January's plant of the month

Rich, glossy and fresh; the striking beauty of the Tibetan cherry bark comes to the fore in winter – what’s not to love?

Prunus serrulaThis pretty little tree (also known as Prunus serrula) is a seasonal star, and as such is featured in both the Wisley Beauty of Bark trail and our Winter Walk. In its various guises, it comes as fine standard specimens with glorious bark gleaming out, as well as a number of multi-stemmed trees where the coppery-brown bark coverage is in smaller bundles but in greater overall abundance. In fact, the multi-stemmed trees command respect for their graceful and structural interest they present in the winter garden.

At other times of year this species bears small white flowers, and the leaves turn an attractive buttery-yellow in autumn. Of course, the bark remains a feature all year round.

On the corner of Seven Acres, the single stemmed Prunus serrula (that is labelled as B1 on the Beauty of Bark trail) has been growing at Wisley for a number of years, but was only recently relocated to this spot when its former location was redeveloped. Luckily, it has settled in well, and should go on for many years to come. Isn’t it amazing what plants can cope with?

These lovely trees are planted in various combinations, most with the focus on winter beauty. This means they’re alongside colourful Cornus and Salix (dogwood and willow) stems, the white stems of Rubus (bramble) to act as a foil for the bark, or underplanted with hellebores, cyclamen and bulbs. The options are almost endless, but a visit to Wisley will be a source of plenty of inspiration.

Useful links

Buy a Tibetan cherry direct from RHS Plants

Download the Beauty of Bark trail leaflet (1.7MB pdf)

Advertise here

Discuss this

for the site or to share your experiences on this topic and seek advice from our community of gardeners.

Get involved

We're a UK charity established to share the best in gardening. We want to enrich everyone's life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.