Look no further for a lifetime of gardening enjoyment

During one of my last walks through the garden, before the first series of autumn rain storms hit the Pacific Northwest, I was struck by the beauty of what some might consider to be “just another evergreen tree.” The truth is, Picea abies ‘Acrocona’ is an extraordinary tree with great landscape functionality and multi-season appeal.

Picea abies 'Acrocona'
Picea abies ‘Acrocona’ displays its tan colored cones in the autumn sun.

Possibly the most prominent feature of ‘Acrocona’ is its prolific production of cones which hang like decorative ornaments on the multiple branch ends and vary through the seasons from intensely bright pink, to purple in spring, to reddish-tinged green during the summer, an almost golden-brown in autumn and finally darker brown through the winter. During the winter, most of the mature cones will have dispersed their seed, break down and fall off of the tree. Some remnants of older cones may be visible in springtime when the first tiny, bright pink pollen cones begin to emerge, announcing that the new cycle of life is beginning.

Picea abies 'Acrocona'
The pollen cones of Picea abies ‘Acrocona’ emerge early in spring.

I briefly mentioned in an earlier post about ‘Acrocona’ its unusual branching and growth habit which is most noticeable during the plant’s youth. As my tree has matured, it has become more and more beautiful with its combination of thick, vigorous branches and what appear to be smaller, weaker branches which give the tree an upright, broadly pyramidal form filled with a combination of sweeping and weeping branches.

Picea abies 'Acrocona'
The seed bearing cones of Picea abies ‘Acrocona’ during the peak of their pink color stage.

The unusual growth habit of ‘Acrocona’ very much insures that no two trees will look exactly alike, and make them an excellent choice to use as a primary focal point in garden design. Their four full seasons of color, supplied by the rich, grass-green foliage and the ever-changing cones as they move through their annual cycle, give ‘Acrocona’ the ability to capture attention and add visual interest to a level which is available in few other plants.

Picea abies 'Acrocona'
Large, dense, summer cones of Picea abies ‘Acrocona’ begin to make their gradual color shift from bright pink to a red-tinged green.

I love the way the cones begin as such tiny little pink buds and grow rather quickly into large, dense, purple red cones. The appearance of the cones, dangling from the tips and along branches reminds me of a tree decorated for the Christmas holidays. As the cones grow larger and heavier, they seem to move in a dance, swaying at the ends of windswept branches. When growing in clusters, the cones will weigh down branches, pulling them from their usual upward sweeping form to a downturned direction, sometimes reaching the ground. Fortunately the branches are very flexible, and I have yet to see any remarkable breakage from either the heavy cones or wet, sloppy snow.

Picea abies 'Acrocona'
The golden-brown, autumn cones of Picea abies ‘Acrocona’.

‘Acrocona’ is a fun tree which will provide a lifetime of enjoyment. I suggest you plant one while you are young and enjoy its playful presence for many years to come.

Ed-
Conifer Lover

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7 thoughts on “Look no further for a lifetime of gardening enjoyment

    1. Hi D – My first thought is to simply visit your favorite local independently owned garden center and ask them to make a special order for you. I could contact a friend with experience in your area and have them message you at your email address if you like.

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  1. Hi Ed… I spent the entire day visiting wonderful conifer collections and nurseries in Southern Wisconsin. I wanted to tell you that I finally got to see a wonderful specimen of North Wind Maple (you told me about these crosses between Japanese and Korean maples may moons ago). It was about 7′ by 7′ and the fall color was ‘to die for’…. fantastic! I can’t wait to find one for myself. I did get to make a few purchases for the gardens today, including Picea pungens ‘Walnut Glen’ (I’ve wanted one of these forever!), Picea abies ‘Hillside upright’ (did I see this on one of your posts… need to check that out…), a nice plant of Picea orientalis ‘Skylands’ (my second), and Picea pungens ‘Dietz Prostrate’. needless to say the endorphines are running on high as I can’t wait for daylight to find new homes for these plants. Still totally enjoying your blog! Larry

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