Please, folks, if you are wondering what would be a good tree to plant in your garden, can I recommend a nice broken umbrella, an unused bathtub, an old Datsun, or a stack of worn tyres. Anything but silver birches. Birches, as far as I can see, are almost completely devoid of any saving graces, although I believe they do make fair firewood. I had a student once who carefully dried and cut birch branches into slices not unlike casino chips. He then carefully carved runes into the chips and annointed them with various bodily fluids (yes) and then used them for guidance in his life. Interestingly, the use of runes had changed his life from one of a kind of nihilist violence to one of introspection and respect. I liked the student, not only for having the courage to change, but for his positive attitude towards birch trees and the need for maintaining a fine, sharp saw.
At different times of the year, birches drop leaves, twigs, catkins, and seeds. Birch trees produce numerous flowers (catkins, really), each flower, in turn, bears numerous windbourne seed capsules. Numerous means something in the order of 150,000 seeds per kg. Fluttering madly to infest the garden with more birches. If only. What is more likely to happen – as has happened for my neighbour – is the wind has blown the seed capsules and those fabulous birch leaves up under the edge of the garage roof – just waiting for me to get up on the roof, on this nice cool day, and spend the afternoon running a hose trying to dislodge and wash away the offending (keyword: offending) leaves. They don’t wash away too easily, so I had to grab them out with my hands – seriously sub-sub-tropical.
Silver Birch – the weightwatcher’s answer to Liquidamber trees. Lovely in parks, vermin in the urban garden.