Small rodents like rabbits, voles and mice will nibble bark on stems near the base of shrubs. Too much bark removal can kill the plant. Use tree guards to protect young tree trunks. Encircle shrubs with hardware cloth to create a cage rodents can’t wriggle through.
In late winter, this evergreen shrub or small tree, Pewter Pillar® Winter’s Bark ( Drimys winteri var. chiloense), opens clusters of lovely white blooms followed by small fruits. The glossy leaves have silvery-white backs. The plants are hardy in USDA zones 7 to 10.
As food sources become scarce, rabbits, mice and voles can make quick work of bark on unprotected trees and shrubs. Use tree guards around young tree trunks, and surround shrubs with hardware mesh. You can also try to attract raptors like owls and hawks, which prey on these mammals, by erecting artificial perch poles.
Crape myrtle is a Southern classic, beloved for its endless show. Summer flowers, fall color and beautiful winter bark earn this beauty a place in every Southern yard. Flower colors vary, including ruby red, pastel lavender and snowy white. New varieties also offer wine-red foliage. Look for semi-dwarf varieties to find ones that qualify as small tree size. Examples include ‘Acoma’ (white, to 10 feet), ‘Delta Jazz’ (ruby red, to 10 feet), ‘Rhapsody in Pink’ (pink, to 12 feet), ‘Zuni’ (lavender, 6 to 10 feet) and Early Bird Lavender (6 feet). Semi-dwarf size: 6 to 12 feet tall by 3 to 10 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 7-10.
The bark on a tree contains the tissues that conduct water from roots to leaves and food stores from leaves to roots. It’s akin to the circulatory system of the tree. Critters like porcupines feed on bark in late winter especially, chewing to reach the sweet flowing sap that’s rising. If the bark removal encircles a tree trunk (something beavers often do), the tree will die.
Organic wall coverings are an excellent way to bring natural textures and colors into a room. In this bedroom, white birch tree bark adds instant winter-like flair. To fully envelope the room in this texture, it was installed on the walls, doors and the ceiling.
Potted evergreens are excellent for year-round use and can be especially effective during winter months for adding a touch of classic holiday charm. Keep the overall look simple by planting the evergreens in pots covered in interesting, organic textural materials such as burlap, linen or birch bark. For a more finished look, cover the top of the potting soil with moss.
Chokecherrry is a beloved native tree known for its black cherries that beckon birds—and make good jelly, too. Goldspur amur chokecherry (Prunus maackii ‘Jefspur’) is a dwarf form of the classic native, bringing the multi-season beauty of this tree to a size that fits any yard. White flowers appear in spring, followed by black cherry fruits in summer. Leaves shift to yellow tones in autumn, but the best show occurs in winter, when the gold peeling bark is visible. Size: 10 to 15 feet tall by 6 to 9 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 2-9.
For the longest time, seven-son flower (Heptacodium miconioides) has been a plant grown by garden geeks, but it’s now entering the common marketplace. It’s about time. This stunning small tree offers strong four-season interest. Leaves are beautiful as they emerge in spring and develop a twisting appearance in summer. White flowers appear in late summer, beckoning hummingbirds. Blossoms fade to reveal deep rose bracts that linger on the plant well into autumn. Winter showcases peeling, tan bark on the multiple trunks. This is a great choice for a specimen front yard tree or an addition to a planting bed. Size: 6-10 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 5-9.