Weeping Birch in Spring
"The winds so sweet with birch & fern
A sweeter memory blow;
And there in spring the veeries sing
The song of long ago."
-John Greenleaf Whittier,
This page about Betula pendula 'Youngii' extends the page about Young's Weeping Birch in Winter. All winter long this tree sported lovely catkins on its naked branches, which in the springtime suddenly triple their length & burst into pollinating glory, for catkins are in fact the male flowers of the tree & seem to get quit excited when they discover it is time for the spring arrival of the female flowers.
Like peacock & peahen, the male catkin is all clad in glory, but the female flower is rather plain, though in her own right awfully pretty. The female flowers appear all over the tree as small & brown & coy. They resemble tiny fir cones, but if you try to grab one, it crumbles into a dust of eency crisp petals.
During the time when the male catkins are fluffing out & the brown female flowers developing, the leaves are simultaneously budding & beginning to unfold. The picture that heads this page taken in the second week of April 2002 shows the leaves, the male catkins, & the female flowers all in a single lovely group. If I'd taken the picture a week earlier, it would've been flowers & catkins without the leaves, just tiny leafbuds. Two additional close-ups show in separate shots the brown female flowers, & the chains of male flowers or catkins.
The Young's is just about the first tree to leaf out in early spring, on top of having been just about the last tree in autumn to drop its leaves. The nearby Weeping Green Beach & the Paperbark Maple still have only leaf buds when this Birch is getting very leafy, new growth being a lovely-lovely pale green. The lower right hand picture shows the pale green early April leafage, also capturing the "twist" in the tortured trunk.
The catkins & flowers are particularly visible in early to mid April because leaves are only half grown & do not hide these lovely "extras." Even when the leaves are full size, Young's White Birch has an airiness to its leafage, always letting some sun through.
The last picture, in the lower left hand side of the page, is a May portrait of the fruit which appears shortly after the brown female flowers & the showy male catkins are spent. The fruit is a long, thin, & green, somewhat resembling the male flower in its bud stage.
Back when Granny Artemis & I were struggling with the decision as to whether or not to add this tree to our garden, there were many negatives to consider & to try to overcome:
1) The position we had in mind was near a window the tree might someday block;
2) Birches are notoriously shortlived in gardens unless very specific needs can be met; &,
3) The Young's weeper can spread very wide & might one day block the garden path.
We almost talked ourselves out of it a half-dozen times, but with serious research on the tree's requirements & behavior, we decided we could indeed meet its specific needs & probably control its size.
And what a good decision it has proven to be. The photos on this Spring page & the previous Winter page, plus the subsidiary Young's Birch Page of the Autumn Leaves Gallery, more than adequately convey the wonders of this tree. Positioned as it is just outside the living room window, we are so very happy to daily observe it in each of its seasonal guises.
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