There are many plants that provide striking ornamental bark during the winter months, many of which create wonderful, structural form too. If you visit the nursery at this time of year, you will spot several of them planted in our borders, their stunning colours a sight to behold against a cold winter backdrop or beautiful crisp-blue sky.
Acer rufinerve ‘Albolimbatum’, also known as the Grey Snake-Bark Maple, is a slow growing, deciduous tree with conspicuous green and white striated bark. Reaching an ultimate height of 4-8 metres in 10-20 years, it will be happy in sun or partial shade.
Salix alba ‘Hutschinson’s Yellow’ is a stunning tree at this time of year. It is planted near our chapel in the private gardens where its golden yellow stems provide fabulous winter colour. Every April we prune back hard to ensure the best stem colour: a good tree choice for planting in groups, near water, in full sun.
Betula utilis. var. jacquemontii ‘Snow Queen’ is a much improved form of jacquemontii, which we have available as a single stem or multi-stemmed tree. Within two years it produces lovely white, exfoliating bark and will reach an ultimate height of 7 metres in 20 years. With its slender form, and hardy nature, it is an ideal choice in the garden. It also offers good autumn colour, when strong yellow hues tint the serrated foliage.
Prunus serrula AGM also known as the Tibetan cherry, or Birch Bark Cherry, this is a special tree for all seasons and is particularly noted for its impressive, glossy, mahogany coloured, peeling bark which appears flame-like when backlit by low winter sun. It has an upright habit when young and is a good specimen tree for a sunny situation.
Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ AGM ( Dogwood) is a deciduous shrub with slender, brilliant crimson stems in winter and dark green foliage which colours well in autumn.
Cornus stolonifera ‘Flaviramea’ AGM is a vigorous, deciduous shrub with fabulous butter-yellow bark in winter that contrasts well when planted with red-barked varieties of dogwood.
Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ is a small, colourful, compact shrub with very bright stems in winter. Shoots begin as yellow-orange when young and develop brilliant red tips through the season. Preferring a moist site, this variety will grow to a height of 2 metres and is particularly attractive when planted in groups.
As the colour of the young growth of these Cornus varieties is particularly vivid, stems should be pruned back hard every year in early spring. A sunny position is also recommended as this allows deeper colour to develop.
(Blog post written by Jo Chamberlain)