Answer: What you describe sounds like a coral bark maple. It is an attractive specimen, especially in winter when you can see the brightly colored branch structure. As for other trees suitable for planting around a patio, there are several choices.
Normally, when we categorize trees as small, we think 25-30'. Something that remains smaller at maturity will be either a genetic dwarf, or a large shrub trained into a tree form. Here are a few suggestions for smallish trees to place around a patio area: Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica); evergreen tree that produces abundant, edible fruit, which is a hit with wildlife; dark green leaves and reaches height of 15-25'; does well in full sun but tolerates afternoon shade; tough tree with colorful fruit and year-round glossy foliage. Southern Waxmyrtle (Myrica cerifera); versatile evergreen plant grown as large shrub or small tree; reaches 10-15' height; grown in full sun or shade and in wet or dry areas. Devilwood or Wild Olive (Osmanthus americanus); evergreen tree with open and loose growth habit, reaching 15-25' tall; grown in sun or shade but best leaf color obtained with some shade; white-yellow, fragrant flowers in spring followed by dark purplish fruit. Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata); slow growing, deciduous tree reaching 15-20' tall white fragrant flowers during winter; grown in full sun for best flowering; performs well in partial shade; cultivars available with different shades of pink to lavender flowers. Hope one of these trees is just right for your landscape.
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