In winter, a blue sky day is the ideal time to appreciate trees, both native and exotic, with ornamental bark. Some like crape myrtle, kousa dogwoods and Stewartia species (shown here) offer not only handsome bark that shines in winter but beautiful blooms too, during the growing season. And certain trees like the native American sycamore or the crape myrtle 'Natchez' look good no matter what the season.
Whether peeling, patchy, colorful, shiny or dull, bark is an asset. When you plant trees with ornamental bark think about siting them against a backdrop of evergreens or conifers which will help to show off their bark, especially in winter. Including one or more trees with showy bark in your garden will help create a landscape with year-round interest.
Here are 18 trees with noteworthy bark. All are good choices for specimens or focal points in the landscape. Most become more ornamental as they mature over time. Some like river birch Betula nigra 'Heritage' can get quite large and require lots of room to grow. A blend of colors, their colorful peeling bark can be easily appreciated from a distance or up close. (Text: Erica Glasener)