BETULA continued
last updated 17/12/2017

BETULA utilis var. jacquemontii 'Doorenbos'    
This is one of the original selections of Silver Birch and the standard against which all others are compared. Often incorrectly known simply as Betula jacquemontii, this is the plant many people associate with the concept of winter bark interest. Many birch have contrasting colours between the inside and outside of the outer layer of bark that peels off to reveal a new layer. In 'Doorenbos', everything is fundamentally white, though the very newly exposed under-layer can be a little cream initially, soon becoming white when exposed to the air. More or less upright in habit, this selection develops into a tall and elegant tree. As with so many birch, the detail of the shape, whether it has a single or multiple trunks will be determined by the starting shape and if or how it's subsequently pruned. It can simply be left to grow naturally to form a fabulous specimen.
See it in our Winter Garden.

BETULA utilis var. jacquemontii 'Fastigiate' 
As the name suggests, an upright, columnar selection giving a pillar of the beautiful white bark. This is the narrowest, most upright selection with white bark.
See it in our Winter Garden and at the top of the Quarry Garden.

BETULA utilis var. jacquemontii 'Grayswood Ghost'
Although often requested by name, I find this cultivar slow growing and less reliable than most. The leaves are larger than those of 'Doorenbos' and potentially superb slightly creamy white bark, but seemingly not as easy to grow.

BETULA utilis var. jacquemontii 'Jermyns'
The vivid white bark of this vigorous, Hillier named selection is retained into maturity, whilst it has the added attraction of very long catkins (to 17cm). This one is also distinctive in habit. I have likened it to a "conference pear" in that it is considerably taller than it is wide, with its greatest width at the bottom of the canopy. Different proportions therefore to the classic forms, where the widest point will typically be about half way up the canopy. We like to use this for vertical accent where we want to gain as much height as possible as quickly as possible.
See it in our Winter Garden.

BETULA utilis var. jacquemontii 'Knightshayes'
Selected at my favourite National Trust Garden, Knightshayes, in Devon, the origin of this tree is unknown. It is however unique in this company since it has a semi-pendulous growth habit. It develops an upright leader with strongly weeping side branches which creates a very unusual and dramatic effect. The bark is dazzling white.

BETULA utilis var. jacquemontii 'Moonbeam'    
This selection is smaller growing than many cultivars, developing quite a rounded head though still with white bark. I have been known to describe it as "short and fat" by comparison with some of the alternatives. However, our experience of this cultivar is that the more compact habit is generally a reflection of a weaker constitution, and it is prone to dieback. Although it is asked for by name regularly, it is not a favourite of mine. Often people perceive that it is a good choice for a smaller garden, and perhaps it is if the limiting factor is height. But very often in a smaller space, a slender upright tree is a more attractive option, giving a valuable vertical accent, but actually taking up less floor space, permitting more planting around it. I find that shorter trees with a more rounded canopy are widest at head height, which actually makes them feel too dominant in the space.

Hence, others that are worth considering for a more restricted space include 'Trinity College' (though this has good vigour and will gain good height quickly - "tall and thin" by comparison therefore) and 'Fastigiate' (this last one being the narrowest). If you really need to keep the size down, then I would recommend the largely unknown B. ermanii 'Mount Apoi'.

BETULA utilis var. jacquemontii 'Ramdana River'
Selected from seed originally collected from the Ramdana River area in Uttar Pradesh, India in 1991 this has become an absolute favourite of mine. It has superb bark as would be expected of any selection of this subspecies, so it's the detail that determines its quality. For me the white bark has a warmth to it. It is a reliable and non fussy grower, readily making a tidy, symmetrical shape that is much less affected by our exposed site.
See it in our Winter Garden.

BETULA utilis var. jacquemontii 'Silver Shadow'    
Another variation on a theme - this time selected at Hillier's West Hill Nursery. This one has an open habit and larger leaves, which combine with the dazzling white bark to give a very dramatic effect. There is also a noticeable indumentum (furriness) to the foliage and young stems and it can sometime be more fickle to grow than some of the other cultivars. It has a tendency to send out strong shoots at slightly unpredictable angles and it doesn't gain height as rapidly as most of the other whites, so it can be a good choice where something a little looser in habit is required for a slightly smaller space.
See it in our Winter Garden.

BETULA utilis var. jacquemontii 'Snow Leopard'
Although (as you can see from our collection listed on this page) there are a great many cultivars attributed to this iconic subspecies, most are of unknown origin and may even be hybrids. This selection is a clone from a group of seedlings collected by Oleg Polunin in the wild near Sonamarg in Jammu & Kashmir, India. It is an area inhabited by the elusive snow leopard - hence the name! Pure white bark peels dramatically to reveal a smooth white underlayer. Gorgeous.
See it in our Winter Garden.

BETULA utilis var. jacquemontii 'Snow Queen' 
A showy tree with a gleaming white trunk which is apparent from an early age. Some authorities say that this is the same as 'Doorenbos'...and for sure they are very similar. I have kept mine separate on the basis that once combined, they could never be told apart. Perhaps that is answer enough in itself. Whatever the case, the pair of them are arguably some of the best white birches when considering ease of culture and purity / intensity of bark colour.
See it in our Woodland Walk.

BETULA utilis var. jacquemontii 'Trinity College'    
Although named much more recently, this wonderful selection from Trinity College, Dublin is thought to have grown from seed sent by Hooker from Kew around 1881. It is notable for its smaller leaves and generally more compact growth habit which I love, being relatively tall and upright but neatly narrow without being overly fastigiate. The gleaming white trunk is apparent from an early age. Do understand that this is not a "dwarf" selection per se, it can develop prodigious height. Its advantage is its comparative lack of breadth. It performs best on rich, moisture retentive soil since rust can develop in late summer in dry conditions.
See it in the Quarry Garden.

BETULA utilis var. occidentalis 'Kyelang' 
Pure white peeling bark as one would expect, but also the white resinous buds are conspicuous in winter. The late Kenneth Ashburner selected it from seed collected by the Indian Forestry Service in Kyelang, NW Himalaya in the mid 1970s. However it seems that consideration is now being given as to whether this is actually a jacquemontii selection after all. Whatever the case, my display plant has made a delightful round headed small tree with gorgeous bark.

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