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Beautiful Bark and Stunning Stems!

Some inspirational gardening ideas by Cathie from Cathie’s Gardening School.

I was inspired to write this article after a New Year’s Walk around Harold Hillier’s Garden over Christmas. We so often plan our gardens using plants that flower for about five minutes and the odd shrub for structure. I thought how often people overlook the trees and shrubs that exhibit amazing colour throughout the year, particularly in Winter.

Cathie’s top 5 trees with amazing bark.

All these trees can be planted as specimens in the lawn or flower bed and complemented with low planting but try not to mask the stem!

  1. Betula utilis ‘Jacquemontii’. This incredible tree is one of many birches but this one has particularly stunning white bark. I have known gardeners to wash their trees to show them off to their best advantage. A yearly gardening task perhaps not even considered by most readers!
  2. Prunus serrula. This is a flowering cherry which unlike others provides some winter interest too. It’s bark looks like polished red wood. The dots on the trunk are called lenticels and help the tree to breathe.
  3. Acer griseum. Otherwise known as the paper bark maple. The trunk is chocolate brown and peels naturally and delightfully, hence it’s name.
  4. Acer x conspicuum ‘Phoenix’. This has bright red bark and even trunk as it develops. It is quite unusual so don’t expect to pick it up at your local garden centre!
  5. Acer pensylvanicum ‘Erythrocladum’. When I first saw this mature tree at Hillier’s garden I couldn’t quite believe it. The trunk is golden even when the tree is mature. Needless to say I have now sourced one that is lovingly potted on my patio!

Stunning stems

A trip to Wisley lake at this time of year is quite an amazing experience and photographers dream. There are stems in every colour to stimulate the senses and not a flower on them.

Rubus cockburnianus (I kid you not!) is the ghost bramble and looks as though it has been whitewashed. There are black willows, golden willows and orange as well as green. Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’ is a great favourite and every garden should have one. The clue is in the name and stems of yellow and orange brighten any garden in the depths of winter. The dogwoods come in many shades of green, yellow, orange, black and red and you can imagine how delightful underplanted with Ophiopogon or snowdrops and Hellebores.

Bamboos if selected carefully for the right location can also provide structure and sound throughout the year. The do need to have the lower leaves trimmed away to expose the stems and magnificent specimens can be found in many gardens. Most people have heard of the black bamboo but there are also golden varieties, greens stemmed ones and my favourite green and golden stripes!

Help and Advice

Always on hand at Cathie’s Gardening School which is based at Squires Garden Centre at Secretts of Milford. We offer courses and workshops on many subjects including garden design, maintenance, willow weaving, pruning and many others. Everyone is welcome and it’s a great social day out too!

Please ask for details of day and morning workshops that might be of interest to you.

Workshops and home consultancy visits are available to give as gifts to be selected by the recipient and are valid for a year.

Tel : 07931 925 382

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