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  • The Exploding Garden is really taking shape here at Garden Ninja HQ. Well, shape if you mean some quadrants cut out of turf. The designs looking really rather flat which is why the next step is planting some beautiful trees! It may be the middle of winter but it is the ideal time to plant trees. So let's wrap up warm and get our spades ready!

    Planting the Trees

    Winter is the perfect time for planting bare root and root balled trees. Now don’t roll your eyes, its the truth. This is the time when most trees are dormant and can be lifted safely as root balled trees or bare root. The benefits are they are far cheaper and easier to manoeuvre than wet fresh leafy trees!

    Digging Tree Pits

    Now for the important part, the preparation for trees is essential to their future success. With vare roots you can’t afford for the roots to dry out, which is why they often arrive wrapped in plastic. You need to get them in ASAP or keep them moist.

    Now bad luck would have it that we had one of the coldest winters ever in 2017. Meaning that just as my trees arrived a long hard frost did too. So I had to put my bare roots into the garage for a few days, keeping them moist until I could dig the soil.

    Frozen ground in winter at the exploding atom garden

    Once it has thawed slightly, I started to dig the pits. Ideally, they should be 1.5x the width of the root ball or bareroot. Then place the tree in, backfill and stake. Staking is really important and I have a few videos showing you how on my Youtube channel.

    Digging a tree pit in the ground

    Choice of UK Native Trees

    During my design phase for the exploding garden, I was really keen to use as many native UK plants and trees as possible. So I knew that classics such as Acer campestre (Field Maple), Corylus avellana (Hazel) and Fagus Sylvatica (Beech) would be making an appearance.  However, I wanted to use them as design features and not just planting. So after much research, I chose forms that would lend themselves to the exploding atom gardens out there design.

    Trees used in the Exploding Atom Garden

    • Acer campestre
    • Corylus avellana
    • Fagus sylvatica
    • Gleditsia ‘Sunburst’
    • Betula Jacquemontii (Multistem)
    • Betula pendula
    Garden Ninja with bare root trees in winter

    By using a mix of multistem and fastigiate forms (which is a fancy word for collum or to a point) I was able to not only use beautiful native trees but use them in a new and exciting way.

    With bare root and root ball trees, you need to order them in advance as there is only a short window in which to have them lifted and then replanted. Don’t let that put you off though, winters the best time to plant them when they are dormant and its really good fun seeing the trees turn from leafless twigs to trees in the spring. Below shows you how they may arrive, looking twiggy and with the odd crispy leaf. Don’t worry though this is perfectly normal!

    Bare root trees for planting trees in winter

    I can be honest in saying that getting these 16 trees in during a weekend was harder than undertaking Tough Mudder. Yes, I have done tough mudder and believe me its a cake walk compared to frosty freezing ground and 16 massive heavy trees. However, the results will definitely be worth it so maybe get a friend round and some brews on if you’re in a similar situation!

    What is happening next?

    The next stage of the exploding atom garden is to cultivate the rest of the ground come spring, add shrubs and get some edging in to keep those perfect circular beds in shape. Come back soon or check out my Diary Video Guide on my youtube channel below.

    The Exploding Atom Garden Video Diary will be updated soon with further progress!

    Want to check out the other Exploding Atom Design Diaries?

    Catch up by going back to the beginning or other design diaries you may have missed!

    1. Exploding Garden Design Diary 1
    2. Marking out the Exploding Atom Garden Design Diary 2
    3. Planting the Trees in the Exploding Atom Garden Design Diary 3
    4. Shrubs and edging in the Exploding Atom Garden Design Diary 4

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