Cuttings: Bring up the birch
Saturday 29 January 1994
We polish our young birch trunks at this time of year, to bring out the colouring. Older trees are too corrugated to show improvement, but young, smooth bark repays the effort. A gentle scrub with a soft brush will remove winter lichen and greenness, and a hose-down afterwards will leave the trunk sparkling.
The Himalayan birch, Betula utilis var. jaquemontii, is always the most impressive; it is pure, waxy, chalk-white, and the colouring runs out on to the branches (although we draw the line at scrubbing them).
Less conspicuous but more seductive is Betula albo-sinensis var. septentrionalis (no common name, I'm afraid), whose bark is a satin-sheened, coppery pink, reminiscent of Ginger Rogers's legs at their best. We wash them with reverence and admire the glow.
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