Deciduous Trees are the drama queens of the forest. They grow big leaves that change colour throughout the year especially in autumn just before they drop them like they’re going out of fashion and sulk for the winter.
Evergreen Trees are much more sensible. They grow modest sized leaves and keep them long term. I used to think evergreen trees as being conifers type trees, like pine trees and macrocarpa hedges. Personally I’m not a fan of conifers. Pine forests seem dead to me.
There are actually plenty of evergreen trees that are nothing like conifers. Here are some of my favourite examples:
- Beech trees – Nothofagus species
- Pohutakawa – Metrosideros species
- Bottle brush – Banksia species
- Gum trees – Eucalyptus species
Many people choose deciduous or evergreen based on the fact that they do or don’t loose their leaves every autumn. Deciduous trees can be a nuisance with their big fat leaves scattered all over the yard like the aftermath of a teenager’s tantrum. But evergreen trees can be silently as untidy. They drop their leaves continuously throughout the year as they update their photosynthesis capacity.
It’s a bit like how we continuously refresh our skin cells slowly but daily whereas lizards upgrade their skin all in one go, once a year.
So there are pros and cons to the leaf recycling process. If you like a perfect looking lawn, you’ll either need to pick up wheelbarrows full on leaves every day for a few weeks in autumn OR lightly rake the lawn weekly all year round. Personally I like the look of small leaves scattered on a lawn like confetti, especially beech tree leaves so I wouldn’t bother with the raking.
There are other things to consider too. Deciduous trees are bare in winter and allow more sunlight to filter through on those short and cold days when you need every last droplet of sunshine. Most fruit bearing trees and bold flowering types tend to be deciduous trees like cherry trees, apricot trees, and magnolia trees.
These are some of my favourite deciduous trees:
- Dogwood trees – Cornus species
- Magnolia trees – Magolia species
- Weeping willow trees – Salix × sepulcralis
- Maple trees – Acer species
Evergreen trees can have flowers too but they tend to be small. Despite their size, they can still put on a show like Wattle trees, Gum trees, Strawberry trees, Banksia trees, Kowhai trees, and Pohutakawas.
By the way, my favourite website for looking up different tree options is www.southernwoods.co.nz it has a fantastic filter for their database of plants so you can choose deciduous trees that grow fast to an adult height of 2-5m with flowers and attractive bark. I mean you can get really specific with your criteria. It beats flipping through pages in a hefty book only to find out the species that is perfect isn’t available in New Zealand.