Whether a single specimen, a small copse or more generously planted, these Birch trees add such contrast and definition to a garden. Light canopies, butter-yellow autumn colour and then such strong stand-out silhouettes from Autumn to Spring. Look out for cultivars with such evocative names as Grayswood Ghost, Snow Queen and Silver Shadow. Weeping forms as well as ‘upright’.

The arboretum at RHS Wisley has a collection of Silver Birch, where it is possible to see more mature specimens, gauge the degree of ‘whiteness’ and branching structure. The white papery bark develops over a number of years, and young trees will need time to assume their ghostly garb. There are many other forms of Birch with softer (and brighter) colouring – golden hues, pinks, creams, reds even, but for the moment, in the bleak mid-winter, white rules, OK.

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