Betula ermanii 'Grayswood Hill' is a beautiful birch looking good now in our Arboretum with creamy pink bark and, later in the year, golden yellow autumn colours.
A native of North Eastern Asia and Northern Japan, it is very hardy. But, curiously, selections from the southern parts of its range, for instance Hokkaido, are hardier in the UK than plants grown in far N. E. Russia where the weather changes from bitter winters with temperatures down to -30°C into hot summers and virtually no spring. Plants from these areas of extreme climate can't cope with our occasional mild weeks in late winter when they burst into growth, only to be damaged or killed by later frosts, whereas the Japanese clones are more suited to our climate.
Betula ermanii is named in honour of a remarkable German physicist, Adolph Erman (1806-1877), who journeyed from Berlin to Eastern Russia on foot and horseback. He was principally interested in the earth's magnetism but recorded his fantastic adventure in a superb account titled “Travels in Siberia Including Excursions Northwards, Down the Obi, to The Arctic Circle and Southwards to the Chinese frontier”, nowadays available in two volumes as an English translation from www.abebooks.com.