This weekend we took a trip with my family to the National Botanic Gardens, Wales, and I came away with another birthday gift from my Mum and Dad.

This stunning cornus alba hedgerow (please forgive its rather incongruous surroundings) has variegated cream and green leaves that blush a deep red at this time of year, on handsome dark red stems.  Cutting it back hard in March should encourage strong growth of these lovely stems for a striking display next winter.

It’s currently taking shelter on a breeze block amid the debris at the side of the house until we find it a permanent place in the emerging garden. As for the botanic gardens, I took hundreds of photos, which I shall try to edit down for a post (or two!) later in the week.

King of the Hill further enjoyed the sunshine this weekend to take a saw to our birch tree which stands along the south border of our garden next to the shed and was rather dominating the plot. Late autumn to midwinter is the ideal time to prune birches, which have a tendency to bleed heavily if pruned when the sap is rising. Some hard pruning has opened the tree up and brought it back to a more manageable size and graceful shape, cutting it back to one central leader, with its two gnarled side-trunks cut back – and not a drop of sap. We shall take these right back to the main trunk next weekend to encourage a more slender graceful form. Thick ropes of ivy branches still twist around the trunk of the tree, which we also need to clear to reveal its papery bark in all its glory. Another task for next weekend.

Last year, my parents bought us a sapling of another birch, betula utilis var. jacquemontii Trinity College, which we intend to plant a little closer to the house along the same border. Its gleaming white stem as it matures should form a wonderful backdrop to the winter fire of the cornus stems. I love the light foliage of these trees in summer too.


6 thoughts on “Birch

  1. Hi Sara; Birthday wishes! So you’re a fan of the old Dogwood too eh? That variegated one looks very special. I’ve been out trying to capture the “essence” of Dogwood today. The afternoon sun made it look amazing, but I’ve been struggling with an unfamiliar camera – my wife’s one, on temporary loan because mine has gone U/S. Can’t wait for the DSLR which I know is going to be my Christmas present!

    • Thanks Mark. Wow, you must be very excited about your DSLR to be! I look forward to even more spectacular photos. I hope to learn to use my husband’s DSLR soon, when time allows, and pinch that for garden pictures 🙂

  2. Dear Sara – many Happy Returns … though perhaps a little early/late? Did think of you yesterday though as I was perusing Apple trees

    What a busy weekend with tree chopping too. King of the Hill (great name so you must be Queen 😉 ) did a good job and how lucky to have been given that silver ghost of the garden – Betulus.

    best wishes

    Laura x

  3. Thank you dear Laura.
    Ooh are you buying apple trees for your garden?
    It was a very busy weekend indeed, but lovely. And the tree seems to be surviving the rather drastic assault upon it, which was always a worry! Such lovely trees, I like your description as a silver ghost of the garden. My husband has his eye on the horse chestnut and beech tree next, though hopefully they only require a little maintenance!
    Sara x

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