10 Trees and Shrubs with Colorful Bark

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Tatarian Dogwood with its red bark

Mike Kirby, via Wikimedia Commons




By Patricia Mosher

While our gardens are snoozing this month, it’s easy to forget that bark, (yes, bark!), can add colour and texture to a landscape throughout the growing season, even into the depths of winter. The following suggestions will add a surprising amount of vertical intrigue to your garden all year round but have extra-special appeal at this time of year.

1. Golden Curls Willow – A small version of the weeping willow that produces branches that weep gracefully downward, curling and twisting, all while retaining a golden-yellow glow throughout the winter months.
2. Coral-Bark Japanese Maple – These small maples are grown for their extraordinarily vibrant foliage, as well as their bright, coral-red bark, adding a much-cherished splash of colour in the winter landscape.
3. Black Cherry – The inner bark and leaves were once used by early settlers to make tonics, cough syrups and sedatives. The bark of the Black Cherry separates into square shaped scales and is said to resemble burnt potato chips.
4. Red Osier Dogwood – Vibrant red stems add a brilliant pop of color throughout the snowy, dull months of winter. Look for dogwood stems peeking through the snow throughout the Alta Vista area.
5. Tatarian Dogwood (Bud’s Yellow) – This cultivar of Dogwood reaches 5’ tall and wide. The striking yellow twigs will add winter interest to the landscape and contrast beautifully with Red Osier Dogwood.
6. Striped-bark Maple – This somewhat shrubby, slow-growing hybrid maple is grown primarily for its showy, striped bark. The color of the bark can vary from purple and red to green depending on the cultivar, but all have attractive vertical, silvery-white stripes.
7. Carolina Silverbell – A beautiful small tree best suited for shady locations with acidic soil. In younger trees, the bark is a red-brown color with white streaks organized into a roughly diamond pattern. Older trees radiate an interwoven pattern of thick, scaly bark with ridges and furrows, streaked with red.
8. Shagbark Hickory – These trees derive their unique name from the interesting peeling bark they bear. Strips of the tree’s bark curl outward in a sloping fashion, providing the trunk with a unique texture.
9. Silver Birch – This weeping ornamental tree is well known for its paper-thin, white bark and is found throughout our neighborhood. As the trees mature, the bark develops dark, diamond-shaped fissures.
10. Paperbark Maple – A relatively small deciduous maple tree that provides unique beauty to the landscape year-round thanks to its gorgeous fall color and its peeling, copper-orange to reddish-brown bark (quite unusual for maples).

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