You may wish to plant a tree to give a welcome patch of shade in a sunny garden or to give privacy. You may be looking for a large tree to hide an unsightly view or a small one suitable for a tiny garden. The choice between evergreen and deciduous is important. Mom and Dad have a pleasing combination of both and one of their all time favourties is the Silver Birch.
The Birch tree (Betula) is quite rightly one of the favourite specimen trees. Its graceful growth habit is enhanced by attractive bark which is usaully white. Yellowish green male and female catkins are borne in the spring. The saw-edged diamond shaped leaves flutter in the summer winds and turn yellow in the autumn. They are not difficult trees to grow. They are very hardy and thrive in a wide range of soil types, but you must remember that they are shallow-rooted. Do not underplant them and watering will be necessary during a period of prolonged drought.
The Silver Birch (B. pendula) is known to everyone, attaining a height of approximtely thirty-five feet with pendulous branchlets and white peeling bark. It has several interesting varieties. 'Youngii' is more compact and more weeping and the branches touch the ground. 'Tristis' is tall and narrow with pendent branches. 'Purpurea' has purple leaves and branches. 'Fastigiata' is column-shaped making it ideal for small gardens. The Swedish Birch 'Dalecarlica' is deeply cut, with feathery leaves. There are other Birches apart from B. pendula such as B. albo-sinensis septentrionalis which has red, flaking bark and the bark of B. ermanii is pinkish white.
The Birch trees will grow in any resonable soil in sun or partial shade. In early spring remove any dead wood. To propagate sow seed in a cold frame in spring.
Last year Mom and Dad built a lovely rockery choosing large colourful stones from the fields. They planted perennials, shrubs, trees and peppered the area with annuals. Their choice of evergreens provided the garden with year round interest. My parents have created their own style and kept the plants in proportion to the surrounding landscape and buildings.
Due to vast size of their gardens they have chosen relatively easy plants to maintain. They have mulched the gardens thereby reducing weeding and in many beds planted groundcovers such as Lamium. They have spent numerous years devoted to one of life's greatest hobbies, Gardening!