The birches are a large genus of about 60 deciduous trees and shrubs. They are popular in gardens because of the colour of their bark, the delicacy of their foliage and the fact that many, at least in their initial stages, are relatively small and fit well into small gardens. They also benefit from being trouble-free and donít require pruning, unless they eventually get too big.
The bark is the main attraction. In many species it is white, sometimes pure white and in others warmed with a tinge of pink or bronze. The tree regularly sheds the outer layer of its bark to reveal the pristine colours beneath. Some gardeners go so far as to wash the trunk to keep it white. The leaves in most species are small and not particularly dense, giving the tree a delicate airy look. This produces a good dappled light for sitting under.
The flowers are carried in spring in yellow-brown catkins of varying lengths depending on the species. Some birches self sow and can become a nuisance. Plant in a prominent position where the bark can be appreciated either by itself or against a green background. Plant in a well-drained soil.