Expe ’s choice

At­trac­tive bark, a light canopy and spring catkins make the birch a firm favourite, says Gra­ham Rice

Gardeners' World - - On The Cover -

The birch is one of Bri­tain’s best-loved trees. In the coun­try­side we en­joy its white stems, its spring catkins and its but­tery au­tumn colour, while in gar­den va­ri­eties we en­joy all those fea­tures with ex­tra in­ten­sity plus its quick growth, light shade and dap­pled canopy of fo­liage. The choice from the 35 species, and many va­ri­eties, al­lows us to se­lect plants for wet soil and for dry, and the fact that trees quickly reach a size where they make an im­pres­sion, yet never cast dense shade, al­lows a wide range of shade­lov­ing plants to be grown be­neath. At this time of year the gleam­ing white bark of many va­ri­eties shines in the low win­ter sun­shine, es­pe­cially when cleaned with soap and wa­ter. The weep­ing growth of some is el­e­gant year round, while yel­low spring catkins stand out against blue spring skies. In au­tumn, the fo­liage of many birches turns bright yel­low – some­times so pre­dictably as to reach its peak on al­most ex­actly the same day each year. The only prob­lem is that birch roots tend to be shal­low and so they take mois­ture from the root zone of shade lov­ing peren­ni­als un­der­neath. For­tu­nately, their rel­a­tively thin canopy al­lows rain to reach the soil and light to en­cour­age a wide range of dap­pled shade lovers.

Po­si­tion Best in open sunny sit­u­a­tions, species vary in their mois­ture pref­er­ences. All are hardy across the coun­try. Most reach about 12-15m in height but cast only light shade. Care Sup­port with a short, stout stake when young. When es­tab­lished, in sum­mer re­move lower branches of those with the bright­est bark to cre­ate a more dra­matic look. Clean the bark with soap and wa­ter in late au­tumn. Where to buy botan­i­ca­plant­nurs­ery.co.uk 01728 747113, cro­cus.co.uk 01344 578111, junker.co.uk 01823 400075, or­na­men­tal-trees.co.uk 01943 660870

PLANT DIRECTORY Find the per­fect Be­tula for your gar­den by us­ing our plant fin­der at gar­den­er­sworld.com/ plant-fin­der

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.