Colorful Stems & Bark

It’s usually this time of year that I “wax poetic” about the colorful contribution of stems and ornamental bark that exists in our landscapes and can certainly be augmented in many cases.  While the Midwest winter landscape is primarily tones of brown, tan and white, colorful stems and bark can offer significant impact.  Conifers add color and form as well and certainly should be considered for their winter interest as well as the role they play throughout the remainder of the year.  However, the attribute of colorful winter stems and/or bark is frequently overlooked and unfortunately not considered.  We are all starved for color after a long winter but that doesn’t mean we should neglect including and enjoying other winter attributes of plants, not only colorful bark and stems but interesting plant form, colorful fruits, etc.  The photo above and below is of a ‘Silver Ghost’ lacebark pine (Pinus bungeana) that I recently saw on the campus of Iowa State University (Ames, IA).  I could see this tree from a great distance due to the chalky white bark which upon closer inspection, reveals some interesting camouflage like patterns (typical for this species although ‘Silver Ghost’ has much more silvering to the bark).  Recent visits to other gardens have been inspiring with ample color provided by colorful stems and bark.  Enjoy this small sample of what winter can offer…

With some snow overnight, the roads were dicey this morning with about 2-3″ coming down.  More snow is on the way but Mother Nature is hopefully aware that spring is only six days away on the calendar!  Most of our activity today was inside the Horticulture Center.  Dr. Gredler, Alan and Bev D. were all involved with painting various structures as we continue to put on 2017 colors over our painted obelisks, etc.  Jim, Marv B. and Steve J. continued assembling new obelisks and we’ll have a healthy crop of 4′, 5′ and 6′ versions for the Spring Plant Sale (Mother’s Day weekend).  Kathy P. helped with a couple projects here and there and Maury ran errands for us.  Gary worked on some projects in the office too.  Dick H. plowed the parking lot and helped Larry O. with some tasks.  Larry O. and Bill O. took care of our snow removal efforts and we also saw Rollie, Maryam, Tryphaena, Bobby K. and many others today.

yellow-stem dogwood (Cornus sp.) – Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI)

‘Bergeson’s Compact’ redosier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera) – Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI)

‘Winter Beauty’ bloodtwig dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) – Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI)

‘Winter Beauty’ bloodtwig dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) – Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI)

‘Swizzlestick’ willow (Salix sp.) – Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI)

Arctic Sun bloodtwig dogwood (Cornus sanguinea ‘Cato’) – Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI)

‘Prairie Fire’ Tatarian dogwood (Cornus alba) – Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI)

‘Britzensis’ scarlet willow (Salix alba subsp. vitellina) – Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI)

Renaissance Reflection® paper birch (Betula papyrifera ‘Renci’) – Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI)

redosier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera) – Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI)

seven-son-flower (Heptacodium miconioides) – Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI)

yellow-stem dogwood (Cornus sp.) – Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI)

paperbark maple (Acer griseum) – Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI)

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