Sunday, 7 February 2016

Tree Following 2016 - Betula Crimson Frost

I had fully intended getting out and about finding a mature tree to follow for this year's Tree Following posts.  However, I have been laid up with a really bad cold again and could not summon the energy to get myself suited, booted and out there for a walk.  And to be honest the weather is not exactly enticing me to have much of a wander around the locale either.  I have opted to follow yet another tree from my garden.

Technically my tree is not quite a tree yet.  It is still a very small specimen.  A sapling really. You may be wondering then just why I've chose this particular tree especially when there are others to choose from.  I chose it because my wee sapling is a casualty of Storm Gertrude and I am not sure if it is worth saving.  My immediate thought was to remove and replace but decided after sleeping on it that the very least it deserves a bit of a chance.  I shall persevere with it for now. 

Betula Crimson Frost has been in my garden since Autumn 2014.  It found a home in my garden after coming across it at my local nursery.  I wrote about it here.  I had high hopes.  It's narrow upright growth meant it was ideal for my garden.  Eventually it will provide a bit of privacy between us and the neighbours over the back.  I should add that the old nosy neighbours are gone and the new ones, which I have not been introduced to yet, seem to be quite the opposite.  The white peeling bark and purple foliage means there is year round interest too.  It has/had everything it needed to make a wonderful statement in years to come.   



I discovered the damage last weekend.  My sapling had snapped in two places and ultimately it's height has been reduced by around 50%.   I sought some advice and it seems all is not lost but I will more than likely end up with a multi stemmed specimen instead. Apparently multi stemmed specimens are more in vogue anyway.  However, I don't know enough about how these things work and just what eventual shape my once single stemmed, narrow upright tree will take.  I am hoping by watching this tree more closely over the coming months I will have a better idea of what I might want to do with it.  I am a tad apprehensive though.  Will I end up with a massively over wide tree that will at some point need to be removed?  If only I could fast forward 5 or so years.   


I was advised to make a clean cut below the break and remove the support I had offered it. The buds will break in spring and I will have the option of either removing all except the top shoot or growing them all to have a multi stemmed tree.  

Having removed the stake I felt as though it was still very flimsy.  What to do?  I found a spare tree stake in the shed and this time offered it up near the base. My wee tree seems to have developed a bit of a kink in the trunk too.  I wonder if my poor choice of support has caused this. Perhaps it will add character as the tree matures or it will straighten itself out now that it is free to grow just as it wants.

I find it hard to imagine that this wee twig will one day become a thing of beauty.


Betula Crimson Frost February 2016
And just in case you are wondering what the future holds, well read for yourself!

Betula Crimson Frost is a purple-leaved birch whose parents are Betula platyphylla var.szechuanica and Betula pendula ‘Purpurea’. It is a small to medium sized tree.  Upright, narrow-pyramidal shape. It is noted for its burgundy-red to purple foliage and exfoliating white bark with cinnamon hues. Foliage acquires orange, red and yellow shades in autumn. Tiny monoecious flowers appear in early spring in separate catkins on the same tree. Female flowers are followed by drooping cone-like fruits containing numerous small winged seeds that typically mature in late summer. 

Thanks for reading.  See you over at The Squirrelbasket.

36 comments:

  1. Oh dear, the poor thing! Hopefully it will make a fabulous recovery in the spring. It sounds like a very interesting tree which ticks all the boxes for year round interest.

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    1. I'm hoping it is a fighter Jane :)

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  2. Hope you are feeling a little better, not following a tree this year, but will keep a eye on past trees, hope your little tree does well.
    Amanda xx

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    1. Feeling a bit more up beat today Amanda, hopefully I am on the mend. Good idea to keep an eye on those trees even though you are not posting about them - you may be inspired for next year.

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  3. I wish I had room in the garden for another tree, B. Crimson Frost sounds wonderful, I hope yours survives.
    Multi stemmed trees are usually more expensive to buy!

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    1. The up side to having quite a young garden Brian is that I can still find room for some plants. I do regret being too afraid to plant trees when I first started gardening. I read too many scary articles and was completely put off. I have now seen the error of my ways and am enjoying adding some trees to my garden.

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  4. What a shame - I hope that it repays you by growing into a wonderful specimen.

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  5. Angie I am the same I was going to look for a mature tree but not in the wind and rain, I hope your cold will soon be better, sounds like you are running under par this winter, working hard at home and work, tell your family you need pampering for a while.
    A purple leaf birch sounds divine, I think I remember you posting about it, many of my trees are multi stemmed due to being wind pruned, I would stick with your little tree, you do not need to leave all the new branches on, you can decide how many stems, most seem to be 3 or 5, do some searches I would think they would bring up photos to give you some idea. Frances

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    1. I seem to be having a really tough time this winter, if it's not one thing it's another Frances. I'll pass on your thoughts re pampering!
      Having just read your post Frances I am encouraged to keep going with it.

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  6. I hope it comes through for you, Angie - it sounds lovely, and I always like to give things all the chance one can! At any rate, it's still bigger than my baby Desert Willow, which I am just now hoping will break dormancy and prove it's still alive... Hope you are feeling better soon and have a healthy year ahead - you've had more than enough in the way of colds!

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    1. I do hope your Willow shows signs of life soon Amy. It's always an agonizing wait isn't it? I don't normally get so many colds but it just seems to keep doing the rounds through all of us. Even Baby Olli has had his fair share.

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  7. On dear, your poor little tree, it does look a bit pathetic. But as you grow a birch for the wonderful bark, a multi stem tree is more effective. I think you might have quite a wait for it to show itself in all its glory. But then we are gardeners, being patient is part of the job.
    I hope you are feeling better.

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    1. A tad better today Chloris, thanks. I managed to get out into the garden for a wee while.
      Yes, pathetic just about describes it. It might just work hard at impressing me knowing that I am keeping an eye on it with a view to taking it out.

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  8. Darn, sorry to hear the tree was damaged and you've been feeling under the weather. My hope will be that, first, you will feel much better, and, second, that your little tree will come back healthy and strong.

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    1. Beth, although I am disappointed, my damage is miniscule compared to what others have gone through lately so have to be thankful really. It could have been worse.

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  9. I think it's a good selection for your tree following exercise, Angie, and I'm glad you're giving the birch a second chance at life. I'm sorry to hear you're under the weather (do you use that term for being sick, or is that only a US expression?). I hope you're feeling better soon.

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    1. Yes under the weather is a term used here too Kris. I have perked up a bit and hope it will be long gone come the weekend.

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  10. Sorry you were feeling badly Angie, hope you're better now. Sure your little purple leaf birch will grow well despite of damage, I've seen this tree in Finland, it's very pretty one.

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    1. Thank you for the vote in confidence in my wee tree Nadezda. The pictures of more mature ones on the internet are very pretty. Hopefully one day mine will be exactly that.

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  11. Hope you're feeling better Angie. Oh your poor little tree, I hope it recovers and grows well.. it sounds such a beautiful tree.

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    1. On the mend now Julie - thanks for asking. I certainly hope it does me proud.

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  12. I'm rooting for the little birch! and for you in your fight against that cold ... best wishes.

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    1. Thank you Hollis - keep those fingers crossed for it.

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  13. I have one birch tree, Angie -- had more but they succumbed to high winds and an ice storm. Birches are high maintenance here in Pennsylvania because they need lots of moisture and prefer cool summers which sounds more like your conditions. Wish you luck with your sweet sapling -- I'll be watching with interest. Feel better. P. x

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    1. Moisture and cool summers - yes, I can tick all those boxes.

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  14. Oh dear, I do hope it recovers. I have just found that two big local trees have been blown down by Storm Imogen. These storms seem worse since we gave them names.
    Don't forget you can choose a new tree to follow at any time - or follow more than one.
    Some people think Spring is the best time to find one. Just saying!
    For now I have changed your details on the tree-following page.
    All the best to you and little Betty the Betula :)

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    1. A shame those trees have been brought down Pat. I do hope that was the only damage and nothing more severe. You never know another tree may just pop in at some point.

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  15. Oh Angie, such a shame, I remember when you first planted her, I fell in love. Personally I really like multi stemmed trees, and if the single stem variety is narrow in habit I would hope that a version with say three stems growing from close to the base could be rather vase like and lovely. But as you say, hard to have faith when your once so promising sapling is so reduced.

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    1. Here's hoping Janet! We shall see what happens over the coming months.

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  16. What a shame poor wee tree, I have found these newer birches are easily susceptible to weather and damage, sadly as many of them are gorgeous. A multi stemmed tree will give you more branches for your money eventually, hopefully :) I hope you feel better soon, nothing worse than feeling under the weather, thought given the weather lately, indoors is definitely the best place to be.

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    1. I will bow to your superior knowledge Rona but will continue to have a little hope :)

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  17. Excellent choice for your Tree Following Angie, to follow the development of a damaged sapling should make the whole thing not only interesting but instructional at the same time.

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    1. That's exactly how I am looking at it Rick.

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  18. Come è successo? Sai che ho una 'Royal Frost' che è quasi uguale e l'avevo piantata nel terreno che ho lontano dal giardino. I cinghiali l'anno rotta a metà la scorsa primavera così ho dovuto spostarla.. Come te, spero che quest'anno si possa riprendere :)

    Un saluto!

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  19. The story behind this one makes it a very interesting tree to follow. I love Birch and the dappled shade which it gives.

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