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  • Writer's pictureMartin Ford

Colour, Flower & Fruit ~ Top 20 Benefits of Trees

We're continuing our countdown of favourite ways that trees benefit our health and our communities.

#7. Colour, Flower & Fruit

We expect perennials and annuals to be the primary sources of the pleasure that flowers bring – sometimes also shrubs such as Redbuds, Lilacs and Dogwoods – especially seasonally.

In a garden design, these shrubs often act as substitutions for trees over 5 metres high, which we worry will come to dominate and create shade, which the garden books tell us generally reduces the amount of flower perennials and annuals can produce. However, the seasonality of colour and flower are limited so we design with succession in mind so that there is something new always emerging which again requires sunlight to maximize flower formation.

As an alternative, when we focus on shadow and dappled light as being a primary source of pleasure, we recognize that sunlight enters from different angles as the sun moves through the sky each day. This gives us a continuous and variable visual pleasure throughout each day and each season. We can have both when we choose not to prioritize colour but, instead, enjoy both taller plants and trees all year round – something flowers can't offer.

Additionally, the many greens that plant leaves create become far easier to recognize when we have shade available to help us distinguish the hues and variations of green. Plants produce flowers to be distinguished from the leaves and so distract us from the beauty of leaves: we tend to see them as background and not the levels and layers that they create to filter and reflect light.

Then, there is also fruit, which, particularly now in the autumn, are ripening and giving another level of pleasure.

Fruit include nuts which can be collected and easily stored for winter enjoyment, whereas apples, pears, grapes and paw paws need coolness to lengthen their storage potential.

Also, fruit provides the birds, bees and animals with their final opportunity to prepare both their bodies and the supplies for long winters by collecting and feasting on what we don’t collect and eat.

As fruit ripens it creates lovely colours that can often be far more beautiful than the spring flower from which the fruit began.

It is the ability of a garden to have many features and benefits for both nature and our health and, therefore, it is important not to simply focus on colour and flower for the future of our city spaces.

by Martin Ford


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