We have just had Foliage Day where we can appreciate all the different colours and textures of the leaves in our gardens. But there is more, now is the time to look up and see the beauty that is around us in the tree trunks and stems in our gardens. Some of mine have been planted purely and simply because of their colour, so that we will have colour in the garden through the dull grey winter days, one was discovered a lot later when it grew and developed adult bark on its trunk. The most obvious grouping that we have is up the drive where we have our various silver birches and Cornus alba sibirica Westonbirt.
The bark of Betula Jaquemontii is so smooth and tactile, my trees are still relatively young, only about 10 yrs old, but seeing the white bark emerging when the brown layer peels off is so satisfying!
A single specimen is next of Betula papyrifera, the paper bark birch, again with Cornus Westonbirt planted around it for contrast. We were surrounded by a woodland of these trees when we stayed in the mountains in Canada one year, this one was planted to remind us of that holiday.
The last of my birches in the front are a group of three Betula ermanii. This group are only just starting to shed their juvenile brown bark, just the bottom 12 inches are looking the creamy white which they will all be in a few years time.
We also have a silver birch near the back door where all the birds line up for their breakfast near the bird feeder. This was a seedling that just arrived in the garden and must be at least 15 yrs old now, if not more. The bark is starting to split and get fissures in it, these must be where the insects hide because the tree is always full of birds pecking at the bark.
Prunus serrula is growing near to the greenhouse at the back of the garage, so easy to give it a quick stroke when going to open the greenhouse in the morning! Another tree with really smooth tactile bark, almost like silk.
In the centre of the garden, under the dead oak is a small tree of the common myrtle, Myrtus communis. Sometimes the trunks have white patches where the brown flakes away, the brown substance makes them feel like felt. I suppose it may be the same as the underside of Rhododendron leaves where they have a brown indumentum. We pruned the lower branches away so that we could see the stems when sitting on the swinging seat next to it. I think maybe I ought to plant under it with spring bulbs.
As well as the red stems of the Cornus by the silver birches, more coloured stems, this time yellow/orange, are up by the pond, on the willow, Salix alba Britzensis. The cornus and the willow get cut back in March as it is the young stems that have the most colour.
Soon all the coloured stems will be coppiced or pollarded, it seems a shame when they are cut down, but at least we have had colour in the garden since Oct/Nov. when the leaves dropped and we know that this will all be repeated in 8 months time.