden it is absolutely worth planting. I always think it looks wonderful as a specimen focal-point tree, but in the right situation a copse of three, five or even seven would create an unbelievably beautiful autumnal display.


Tempted? If you’ve got the space then maybe L. styraciflua is worth considering for your garden. Even if you’re looking for something a little smaller, January is a great time to be planting a new tree. With most of our favourite trees dormant at this time of year they can be transplanted with the minimum of disruption. Whether they are container-grown or supplied as root-ball or bare-root stock, the planting process for a new tree is really easy and extremely rewarding. 


Planting a tree is always a significant action- we’re putting something in the ground that will hopefully provide height, colour, texture and interest for generations to come. We are also doing a tiny bit to offset our carbon footprint by planting a new tree. That’s surely got to be something that we can all sign up to?


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Tythorne Garden Design provides professional fixed-fee garden design solutions for customers in Grantham, Stamford, Newark and surrounding areas. Let's see how we can help you to enjoy your garden more. Call us on 07900 224 239 or 01529 455 355.

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