Few trees are more spectacular in winter than birches (Betula). Tall, slender and elegant, they lavishly exhibit their peeling bark in a rich display of stark white, salmon-pink, copper, cinnamon-red or glistening chestnut brown. A most welcomed sight during the dreary winter months! Birches are also wonderful in the spring and summer as their graceful, airy crowns are draped with catkins and their small pointed leaves rustle in the slightest breeze. Fall brings glorious golden shades to their foliage before it sheds to the ground. Impervious to cold and wet, easy to grow, low maintenance and deer resistant, birches are terrific additions to the landscape. Often grown as specimen trees, they look spectacular when planted in groups of three or more.
- Birches are shallow rooted, therefore many herbaceous plants may struggle when planted close to their roots.
- Grow your birches with plants that create cheerful sceneries and will help you enjoy the winter season in a beautiful new way.
- Shrubs: use brilliant Cornus (Dogwood) such as 'Midwinter Fire', 'Annie's Winter Orange' or 'Cardinal'. Bright scarlet Nandina domestica (Heavenly Bamboo), low-growing variegated evergreens such as Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald'n Gold (Wintercreeper), or fragrant Hamamelis (Witch Hazel) are other striking alternatives.
- Perennials: choose colorful Helleborus (Hellebores) and Erica (Heath) for winter sparkles. Among spring bloomers that will punch up the show are Ajuga reptans (Carpet Bugle), Aquilegia (Columbines), Dicentras (Bleeding Heart), Paeonia (Peonies), Polygonatum (Solomons' Seal), Primula (Primrose), Pulmonarias. Carrying the summer display are Astilbes, Geraniums (Cranesbill), Hostas or Thalictrum (Meadow Rue).
- Grasses: Carex (Sedges), striking Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' (Black Mondo Grass), elegant Stipa tenuissima (Mexican Feather Grass) or the grass-looking evergreen perennial, Luzula sylvatica (Greater Wood Rush), with its delicate ribbon-like, glossy foliage loosely clumped into handsome tussocks.
- Groundcovers: surround your birch with foliage plants such as Asarum europaeum (European Wild Ginger), Hedera Helix (English Ivy) or Vinca minor (periwinkle).
- Ferns: Athyrium filix femina (Lady Fern), Blechnum spicant (Hard Fern), Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern), Osmunda regalis (Royal Fern) or Polystichum setiferum (Soft Shield Fern) create arresting combinations with their graceful fronds.
- Flowering Bulbs: plant low-growing bulbs such as Cyclamen coum, Galanthus (Snowdrop), Crocus, Convallaria majalis (Lily of the Valley), Scilla (Squill), Eranthis hyemalis (Winter Aconite), Erythronium (Dog-tooth Violet), Hyacinthoides (Bluebell) and Narcissi (Daffodil). They will create a flowering carpet and provide eye-catching color to your garden at a time when it is still dormant. Interplant Cyclamen heridifolium (Ivy-Leaved Cyclamen) to enjoy a lovely fall display and create a powerful statement.