Columnar Tree Dreaming - Dakota Pinnacle Birch and Swedish Aspen - Winter 2020

Since the new year, I've posted about a couple of spots that I'm thinking about for trees in 2020.  That started with the five trees that I want to plant in the front yard (including five new trees) and a small section between the espalier Linden trees and a Cleveland Pear along the southern fence line.  In both of those pieces, I talked quite a bit about columnar trees.  At this point, you're probably like:  we get it, Jake.  You like columnar form.

Yes indeed.  But, because this is *my* blog, you're going to have to bear with me.  Over the course of the next few days and weeks, I'm going to use this space as a reference guide for some columnar trees that I've come across that are work referencing back as I add more inventory.

This post is about a pair of what I'm calling 'white trees'.  Birch and Aspen.

First up is this Dakota Pinnacle Birch Tree.

The folks at Fast Growing Trees are currently selling a 5-6' version for $99 right now.

It is labeled (by North Dakota State University Plant Sciences) as a Asian tree.  From NDSU Plant Sciences Department:

Via NDSU Plant Science Department.

A couple of things in there jump out to me:  10 years and it will be 30' tall and just 8' wide.  That's nice.  Hardy all the way down to zone 3a.  That's nice, too.  But, most important:  this birch variety is "drought tolerant" and has "above average tolerance to birch borer and strong winds".  I like those factors the most.  It won't snap and isn't going to get eaten alive.

But, that "above average" tolerance doesn't mean that this tree is going to be around for generations.  From this listing on Gertens, they say it'll go for just one lifetime:
It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 40 years or more.
Just 40 years.  Not like one of those Oak trees that you 'plant for future generations'.  I suppose that's ok, right?  Everything can't be an Oak.  And some fast growth - 30' in 10 years *is* fast in my mind.

The *other* thing that Gertens listing mentions is that the tree is, ummm, "Japanese".  From Gertens:

(Highlights, mine.  Via Gertens.com here.)

I think it could be a nice tree that is in the front yard that goes along the property line - with the narrow span - it won't protrude onto our neighbor's property too much, even at a mature 8' wide.

Now...for the second tree - one that is similar (at least to me):  the Columnar Swedish Aspen.  Via Monrovia, they call out this tree as a good fit for "lining a drive".

Via Monrovia.  
Just look at this photo from The Tree Center where they show these things shooting skyward in their narrow, columnar form:

Via The Tree Center's Swedish Aspen tree listing.  
Similarly, this one could find a home along the property line, but based on what I've read about the tree, it may not be good for near foundations or sidewalks.  This post on "Living the Garden Life" talks quite a bit about the pros (the looks of the trees) and the cons (the roots being lateral and sprouting up in their yard from their neighbor's Columnar Swedish Aspen).

Knowing they'll have lateral roots, maybe thinking about a place to 'contain' them would be best?  There's a spot in the front yard - in the 'small parkway' between our driveway and our neighbors that is just a grass island right now.  I'd really like to convert that to a bed so I don't have to cut it.  Having a columnar tree to anchor that site would be a nice move and keeping the tree narrow (less than 8') would work to ensure we clear the driveways.

In the backyard, there are a few spots that are calling for a columnar tree like the one I mentioned in this post next to the Weeping White Spruce.  I also could see it being used as a screening tree near the back of the property where we have some power lines.  I could imagine planting it by the emerging upright Yew hedge that I've planted in the back

Both of these trees have 'white bark' on them and I think that they'll provide a little bit of winter interest.  We have a three-trunked River Birch tree in the backyard that we inherited.  I know it isn't the most desireable tree, but I think it adds some nice diversity to the yard.

As I post more of these 'tree dreaming posts', I suppose I should do a property inventory of my columnar tree dreams.  These are trees that if I come across, I'd be hard-pressed to not add to our yard:

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