Colourful Winter Bark
In the middle of winter, bark is one of the few things that still bring colour and vibrancy to our gardens. From frosty white to shiny-orange, shrubs such as Cornus or trees such as the Tibetan cherry (Prunus serrula), Paperbark maple (Acer griseum) and Birch (Betula) are at their best. This is when they are the stars of the garden, with the intense glowing bark on their stems, trunks and branches, especially on a sunny, crisp winter’s day.
This year, we have more varieties of Birch in stock than ever before, most of them new to us. If you like white bark, Betula utilis jacquemontii ‘Snow Queen’ or ‘Trinity College’ have gleaming snowy bark from an early age, while ‘White Chocolate’ is more creamy. These are available as single stem or multistem trees.
Betula ‘Cinnamon’ has smooth rich cinnamon-brown bark that starts to peel at an early age. ‘Wakehurst Place Chocolate’ has one of the darkest barks of any birch throughout its life, starting from plain chocolate and maturing to various shades of brown.
Other birches like ‘Fascination’, ‘China Rose’ and ‘Red Lady’ all give off multiple colours from their bark, ranging from orange and salmon-white to metallic copper and red. We also have native Silver Birch available (Betula pendula).
Away from birches, Prunus serrula has shining mahogany peeling bark, Acer griseum has cinnamon coloured peeling bark, while the stems of Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’ does exactly what its name suggests – brings a warming glow with bright orange and yellow stems. Only the Japanese Maple, Acer palmatum ‘Bi-Hoo’ has similar fiery orange coloured stems in winter.
Other Cornus (Dogwoods) such as Cornus ‘Elegantissima’ and ‘Sibirica’ have bright red stems in winter, whereas Cornus stolonifera ‘Flaviramea’ has bright yellow stems in winter. By contrast, Cornus alba ‘Kesselringii’ has very dark red shoots that turn almost black in winter.
I visited the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) garden at Rosemoor in Devon last week and the winter garden was fully or colourful bark. Alternatively, closer to home, the two Betula ‘Snow Queen’ outside Fivehead Village Hall are stunning at this time of year.