One of the reasons I love conifers so much is the grand assortment of cones that are borne on their branches. Springtime is great because all the plants in my garden begin to wake up after their winter’s nap and show new life. The beauty of fresh new conifer foliage is a wonderful highlight to the garden in spring. Most of my attention is drawn by the new foliage on my conifers and Japanese maples, as well as the various flowering bulbs and perennials that begin their show in spring. With all that going on, it can be easy to miss the early cone development stages of some of my conifers. With young cones ranging in colors from scarlet red, to dark blue and purple, to yellowish green, and with their assortment of sizes and shapes, I want to be sure to discover every one in my garden.
Abies koreana ‘Horstmann’s Silberlocke’ is one conifer that sets its cones prolifically in the spring. The young, light yellowish green cones might be missed with casual observation, but by looking closely, one may find a treasure of small, highly detailed cones among the upper branches of even young trees. Later in the season, as the cones mature, they become a darker brownish purple color and are often found to be oozing a significant amount of resin. The cones are a real bonus since ‘Horstmann’s Silberlocke’ is already a great conifer even if you don’t have a particular interest in cones. The “Silberlocke” translates to “silver lock” because the green needles curve upward around each branch exposing their bright white undersides. The overall effect looks like silvery locks of hair.
The tree grows into a formal upright conical shape that can look great as a lone specimen commanding all attention, or placed in a large border with other colorful conifers and flowering plants. I purchased my ‘Horstmann’s Silberlocke’ about 18 years ago through a special package deal that the American Conifer Society was promoting. My tree is now close to 15 feet tall and a specimen that always draws “oooos” and “ahhhs” from my guests.