DARE TO GO BARE; Bare needn't be boring.Trees and shrubs with colourful and peeling bark will bring your winter garden alive...
MAKE your winter border the talk of the town with a collection of bright redstemmed dogwoods, such as cornus alba sibirica, against a backdrop of evergreen, shrubs, such as euonymus fortune Emerald 'n' Gold. It will look even more impressive if it's planted through a carpet of flowering heathers.
Expert tip: For best stem colour, cut a third of the dogwood stems back to ground level each spring before the buds break and apply a generous 2-3in mulch of well-rotted garden compost around the base of the plant.
pounds How much? Dogwood pounds 4.80, Euonymous pounds 4.99 each (www.jacksonsnurseries.co.uk, 01782 502741).
THE golden bamboo, phyllostachys aureocaulis is great for urban gardens where you want to screen the walls of tall buildings. It has rich buttery yellow canes marked with random green splodges and glossy green leaves, which weigh down the canes, causing them to arch.
Expert tip: The bamboo spreads slowly by runners but if you want to restrict its movement plant it in a large container, which can be buried, or surround the roots with a non-perishable barrier.
pounds How much? pounds 35 (www.deserttojungle.com, 01823 443701).
THE silver birch is a lovely tree for a small garden. It has wonderful white peeling bark and a neat habit, which can be stylishly upright or elegantly weeping. It looks stunning all year round, but especially on grey winter days when its bare branches are clothed with swinging catkins.
Expert tip: Look out for betula jacquemontii, which has the most striking white bark and grow it as a beautiful specimen tree. For an even more impressive display, plant several or buy a multi-stemmed tree.
pounds How much? From pounds 14.99 (www.mailordertrees.co.uk, 0800 066 5972).
THE snow-gum eucalyptus makes an imposing evergreen tree with fantastic grey, green and cream patchwork bark, which begins to attractively peel and flake on semi-mature plants. It's ideal in a medium-size lawn where you can appreciate its shapely silhouette.
Expert tip: Annual pruning can maintain eucalyptus as large shrubs, keeping a supply of the juvenile foliage, which is useful for flower arranging. pounds How much? pounds 11.50 (www.burncoose.co.uk, 01209 860316).
THE ghost bramble, rubus thibetanus silver fern, is a must-have as its purplish prickly stems are heavily bloomed with white and shine on the dullest of days. The arching stems are particularly eyecatching exploding from a carpet of black grass, ophiopogon nigrescens.
Expert tip: To prevent the plant outgrowing its space and to encourage it to produce the best winter colour, every two years prune the stems back hard in early spring so they are 1ft from the ground.
pounds How much? pounds 9.50 (www.bluebellnursery.com, 01530 413700).
THE Tibetan cherry, prunus serrula, is not a very big tree and so it makes an excellent choice for a small garden where space and light are both limited. The sheer beauty of the cherry's shiny, mahogany red bark means that it deserves to be made centre of attention.
Expert tip: The tree will tolerate most fertile soils in full or part sun and, as the narrow, oval leaves do not create thick shade, you can plant a range of shade tolerant plants beneath. pounds How much? pounds 44.99 for 10-litre pot (www.crocus.co.uk, 0844 557 2244).
THE snake bark maple, acer grosseri, can be grown as an impressive, multi-stemmed shrub or, better still, grow it as a small, slim tree with arching branches whose distinctive green and white striped and bumpy bark are even more noticeable in winter.
Expert tip: Planted in any soil that benefits from good drainage and is sheltered from cold winds, this interesting tree will brighten up any space in your garden.
You'll find acer grosseri is especially attractive in the autumn when the tree's dark foliage gradually turns to a vivid orange and red. The leaves will look particularly striking against the unusual and decorative snake bark.
pounds How much? From pounds 25.95 (www.ornamentaltrees.co.uk, 01568 708016).
ACER griseum, the paper bark maple, is one of the best-loved small trees as it has year-round appeal with spring flowers and smallish maplelike leaves that go on to turn brilliant shades of orange and red in autumn. The striking bark resembles the colour of cinnamon and peels away naturally in thin layers. Plant it in full view of your windows so you can enjoy the display of it undressing all year round.
Expert tip: The acer is slow growing and a young tree may take years to fill out to make a specimen plant. For best results, plant in partial shade in a moist, well-drained fertile patch. Come spring, top-dress the surrounding soil with a mulch.
pounds How much? pounds 34.99 (www.mailordertrees.co.uk, 0800 066 5972).
Bamboo Dogwood Eucalyptus Silver birch Ghost bramble Cherry Maple Striking colours and shapes light up a winter border Acer