Right now is prime time for planting bare-rooted trees in the garden, which I witter on about endlessly because it is so cheap, quick and easy. No garden know-how required - just a spade and the right space.
As someone said to me recently, don't imagine that you are planting it for your grandchildren. Young trees grow so much quicker than people tend to realise, so you are growing them for YOU.
The joy they then bring as they grow is immense, such as this trio of birches I planted in early 2016. When they went in, they were just three spindly stems, the tips of which came up to my nose. Now, after just three growing seasons, they are over 4 metres (12 foot) high with trunks as thick as my arm.
Look at that golden autumn colour. Autun birch trees simply glow with the sun behind them.
Planting three trees so close together is something you can do with Silver Birches - it looks attractive and actually slows their growth a little.
Meanwhile, the young chstnut-coloured bark is already flaking to reveal the ghostly adult trunks.
The added value comes from knowing that it is such a good tree for wildlife. In time, I'm sure that Goldfinches and maybe even Redpolls will come to eat the seeds, while I expect spring Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers will make a bee-line to sing in its branches in spring.
But it is for moths that the Silver Birch is indispensable. The caterpillars of over fifty of our larger moth species - the macromoths - feed on the two birch species (Silver and Downy), as well as dozens more of the tiny micromoths.
Here are just a few that have come into my moth trap which all feed on birches:
The Scalloped Hook-tip, which holds its wings in a curious tent fashion
The Nut-tree Tussock
The Iron Prominent
And the September Thorn
And of course there is the moth that pretends to be a snapped birch twig, the Buff-tip.
I had a quick look online and found tree merchants who will send you a 150-175cm (5-6 feet) tall bare-root Silver Birch for about £13 including delivery. Buy a couple more bare-rooted trees at the same time and your cost per tree drops substantially. I found another site selling three 60-90cm (2-3 feet) Silver Birch for £9.99, postage included.
Then it is just a case of digging a hole, and popping the bare-rooted little sapling in (just take care to keep the sapling's roots in a plastic bag until the last moment so they don't dry out, and plant it so that it is at about the same level in the soil as it would have been in the nursery). Cover with soil, firm in well, stake if necessary, give it a good water, and that's pretty much job done for the next 100 years.
It may need a little drink in hot summer weather in the first year and some mulch around the base to stop the weeds but that's it, and all for barely a tenner and 30 mins work.
The moths will love you for it, and the birds will love hunting caterpillars in the branches. For them, your Silver Birch could be pure gold.
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