Bark and stem-interest shrubs

These shrubs light up a border in winter and early spring. Devoid of leaves, the vibrant stems of shrubby dogwoods and willows shine out. White-stemmed brambles (such as Rubus thibetanus) also add frosty drama to winter gardens.


The vibrant stems of shrubby dogwoods (Cornus) and willows (Salix) resemble fiery pokers sprouting from the ground. They come in glowing shades of red, orange and yellow, as well as acid-green or rich purple. Ornamental brambles have tall, arching, thorny stems with in a powdery white coating, which stands out dramatically once the leaves have fallen in autumn.


Most shrubby dogwoods and willows thrive in moisture-retentive and even damp soil, and full sun. White-stemmed brambles are happy in most locations with plenty of sun.


Both shrubby dogwoods and willows will struggle in dry soil and produce less vivid stems. They also dislike shade.

Did you know?

Willow bark is the original source of aspirin, which was first produced by the drug firm Bayer in the late 19th century. However, willow has been used for thousands of years to treat pain and fevers.

Growing guide

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