This has been a fantastic summer for enjoying our fire pit. Some summers are so hot that at nine or ten o’clock at night, when we feel like sitting around a campfire, it is still 80 degrees outside. Not this year. This year, not only do I wear a sweatshirt, but I actually enjoy the warmth of the fire.
Last night as my wife and I were snuggled in our Adirondack love seat near the fire pit, out of nowhere my wife mentioned how much she liked the Pinus parviflora ‘Bergman’ just across the pit from where we sat. Now, hearing this from my wife was quite a surprise because she has always made it crystal clear that she does not like pines. (Actually, there are a few pines in the garden that she has admired over the years – and now that I am thinking about it, they have all been cultivars of Pinus parviflora (the Japanese white pine).
In my last post I mentioned one of our favored variegated conifers, Pinus parviflora ‘Ogon janome’. My wife loves its soft foliage and variegated needles. Pinus parviflora ‘Goldilocks’ is another brightly colored cultivar that my wife absolutely loves. ‘Goldilocks’ is one the brightest yellows you will see in a pine. Depending on culture, Goldilocks can be trained as a very straight tree or be allowed to follow the beat of its own drummer and mature into a wonderful specimen with gentle curves that add striking character to this small tree.
Another Japanese white pine that has won the admiration of my wife is Pinus parviflora ‘Catherine Elizabeth’. This delightful little beauty is soft textured with short bluish green needles and a compact rounded form. Growing just a few inches a year, ‘Catherine Elizabeth’ will fill her space in the garden relatively slowly. She responds well to a little candle pruning in spring/early summer if you desire a tighter, more compact plant.
The last time my wife joined me for a walk around the display gardens at Iseli, she honed right in on one of the smallest Japanese white pines I have ever seen. This is one of Iseli’s seedlings under evaluation. With new growth of two or three centimeters and tiny curled needles, this irregularly formed miniature captured both our imaginations. I don’t expect to see this little fella in the local garden center anytime soon, but it sure is something to look forward to.
I’m excited that my wife is beginning to move past her dislike of pines in general and is finding joy in a broader group of conifers. Go team conifer!