More Than a Twig

So extensive was the build and remedial work on our site after the earthquakes, that not a single plant remained. It’s been hard work great to start with a blank canvas but also means we are currently devoid of height in our garden. Here’s what I’ve had to consider in choosing suitable trees for our site.

Redwoods, Hawkes Bay

I find it quite difficult to imagine what full grown trees will even look like so trips to established gardens are a regular exercise for me, as is online research.

This is what I’ve had to consider in making my choices:

Site aspect

Our street is steep and narrow and there are fifteen steps to access our house – anything more than a twig requires too much energy to deliver.

We are on a hillside with a sloped site and it’s not uncommon for a cross wind to funnel up the valley – the twig will easily break.

Our front and back gardens are sun traps – the leaves on our twig will burn and the roots require frequent water in getting established.

… we’re off to a good start

Garden scene, Larnach Castle, Dunedin


Much as we get along with our neighbours, it would be good to have a screen between us but, get the positioning of a twig wrong by just two millimetres, and we will also block out our beautiful port view from the various windows of our house.

Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’ (Wedding cake tree) gardens of Larnach Castle, Dunedin

Site Size and Shape

Our garden is long and narrow. Nowhere is too far from the foundations of the house and numerous retaining walls. Running down both sides are storm water pipes (extremely necessary for sloped sites). The services – water and electricity – annoyingly cohabit a front corner that would be ideal for a specimen tree. So, in choosing my twigs, I must carefully consider their root system to ensure they don’t get into any underground shenanigans (and I certainly wouldn’t have space for a happy trio as in the above image).

Loving how the sunlight catches the red of the distant maple. Christchurch Botanic gardens.


I’d like gregarious twigs – ones that entertain bees, birds and social butterflies. Ones that enhance a planting scheme of perennials and smaller shrubs. In winter unashamed to stand naked, to enable the low winter sunlight to reach our garden.

So no larger than 6m fully grown and deciduous it is.


Finally the small number of twigs need to fit into my colour scheme; look ‘Insta-worthy’ and be available from the garden centres when I’m ready to plant them.

… not a tall order really.

My Choices

So far I have bought:

  • Acer japonicum (Autumn Moon)
  • Cornus Florida (Cherokee Chief)
  • Cercis canadensis (Forest Pansy)

Are there any photos yet?

No, they’re camera shy until a little less ‘twiggy’

3 thoughts on “More Than a Twig

Add yours

  1. I love the combination of your humour and your photos – and of course the amazing work you have been putting into your twigs


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