notes from the garden
December 14th, 2010
When designing for winter interest naturally you think of evergreens and ornamental grasses.Â While these can be two important components of the winter garden, there are a lot of plants that are left out.Â Using evergreens and ornamental grasses as a backdrop to deciduous plants with interesting bark can combine to create a truly exceptional winter garden. Red and yellow twig dogwood (Cornus sp.) in front of ornamental grasses or evergreens will allow the brightly colored branches to stand out.Â The younger stems are the brightest in color, so be sure to prune to rejuvenate growth each year.
Perhaps one of the most popular trees for it interesting bark, is the River Birch (Betula nigra).Â Known for its shiny brown bark in youth, which becomes creamy colored and peels off in large thin sheets as it ages.Â For similar appeal in smaller spaces, the aptly named Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum) is a perfect fit.Â Growing to a height of 20 feet with a similar spread, this tree is named for its cinnamon colored bark which exfoliates in thin, curled strips.Â For an even smaller space, a shrub with exfoliating bark is the Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia).Â Itâ€™s bark peels more with age and also has a cinnamon coloration.
Though, bark does not have to be exfoliating to provide interest.Â The Blue Beech (Carpinus caroliniana) is the perfect example.Â It has smooth gray bark, with a sinewy, muscle-like rippling (often referred to as a Musclewood Tree).
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