Deciduous trees we take for granted all spring and summer stand out like ink drawings against the winter sky. Choosing trees with interesting bark can add interest to the winter garden
River birch (Betula nigra)
River birch is a tall native tree that makes a great ornamental for winter interest in the landscape because of its graceful form and attractive, colorful exfoliating bark. Multi-stemmed trees form a more irregular shaped crown, and are often considered the superior growth habit for this tree. The bark on the trunk varies a lot among individual plants, ranging in color from silvery gray-brown to pinkish-brown when young, but always with darker, narrow, longitudinal lenticels. It is either scaly or peels off in curly papery sheets or flakes of gray, brown, salmon, peach, orange, and lavender. More mature trunks are rough and irregularly dark gray with deep fissures that may have some pink color in the crevices. River birch performs well in sun to partial shade but needs evenly moist soil and may become chlorotic in alkaline soils. Zones 4-9.
Shadows become longer and more prominent in winter as the sun drops lower in the sky and the days become shorter in winter.
Not all deciduous trees drop their leaves when fall comes. This white oak retains its dry leaves throughout most of the winter, creating a tan accent in the garden.
Pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)