The brief, grey days of winter within the north, coupled with snow, typically create landscapes that resemble a black and white picture. Winter landscapes needn’t be drab and dreary and might have shade, by selecting vegetation for attention-grabbing bark.
Certainly one of my favourite shrubs for its vivid pink stems is the Crimson-osier dogwood (Cornus sericea). For even higher shade than the species, search for the cultivars (cultivated varieties) ‘Cardinal’. ‘Arctic Fireplace’, and my favourite—Baton Rouge. ‘Flaviramea’ is a typical yellow-stemmed cultivar of this species, however it isn’t as colourful nor as proof against stem cankers because the Tatarian dogwood ‘Bud’s Yellow’ (Cornus alba). For a mix of colours, attempt the much less widespread Bloodtwig dogwood (C. sanguinea) ‘Midwinter Fireplace’ with its vivid yellow-orange stems topped with pink.
Regardless of the choice you select of the bright-stemmed dogwoods, the colour could also be greener in summer season, turning vivid in winter, then again to extra inexperienced subsequent spring. The colour is brightest on year-old stems, so the important thing to retaining good shade is pruning again the oldest stems every spring so new ones will develop that rising season. Shrub dogwoods are hardy, and fairly vigorous given full solar (however can tolerate some shade), and will be pruned to inside a number of inches of the bottom to resume overgrown bushes. They’re adaptable to many soils, tolerating moist ones, and even drought as soon as established. I like to make use of their stems in vacation preparations.
The coral bark willow cultivar ‘Britzensis’ (Salix alba) rivals the shrub dogwoods for stem shade, its year-old stems being red-orange in winter. It, too, is kind of hardy and adaptable as are the shrub dogwoods. Though it could actually develop into a big tree, reduce it again every spring to maintain right into a shorter mound.
For vegetation with the additional benefit of summer season fruit, a number of the brambles have stems with shade. In my backyard, the arching silvery pink stems of a ‘Bristol’ black raspberry distinction properly with the darkish pink upright stems of a ‘Darrow’ blackberry. For the same stem impact to ‘Bristol’, contemplate the Redleaf rose (Rosa glauca) with its waxy purple stems.
Inexperienced is a shade that’s missing in northern winter landscapes, aside from evergreen vegetation, however for a deciduous shrub contemplate the Japanese kerria (Kerria japonica). Hardy to USDA zone 5 (-20 to -10 levels F) and maybe a bit colder, this old school shrub has arching stems and a rounded kind. It has vivid yellow flowers in spring, yellow fall leaves, and vivid inexperienced stems (yellow with inexperienced stripes on the much less widespread cultivar ‘Kin Kan’).
Along with bark shade, some woody vegetation have enticing peeling (“exfoliating”) bark. Most acquainted of such vegetation is the River birch (Betula nigra) with its tan to pink peeling bark at a younger age. Your best option and generally discovered cultivar of River birch is ‘Heritage’. The Himalayan (B. utilis var. jacquemontii) and white birches (B. papyrifera) have white peeling bark. A sensible choice for the latter, proof against the widespread bronze birch borer, is Prairie Dream.
For those who like lilacs, contemplate the Peking lilac (Syringa pekinensis) and its cultivar ‘China Snow’ with shiny, coppery bark that peels in strips. Flowers are in mid-June, a creamy white extra much like the tree lilac than the widespread lilac.
Slower rising than birch or the Peking lilac, and hardy to USDA zone 5, is the Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum). This selection panorama plant makes a small tree, with cinnamon peeling papery bark in winter. Because the peeling impact can fluctuate with the plant, select ones at your native nursery with the perfect bark. Search for the cultivar Gingerbread whose leaves flip vivid pink in fall, and is quicker rising than the species.
Species of Stewartia with peeling bark that’s mottled brown, gold and grey embody the Korean (Stewartia korena) and the Japanese (S. pseudocamellia). Because the title of the latter signifies, the white summer season flowers resemble camellias. One other bonus on these is the pink to orange fall leaf shade. For those who dwell in USDA zone 5 or hotter, contemplate these.
For a extra uncommon massive shrub or small tree, search for the Seven Sons flower (Heptacodium miconioides). A comparatively latest introduction from China, this selection plant will be seen in mass on the Chinese language backyard on the Montreal Botanical Gardens. The small, aromatic white flowers bloom in September. The bark peels in lengthy, vertical strips to create a tan and brown impact. Seven Sons are hardy into USDA zone 4b (-20 to -25 levels F).
Bark on some small bushes might not peel however remains to be fairly enticing. A few my favorites are cherries– the paperbark (Prunus serrula) and the Amur chokecherry (P. maackii). They’re comparatively quick rising, with shiny cinnamon bark. The latter is commonly short-lived because of weak department construction or girdling roots, however one I had lasted over 20 years. I had it (and now its alternative of the identical) planted in our entrance yard the place we will see its lovely bark, and the place the birds can land on their solution to our feeders. It has amazed me what number of holes within the bark it could actually face up to because of woodpeckers and sapsuckers!
The European hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) has grey, muscle-like bark and is hardy to zone 4. Associated to the bright-stemmed dogwoods, however much less hardy (zone 5) is the kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa). Its bark is a patchwork of grey, tan, brown, and orange.
Search for these and different shrubs and bushes with a lovely bark when including vegetation to your panorama. They’ll present curiosity lengthy after flowers and leaves are carried out with their present.
Dr. Leonard Perry, Horticulture Professor Emeritus
College of Vermont