Pine (Pinus sylvestris, Scots pine) is native to the northern hemisphere. It is an evergreen coniferous resinous tree. They prefer acidic and sandy soils and are a fast growing softwood species that is commercially very important. It is a popular timber for carpentry and, when appropriately protected by a layer of outdoor furniture oil, is very suitable for outdoor furniture.
The soft wood has a pale colour and is easy to work with. Pine used to be common species in the British Isles, but due to deforestation is now mainly found in small forests in Scotland.
Siberian Larch (Larix sibirica) is a deciduous coniferous tree, native to north-western Russia, east from the Finnish border. It is a relative to European larch (Larix decidua). The leaves are needle-like, light green, 2-5 cm long, and turn bright yellow before they fall in the autumn. It is faster-growing than many other coniferous trees in cold regions. Larch is rot resistant wood, popular for outdoor structures.
The heartwood is pale reddish-brown in colour, sharply defined from the narrow, lighter-coloured sapwood. It is a very resinous wood, with clearly marked annual rings. It has a straight grain, a fine, uniform texture and is rather heavy.
Oak (Quercus robur) requires no lengthy introduction. It is a long-lived, large deciduous tree that is spread around Europe and the Caucasus. It produces long-lasting and durable heartwood that is very dense. The tree’s extensive foliage is home to many species of wildlife and in nature usually reaches several centuries of age.
Birch (Betula pendula) is a deciduous hardwood, recognisable from its white trunk that has horizontal black stripes. It is a pioneer species widespread in the Northern Hemisphere, mainly in northern temperate and boreal climates. Birch wood is fine-grained and pale in colour, often with an attractive satin-like sheen that highlights the value of the timber for veneer and furniture-making.
Birch is the national tree of Finland and symbolises growth and renewal in the Celtic cultures. Birch also has many uses, for example its sap can be used as a natural sweetener (Xylitol) that is healthy for teeth and gums.
Alder (Alnus glutinosa) is a type of alder in the familyBetulaceae, native to most of Europe, including the British Isles and Fennoscandia. It is a relative of birch. It is a deciduous tree that likes moist soils. As the Latin name glutinosa implies, the buds and young leaves are slightly sticky with a resinous gum. The wood is soft, white when first cut, turning to pale red; the knots are beautifully mottled.
Alder wood is very durable in wet conditions, and it has therefore been used, for example in Venice and Amsterdam, for building foundations in wet ground. This quality naturally makes it excellent for outdoor furniture use. As the wood is soft, flexible and fairly light, it can be easily worked on.