Every year we promote two trees or shrubs you might not know about that make excellent landscaping and habitat! In past years we’ve featured dogwood, viburnum, Aronia, and buttonbush. This year we’re discounting river birch ($5) and witch hazel (only $2!). Newly this year we are also giving away free trees to our first 100 customers!
Witch Hazel’s many wonders
What’s most remarkable and unusual about witch hazel is that it flowers in late fall, producing small, fragrant yellow flowers at a time when the rest of the forest is going dormant. Its growth form is a shrub or small tree with arching branches generally growing as a dense, multi-stemmed clump reaching heights of 20 to 30 feet and widths of 15 to 20 feet. Witch hazel is a great tree to plant as an understory or for a shrub border in large areas – it does well on the north side of a house or hill, or in dappled, understory shade. It prefers rich, moist soils, but is tolerant of a variety of conditions – however, we suggest that watering this tree during establishment is particularly important. Forked branches of the witch hazel were used by native Americans for finding underground sources of water, and European settlers adopted the practice. An extract of witch hazel bark, leaves and twigs has similarly long been used by native Americans for a variety of remedies, and today it is found in many skin care products to lessen inflammation, draw tissue together, and slow bleeding.
River Birch’s striking beauty
River birch is a vigorous, fast-growing, small- to medium-sized tree with stunning, peeling bark. We are pushing the very northern edge of its native range here, but planted individuals seem to thrive. In natural environments, it typically occurs on floodplains, swampy bottomlands and along streams. In cultivation, it can be trained as either a single trunk or multi-trunked tree, with the latter being its more typical form. Salmon-pink to reddish brown bark exfoliates to reveal lighter inner bark. River birch does best in damp soils but can tolerate some drought. Deer browse on river birch, and wild turkey, ruffed grouse, and many songbirds eat the seeds.
See full descriptions of all the trees, shrubs, and wildflower seed mixes we offer.