Gotta Love a Freebie

One of my current projects is the design of a garden for a newly built house. For that project I had ordered half-a-dozen 2.5m (8′) Silver Birch (Betula pendula) trees from a large wholesaler in Sydney.

However, they delivered five Betula pendula and one Betula pendula ‘Dalecarlica’ (otherwise known as the Cut-leaf, or Swedish Birch) as they had run out of similarly sized standard Birch trees….so rather than giving me the next size down or up, or even delaying the order while they sent stock up from their other nurseries in Victoria, they substituted it for the much more expensive grafted version.

As the birches were being arranged into two groves of three trees, I didn’t want an odd one out, so after contacting the supplier, they delivered a standard Birch tree a couple of weeks later as per the original order, but amazingly, didn’t want the Cut-leaf Birch tree back!

As the bulk of the garden had been planted up, the client didn’t want to keep it, so I got a freebie. A grafted tree this size would normally retail for around $200-$280.

Granted, it’s a somewhat ratty specimen (it looks like it was originally propagated in a cool climate and then shipped to Sydney for a couple of seasons where it has put on tremendous, over-sized growth), and, I’ve had to make room in the garden for it, but with a bit of love this will make a fine specimen tree.

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Betula pendula ‘Dalecarlica’

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You can see the difference in leaf size between the top and bottom half of the tree…..

This spot was originally going to house a Magnolia, but you can’t look a gift horse in the mouth!

Happy Gardening 🙂

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29 thoughts on “Gotta Love a Freebie

    • Thanks! I love birch trees as well, and to be able to have one that’s not quite run-of-the-mill (for free) is going to be really quite lovely…yes, that is the front of the house (still part-way through renovations)

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  1. When you’ve got a whole garden to landscape, a freebie like that is a major boon. It’s also great to start off with a large specimen rather than have to wait years for the same impact. I hope it adapts well to its new space.

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    • Very true! I’ve never treated myself to very large specimens, so I am excited that the client let me have it. These become quite wonderful, graceful trees with a slightly weeping habit and glorious yellow autumn foliage

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  2. Nice score! How big will that tree get in your region? We have lots of birch trees here in Finland. The largest one I’ve seen was probably 20cm diam. They pop up all around our yard and are prevelant on all sides of the property boundaries. There’s a stand of them along the farmer’s field that will be beautiful eventually too and they’re about the same size as yours. They are in among Rowan trees some of which were lopped off out of carelessness and now have a gazillion heads! The whole rowan tree will have to be cut down now – it’s just hideous. There are about 10 of these beasties still to go!

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    • Thanks – I love the birches in their native environment, there is just something so amazing about the filtered light and the gleaming white trunk 🙂 Birches grow well here, and they do self-seed – there are a few growing along the railway line. It should get to about 10m x 5m, so tall enough for an impact, but not to large for the space. The only problem we have with birches is borers: as we don’t get cold enough in the winter to kill borers, they can inflict some serious damage to the delicate limbs.

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  3. Oh, how nice! I have lots of family in Dalarna – the region where those trees come from. I remember my uncle coming over here to visit, and being pleasantly surprised when he saw one growing here. You will probably come to love the rustling of the wind in those pendulous branches. And, the leaves are well behaved when they fall too – not a whole lot of cleanup. Nice score!

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    • I know I will love this tree. I wasn’t overly familiar with the tree prior to getting this delivery, and seeing how it has a lovely pendulous habit, I’m glad that they shipped just the one by mistake as it deserves to be grown by itself 🙂

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  4. You can’t look a gift birch in the mouth either, partly because they don’t have mouths. I have had something like this happen to me a couple of times, though only with perennials, not trees. The nursery always told me to keep the plants as it would not be worth them paying for return shipment, plus the poor plants would be that much worse for wear.

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