The most striking feature of our garden at the moment is the white stemmed birches. They are at their best as dusk. Some of these are getting on for ten years old. We have planted a few new Betula utilis or jacquemontii during the winter as part of a redesign of one of the borders. When I was ill a few years ago, we planted 'hundreds of shrubs and small trees - which are now forcing out the herbaceous plants. There will be much less work, but less colour. Choosing trees with attractive trunks was our compromise.
And this is the best stemmed tree of all - the Acer griseum. Its a truly spectacular small tree, with 'peeling' bark all the year through. Its called the 'paper bark maple'. Its a tree with everything, including really strong leaf colour in the autumn. When this tree reached ten feet, I trimmed off lots of the lower 'leafed' branches, to maximise stem exposure. Acer griseums are not cheap, but they are a must have.
Another great tree for stem colour is the Prunus serrula. Perhaps they're a touch too strong for the small garden, but the trunks are just so shiny and colourful that we've planted a few of them. Behind is a little clump of river birches. Not sure of the botanical name of these, because we've planted several betulas that were labelled 'river birch' over the years - and they have turned out to be different. Makes no difference, because they are all attractive.