Choosing the right tree for your garden.

I sometimes question the suitability of trees promoted by Dept of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for Arbor Week.  This year sees Ficus thonningii,   Common wild fig  or strangler fig;  Maerua cafra,  Common bush-cherry, Gewone witbos;   Maerua angolensis, Bead- bean tree, Knoppiesboontjieboom.  As far as I’m concerned none are suitable for the average small garden on the Garden Route.  Any  Ficus  species should never, ever be planted in a garden, unless you have acres of open spaces to play with. Their root system is extremely invasive and can cause extensive damage to buildings, sewer systems and paving.

Strangler Fig:
Strangler Fig:

Before you blindly follow the tree list promoted for Arbor week, do some research.  A good site to visit is

We have a wonderful variety of trees available in the Southern Cape, most of them suitable for the small garden and adapted to our climatic conditions. Remember when planting a tree, you plant for the future;  take into account the canopy spread, height of mature tree and  most importantly the size of its root system.

Trees give a sense of permanence and stature to a garden once they reach an age of 10 years plus, so the choice you make  should be the right one.