Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

When did you last wash your tree?

One of the most inspiring gardens is The Winter Garden at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. If you think winter is a drab season then this is the place to transform your view.

When the sun is out on a crisp winter day there's nothing like a beautiful silver birch, its trunk a composition of subtle pastel shades. If you have a silver birch in your garden, is it beautiful? And if it's covered with dusty greeny-grey dirty grime, when did you last wash your tree? Yes, that's what those cunning gardeners get up to when we're not looking - they go out and give the trees a wash and brush up!

This lunch time my 'garden workout' included washing the silver birch.

BEFORE . . .





  1. I will give the tree washing a go, now you are to blame if it all goes wrong!!will post up some pics of it, so glad your tree turned out so nice.

  2. I would never have thought to give my silver birch a wash Celia... guess what I'm going to have to do now! The winter garden is lovely - but then I like the botanical gardens all year round.

  3. I have to chuckle at this. THis is the beauty of learning how people garden in different countries -- so many different aspects to consider. With it being so dry here we never have to worry about that. But I'll bet you're glad you don't have minus 30C and colder weather to tend with :) I should post a few photos next week ... of course a person can't _see_ the cold, just the snow, but it's a drastic difference from your lovely garden.

    This is something I will share with some of my other gardening (and non-blogging) friends -- they will be surprised to learn about this. Thanks for such an informative post.

    Btw, I finally managed to squeeze in my 8 happy thoughts at long last!

    Diane, Sand to Glass

  4. Love this post - I have no inspiration for housework, but would do this like a shot if I had a silver birch.

    I'm planning to plant a little grove of them, all different, this winter, because they are such cheering trees, all that bark, and the way they hang on to one or two golden leaves all through the winter, and those leaves look so sunshine-y beautiful against a clear blue winter sky. Do you know what variety yours is? I'm keen to find which varieties people think are best ...

    And then, I'll be thinking of you this time next year, when I'm cleaning the bark of my spinney!


  5. :-) I thought you'd enjoy this one!
    I don't do this every year, but after the dull wet summer our silver birch was looking particularly mucky!

    Diane - I certainly wouldn't have been out there with a bucket of water and scrubbing brush if it was -30C !!!!!

    Joanna - our silver birch is one of those weeping varieties, planted by a previous owner of the garden. It wouldn't be my choice, I prefer the upright ones, and I think you can get trees with multiple trunks to make a mini copse effect. At the end of the Winter Walk at Anglesey Abbey (NT property nr Cambridge) there is an exquisite stand of Himalayan birches (betula jacquemontii) underplanted with the black leaved ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' and snowdrops, as you round the final turn along the walk it never fails to lift the spirits! Perfection!


  6. crikey, what a result - i'd never have thought of that!!!

  7. They were talking about this very thing on Gardener's Question time today! When it stops raining, I shall be out with my scrubbing brush.

  8. I'm sometimes plagued by the ghastly "sooty mould" but can only wash what's within reach.(The mould forms when aphids excrete their honey dew and because ants husband the suckers it's a constant battle!)
    Your green door looks so tempting!

  9. Celia, this is great, that tree has half scrubbed up well. Glad you caught a crisp winter day, our last one was Monday, and then the rain came, again! x

  10. Washing your tree did make a difference - I would never have thought of doing this. I might try come spring.

  11. What an interesting post. The tree scrubbing made a real difference.
    Sara from farmingfriends


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