After one of the mildest first two months of a new year, today our temperature is dropping to more winter-like crispness. Snow levels are dropping and we may even see sloppy wet snow mixed with rain at our elevation. As much as I have enjoyed an early start to my garden chores, I am hopeful that the colder weather will extend my garden’s plant dormancy a little longer. If my Larix or Acers begin to push their tender new growth too early, they will very likely get hit with a spring-time frost that is typical in our area. On the other hand, I am in great anticipation for the onslaught of color that is coming soon to my conifer garden!
I am extremely enthusiastic about one conifer in particular. Pinus contorta ‘Taylor’s Sunburst’ is an amazing tree that will pick up where ‘Chief Joseph’ leaves off. I’ve shared my excitement about the good Chief in the past and I’ve described how tired he can become at the end of his winter show. Within weeks, ‘Taylor’s Sunburst’ literally bursts into its glory as it begins to extend its spring candles of brilliant golden yellow. As the candles continue to extend and the needles expand, the color becomes a little less gold and takes on a tone as if a little cream were added to the mix. This creamy yellow color becomes very prominent against the dark green older foliage that was the sunburst of springs gone by. Place ‘Taylor’s Sunburst’ near other dark green or blue conifers for a spectacular color display. Throw a deep red Japanese Maple into the mix and you will find it difficult to pull your eyes away from this special space in your garden.
Discovered in the Rocky Mountains, high in Colorado, ‘Taylor’s Sunburst’ is a hardy Lodge Pole Pine that requires a well drained soil. Generally an upright growing intermediate sized tree, it can become somewhat irregular in form. I like the rugged, mountain grown look it can provide. With a little careful pruning and candle pinching, it can become a manageable, compact pyramid of spring gold. As summer approaches with its longer days and warmer temperatures, ‘Taylor’s Sunburst’ kicks up its chlorophyll production and its foliage becomes greener – possibly a natural defense against the sun scalding the more tender yellow foliage. Through fall and winter, this tree steps out of the spotlight in time for ‘Chief Joseph’ to shine bright.
I anticipate a beautiful spring garden and I hope you will experience the joy a conifer garden can provide.