Windy Willows grows a range of over 50 trees, which are categorized as small, medium, or large garden trees. The large garden trees generally have invasive root systems, which cannot be planted within three to four metres of a house.
The attached list of trees also categorises the trees as indigenous (I) or exotic (E). Don’t make the mistake of assuming that all exotic trees are invasive or `water guzzlers’. Further codes will allow you to determine whether the tree is deciduous (D) or ever-green (EG). In a small complex, it is generally advisable to opt for deciduous trees, so that the sun can warm the house in winter. In summer, when you really don’t want too much sun in the house, a deciduous tree can provide both shade and a cool house.
Another important consideration in choosing a tree is whether it is frost tender (FT) or hardy (H). Planting an Acacia Fever Tree in Johannesburg is a challenging proposition. Frost tender trees don’t cope well with temperatures that drop below about three degrees in winter. An Acacia karoo, by contrast, is a hardy tree, which will withstand the Highveld winters with ease. Protected suburban gardens will allow even frost tender trees, such as the Fever Tree to grow to a height where frost no longer matters.
Another important consideration is whether the tree prefers full sun or semi-shade. Most trees will survive in shade, but will not grow to their full potential. Leaf colour may vary in the shade (variegation may disappear), and flowers will generally only emerge if the tree is planted in the correct light. The tree fushia (Halleria lucida) should be planted in the shade if it is going to reach its true potential. Similarly, a viburnum sinensus needs full sun to flower, and the Photinia red robin will only display its magnificent red leaves in spring if it has sufficient sun/light.
A final consideration may be whether the tree will attract birds, butterflies and bees. Having small kids who regularly play in the garden may lead some parents to avoid the Calistemon endeavour (bottlebrush), as it attracts hoards of bees when in flower. The Dombeya rotundifolia is a good wildlife garden tree that attracts both birds and butterflies into the garden. Other trees that will bring in the butterflies include the Acacia xanthlphloa (Fever tree), the Acacia karoo, the Kiggelaria africana and shrubs, such as the plumbago and tecomaria.