Barking Up the Right Tree

The winter months are a great time of year to appreciate some of the subtle (or not so subtle) contributions in the winter landscape.  Winter interest in our gardens is vital and may include ornamental grasses, colorful stems, ornamental fruits, colorful conifers and certainly ornamental bark.  This blog shows just a few of the many options out there for ornamental bark on woody trees which while a contributor during other months…becomes “front and center” in a winter landscape dominated by whites, browns and greys.  I should mention that some of these featured trees, like the paperbark maple (Acer griseum) seen both above and below can be touchy in terms of hardiness so be sure to research your selections for applicability in our climate and in your own landscape (soils, siting, sheltering, etc.).  Variable bark features may include descriptions like colorful, peeling/exfoliating, corky, knobby, thorned, etc. which to me, becomes a visual feature of interest and worthy of consideration.  Although some of the photos below are not taken in winter, I think you’ll be able to envision the “effect” this bark would have out in the winter landscape.

We had a nice turnout of volunteers today.  Larry O. and Bill O. worked on some snow removal as well as myriad other projects including bringing in our trash bins and other elements for winter re-painting.  Larry H. and Peg L. were in again to remove lights and cords from the Holiday Lights Show (HLS) layout in the gardens.  They have done a nice job and this specific duo has spent significant time out in the snow over the last four weeks!  Pat M. continued processing lights inside and has his system down “pat” (get it?).  Cindy came in to help with some office work and our Horticultural Therapy Committee met later in the afternoon. We also saw Curt T. and some others today.  I have started ordering seeds and plants in earnest as availability becomes a serious consideration as we head in to February.

 paperbark maple (Acer griseum) at Anderson Japanese Garden (Rockford, IL)
 three-flower maple (Acer triflorum)
 three-flower maple (Acer triflorum) at Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI)
three-flower maple (Acer triflorum) at Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI)
river birch (Betula nigra ‘Heritage’)


 Renaissance Reflection paper birch (Betula papyrifera) grove at Olbrich Botanical Gardens
 paper birch (Betula papyrifera) above and below


 China Snow Peking lilac (Syringa pekinensis ‘Morton’) both above and below


Amur chokecherry (Prunus maackii) above
 persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)
 hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) both above and below


 Eye Stopper corktree (Phellodendron lavallei ‘Longenecker’)
shagbark hickory (Carya ovata)
 young trunk of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris)
 lacebark pine (Pinus bungeana) above and two photos below