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Trees: Betula – Utilis versus Pendula

betula utilis jacquemontii bark

The Betula or more commonly known Birch are a genus of around 60 species of deciduous [their leaves fall off in winter, in short] trees that grow extremely well in our Irish climate. By its soft leaved foliage I find it quite feminine in feel and appearance which works really well in softening any landscape or building exterior.

All of our photosynthetic friends have in them at least one outstanding trait for which we want to grow them. In this case, it is without question the birch’s bark. But, like all things great, you get what you pay for and there is always a reason why one is cheaper than the other as I will discuss shortly.

Asking for a Birch, just like any plant, needs to be a lot more definitive. It’s got more than 60 relations of the same second name remember. To these two fellows: The difference between Betula utilis and Betula pendula – couldn’t be that much ? You might be surprised.

Betula utilis

The Himalayan birch is an absolute stunner. As it matures from a young main stem to a tree like trunk its skin peels and develops from a rusty orange tinged brown to a soft pinkish white, then further maturing to a bright smooth as you like, white paper skin.

Although it will do so anyway, I always love the fact that you can peel it off like a bad roll of sellotape. The utilis types are upright [ ie. go against gravity] by their appearance and habit and can grow to about 60′ tall. I have 5 in my garden – worth every single cent and centimetre .

  • recommended: Betula utilis ‘Jacquemontii’

Betula pendula

The main trait of the Betual Pendula types is that they are all [think about it… pendula, pendulum ~ ie. swing ~ ie. must hang ~ as versus upright] weeping trees by their nature. That said they can still grow up to 80′ tall.

Far more important than that however is that they have a glitch, a flaw in their character. Like the way I’ve never not met a Jack Russell without a dodgy back leg; as the tree matures it’s bark cracks and the newly maturing and indented creases of the bark then turn to black.

In the not so pretty department, it’s not only the bark that’s a bit brutish in appearance and touch as you’ll find the stems of its foliage suffer a similar effect.In comparison, it can be a little scraggy, depending, and just doesn’t cut the mustard in the same way the Betula utilis ‘jacquemontii’ does.

  • recommended: Betula pendula ‘youngii’

Notes:

The key to developing that white bark all over is the crown raising. Strip the lower branches bare, like a telegraph pole and try as best as possible to retain only one leader. this I should add and double underline, is something that is so very important and really should be considered when first selecting and choosing the trees for purchase. The wounds will heal over and what may [possibly] seem a little unfair will pay its dividends.

More information and enquiries:

betula utilis jacquemontii bark

Garden Ideas: 5 Uses of Mirror in Garden Design

peter donegan mirror

Mirrors are a great way to brighten up any garden and add that extra added and varying dimension to your space outdoors. The following are 5 examples of how I have used mirrors in gardens to change, for the greater a gardens space.

If you have an area which needs that little something to brighten it up, this should get the mind flowing and maybe thinking in a slightly different light.

1. Surrounded by Walls on all Sides

garden mirrors

This garden area is walled in on all four sides making available light almost at a premium. To change that, three of the walls in this garden were painted white whilst one was covered with three full length, slightly separated mirrors. The light increase now as the sun moves around is phenomenal. More than that, it made the garden interesting and the views so different depending on where you stood. Brighter for the better on so many levels.

2. Low Level Light Reflection

garden mirror

With lights installed at ground level a 4 metre wide paved area separates the light source from the  mirror surface installed on the far side. This allows the light, as you see it in the image, to be viewed from a very different angle. Extremely effective at night and made even better by choice planting which dappled the lights shadows as the winds movement caused it to appear to flicker.

3. The Small Courtyard Garden

garden mirror

This small courtyard is around 1 metre by 3.5 metres in size. Raised beds in place the mirror choice allowed the transformation from a dull and non descript potential no mans land to one were dappled planting gave it just that extra added dimension. The photograph was taken from inside the kitchen area and the rain at the time dapples the image captured slightly.

4. Mirror Garden Surface Furniture

mirror garden furniture

Sometimes less is more and this table top covering was just enough to create a little intrigue from one point within the garden. On a non garden design side note, the use of mirror here also ensured a clean easy of the eating area. That aside, personally [and although I might have been told off for it in my youth], I liked it most when my elbows rested on it.

