Beech trees are iconic, stately, awe-inspiring specimens that define the British landscape, particularly in the autumn when the deciduous leaves are shed in majestic shades of yellow and brown. Beech form a multi-branched, dome-shaped crown of shiny leaves towering above the landscape. Most varieties will reach 12m+ (Common Beech 30m+) while some weeping varieties top out at 4-8m. The emergence of their rich green or purple foliage in April is a sure sign that spring has arrived and an attractive sight in many a springtime wood. Beech trees have smooth, thin, grey bark, often with subtle horizontal etchings and torpedo-shaped, maroon leaf buds produced in an alternate pattern along short stalks. Known as the queen of British trees, they are a haven for wildlife, not least because they produce bristly seed pods containing pyramid-shaped nuts in the autumn. Beech trees can play several roles in the garden. Monumental specimens of Common Beech in parks and large gardens are perhaps the best known, but they’re also used in hedges in every corner of Britain with purple-leaved beech (Fagus sylvatica Atropurpurea) being popular for this purpose. If growing as a hedge, the brown leaves will remain over winter if you prune in midsummer. Weeping purple beech is a (comparatively) smaller mushroom-headed form whilst the Riversii beech variety boasts the brightest purple leaves.