Deciduous tree originally from the Himalayas, grown for its striking white bark in winter, but which also displays beautiful golden yellow foliage in autumn and pretty catkins in the spring. Some garden writers refer to the trunks’ whiteness as ‘ghostly’, which is perhaps excessively Victorian gothick, but there is no denying its incredible effect, especially when the tree is planted en masse and – as is practised in gardens such as Anglesey Abbey – if the trunks are brushed clean in the autumn (see also the entry on Cornus alba ‘Baton Rouge’). Will reach 15m x 8m if grown as a standard specimen, but closer to 8m x 5m if grown as a mulstistem tree. There are numerous cultivars with various degrees of whiteness and smoothness, that can sometimes be difficult to differentiate from the species.
H x S: 15m x 8m
Aspect and soil: Unfussy but best in full sun or part shade, in moderately fertile, moist but well-drained or well-drained soil.
Use: Use as single specimen is possible but for best effect, plant them in a small group of three or as a grove. Multistem form is particularly elegant.
Cultivation: No particular requirement other than removing dead, diseased or broken branches in late autumn.
Betula utilis multistem, Regent’s Park, June 2021