5. The Narrow Garden Space

garden mirror

Just at the point where the garden narrows and the design may appear like it has just, well… ended. In this case this garden very simply needed that something to take ones eye away from a path that I was not able to change nor move – [client is king]. Note the distance it created as you look at it. Simple, yet effective.

mirror n 1 a sheet of glass with a metal coating on its back, that reflects an image of an object placed in front of it

More info:

peter donegan

The SodShow. Irish Garden Radio & Podcast. Friday October 14th

The Sodshow Garden Podcast – every Friday – in iTunes, www.sodshow.com all good podcast stores.

The SodShow. Irish Garden Radio & Podcast. Friday October 14th (mp3)

The SodShow – with Peter Donegan & Brian Greene – Every Friday 3pm – Live

brian greene, peter donegan

Listen to The SodShow Live @ 3pm:

  • Tune in: 103.2fm on your radio dial if you are in the Dublin area
  • Listen live online: every Friday 3pm via TuneIn.com – on your phone or desktop

With thanks to this weeks Guest:

fingal living history fingal living history

Listen Later:

Making Contact:

the sodshow

About The SodShow:

The SodShow, Dublin City’s Garden Radio Show with landscape gardener Peter Donegan and armchair gardener Brian Greene airs on Dublin City FM Friday’s at 3PM.

Join Peter & Brian for an alternative view of all things outdoors with studio guests, field recordings, educational talks in a fun and unique garden radio style. With tools, plants & garden work for the week and trip to Dublin’s famous and well hidden parks & gardens the SodShow is fast growing to be a permanent fixture on Dublin’s radio dial since its launch in March 2011.

The SodShow is quite unique in that it started life as a popular podcast crossing over to live radio due to its growing demand.

Forget those Botanical Latin names (the presenters do as a rule) and roll up your sleeves. From gardening with a window box in an apartment to camping at oxegen, from chitting potatoes to making elderflower champagne you get it all on Dublin’s zaniest radio show.

The Sodshow is podcasted, blogged, streamed and live tweeted to the world via its internet site: http://blog.DoneganLandscaping.com/category/podcast

update: Nominated for Award next Friday 22nd october 2011

Irish Garden Radio – The SodShow – 103.2 Fm

The Sodshow Garden Podcast – every Friday – in iTunes, www.sodshow.com all good podcast stores.

Listen!
Listen to The SodShow in MP3 – or – subscribe/ listen to the podcast in iTunes. Alternatively, subscribe to the blog and listen to them right here. Missed The SodShow May 6th 2011

The SodShow – Fridays 3pm – 103.2 Dublin City Fm

With thanks to this weeks guests:

Listen Later:

Making Contact:

Listen Live:

  • Tune in: 103.2fm on your radio dial if you are in the Dublin area
  • Listen online: every Friday 3pm just click t9.ie/SodShow
  • or: visit www.dublincityfm.ie and click the listen button
  • also: use the hashtag #SodShow

Thanks for listening to Dublins only Garden Radio Show ;)

The Sodcast – Episode 14

sodshow, garden podcast

The Sodshow Garden Podcast – every Friday – in iTunes, www.sodshow.com all good podcast stores.

Listen to The Sodcast in MP3 – or subscribe/ listen to the podcast in iTunes. Alternatively, subscribe to the blog and listen to them right here. Missed Episode 13 of the garden podcast ?

First Up:

Fancy a little bit of fancy in your great outdoors….? You can contact me on….

This Week On The Blog:

Images For The Podcast:

Links For The Podcast:

An Introduction to Shawna Coronado

Shawna’s links for the podcast:

This Weeks Oddities:

via @bbcscitech Tree diseases ‘on the rise’ in UK http://bbc.in/9QwXvB
Courtesy @SimonPRepublic and @colmtobin
It’d be a sad day for our democracy if you weren’t allowed dump a tin of paint over a woman digging a hole in a field.

EuropaBio tells me  Crop World 2010: Support growing for GMs in Europe http://ow.ly/34g6P

From last Saturdays The Irish Times Weekend magazine, Jane Powers article is well worth a read. It’s on says Jane
urban hedges, and I manage to slip in the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band too http://bit.ly/db3CT3

Via @ScienceGallery Green (war) Machines: US navy completes successful test on boat powered by algae http://ow.ly/30IBw

And Finally: