Birch, or Betula to use their Latin name, are quite rightly one of the nation’s favourite specimen trees, well-loved for their graceful growth habit, light airy foliage and beautiful papery peeling bark. Birch have serrated, diamond-shaped leaves which flutter in the wind, bringing movement and dynamism to the garden alongside yellowish-green male and female catkins each spring. The foliage is deciduous and takes on beautiful autumnal shades of golden-yellow and brown later in the year. They really take centre stage after the leaves have fallen, leaving the papery bark on prominent display and making Birch trees a valuable addition to the garden across the seasons. They are easy to grow – fully hardy and thriving in a wide range of soil types – but you must remember that they are shallow rooted. Avoid under-planting around their trunk and below the canopy and be prepared to water even well-established specimens during periods of drought. Silver Birch is perhaps the best known with its pendulous branchlets and beautiful white bark. Birch Youngii is another interesting variety that’s more compact and with very weeping branches which may droop all the way to the ground. Alternatively, Silver Birch Golden Cloud has a neat narrow conical habit and stunning deeply fissured bark.