Some of my favourite summer trees bring a splash of colour to the garden or the street as they burst into bloom as the season starts to warm up.

Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)

3-6m high, 3-6m wide, winter deciduous
Crepe Myrtles are among the best garden trees to grow. They are pretty in every season, available as named varieties in a range of colours, shapes and sizes, and with the availability of the Indian Summer range, are problem free. They have crepe-like flowers in pale pink, heliotrope, red, mauve or white and bloom from late spring well into autumn. As the flowering ends, the leaves colour gold and red for autumn. Crepe Myrtles flower while young. They can be pruned hard in winter for a shrubby plant, but are best left to grow into their natural form. Remove spent heads after flowering.

Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia)

8-15m high, 6-10m wide, late winter-early spring deciduous
Depending where you live in Australia, Jacarandas flower in spring or summer. They flower in spring in the subtropics and later in cooler and southern districts. In Sydney they flower in November. These spreading trees are a feature in many suburbs and country towns where they are planted in parks and along roadsides as well as in large old gardens. They are not trees for a small garden, but if you have room and love that burst of Jacaranda blue, they make a wonderful shade and feature tree. They don’t respond well to pruning so give them room to spread. When Jacarandas are pruned, they send out lots of upright vertical branches that spoil the look of the tree.

Jacarandas are briefly deciduous in early spring when their leaves turn golden yellow then drop leaving the branches bare and ready for the flowers to burst open. In most areas the new leaves don’t appear until after flowering begins but Jacarandas can get leaves and flowers at the same time in colder areas. Trees are grown from seed and can take several years to flower.

Ivory Curl Tree (Buckinghamia celsissima)

7-9m high, 3-4m wide, evergreen
In full flower this tree can be a traffic stopper. It has long tassle-like cream flowers that smother the tree from mid summer to autumn. It is native to northeast Queensland, but grows well in temperate and coastal gardens and once established tolerates light frost. The flowers are a bee-magnet. Ivory Curl Tree grows in sun or shade and can be pruned after flowering.

Evergreen Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’)

5-7m high, 3-4m wide, evergreen
Magnolia Grandiflora is a huge spreading tree that’s far too large for all but the grandest garden, so we are lucky that plant breeders have selected some compact forms to enjoy in suburban gardens. The variety ‘Little Gem’ has been around for many years. It can be grown as a dense hedge or planted as a feature tree. The flowers are large, creamy white and fragrant and are at their best in summer. The leathery-green leaves have a furry brown underside adding to the year-round beauty of this tree. This tree can be pruned to control its size and spread.

Other Summer Options

Cape Chestnut (Calodendrum capense), NSW Christmas bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum), Frangipani (Frangipani rubra), Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus), Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera).

Planting Tips

Water new plantings well until they establish (here’s a link to more information on planting).