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October 22, 2011

Tree bark enlivens the garden every season of the year

- by Debra Anchors

It’s easy to look at a tree and take little notice of its bark – easy, but odd in light of bark’s many gifts. Rubber, cork, varnish, frankincense, myrrh and even chewing gum are all derived from bark, as are medicines such as quinine (the salvation of malaria sufferers) and witch hazel. Your garden center will have a nice variety of trees known for their decorative bark and fall is the perfect time to plant one.

Gardeners value bark for its fascinating good looks (and sometimes for its usefulness as mulch) than for its economic potential. Thin or thick, paper-like or deeply textured, bark can be relied on to enliven landscapes even in the dead of winter. Snow clings to bark and sunshine bounces off its richly textured surface. Bark colors vary widely, with lichens enhancing the composition as the years go by. Because bark’s inner layer delivers life-sustaining nutrients and oxygen, it pays to protect young trees. Under-plantings of ground covers, ferns and hostas will keep lawn mowers and foot traffic at a safe distance.

Koreana Stewartia  (Stewartia  Pteropetiolata):  A palette of tan, emerald, lime and gray highlights the mottled surface of this tree. The rich colors persist throughout the year – Zones 5, 6 and 7

Paperback Cherry (Prunus Serrula):  Boasts paper-thin, mahogany-hued bark that glistens when the sun hits it – Zones 5 and 6

Paperback Maple (Acer Griseum):  Displays its exfoliating bark characteristic while the tree is still young. In winter, snow clings to the tree’s peeling cinnamon-hued surface, adding interest to the landscape – Zones 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8

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1 comment:

  1. Excellent reminder of the texture, color and dimension-enhancing visual interest brought by a variety of tree types among the gardens & landscape!


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