Right outside our administration building there are a couple of small trees that go unnoticed during the growing season. They almost resemble the kudzu-draped monsters we are so familiar with in the south. From now through the emergence of spring growth, however, these weeping mulberries will stand like statuary, causing everyone to look upon them with awe. Because once they've been stripped of foliage, they reveal fantastically twisted and gnarled branches that only get better with age. These branches look as though they have an ancient story to pass along.
It's been said by more than one famous landscape designer that there is so much to enjoy and see in the winter garden once trees and shrubs have lost their foliage. The pertinent question we can all ask ourselves is have we planned for form and structure in our gardens? More often than not, the answer is revealed in the winter.
Even if we have not chosen weepers like the mulberry, bark can play an important role in winter landscapes if the right trees have been chosen. Once leaves have fallen, the bark is exposed.
Take a stroll on a cold, quiet winter morning and notice how the patterns of bark vary from tree to tree. As trees and shrubs get older and grow wider, the bark may peel, split or shed to create a wonderful new look. Some surfaces are smooth, some textured, and beautiful patterns and colors come alive in the winter.