A brilliant stunner!

Having a close association with the good folks at Iseli Nursery, I have the opportunity to make regular visits to the Jean Iseli Memorial Garden which surrounds the main office. This garden was in the early planning stages near the end of Jean’s life and the full design and construction of “stage one” was completed shortly after his death in 1986. Since that time, the garden has matured and expanded as new areas are designed and built. One of the largest expansions occurred in 2008 when the “West Garden” was added. That was the time when I first took notice of the amazing dwarf fir which is the subject of today’s blog.

Native to the mountains of Japan, Abies veitchii is a forest tree with a long history of use in the creation of small tools and utility items as well as in construction, paper products, and occasionally as an ornamental tree in the landscape. Over the years, dwarf mutations have been discovered and propagated, making their way to conifer collectors and gardening enthusiasts around the world. The one I am featuring today is a cultivar called, ‘Heddergott’ which was discovered in 1970 by Heddergott Nursery in Germany.

Abies veitchii ‘Heddergott’ is a stunning, slow growing conifer with brilliant white foliage highlights – perfect for smaller gardens.

One of the features of Abies veitchii is its bright white undersides to the green needles, which accounts for one of the tree’s common names, Heddergott Veitch Fir. The dwarf cultivar, ‘Heddergott’ shows off this stunning feature quite readily due a number of its needles which turn or twist, exposing their brilliant, bright white undersides so that from whatever angle you might view the plant, there are rows of perfectly aligned needles shining brightly in your direction. This pattern repeats itself across the plant, in varying angles due to the low, irregular branching habit of this slow-growing, densely clothed plant.

When young, its form reminds me of a silver cloaked hedgehog, but with age it should develop into more of a vase-shaped plant. Occasional pruning of more dominant growth can help guide the plant to remain in more of a globe-shaped form if one desires. Rated as hardy into Zone 4, this stunning, small garden conifer performs best in moist, well-drained soil. In the Pacific Northwest, it is thriving in a full sun location, but in harsher climates with longer and higher-heat summers, it might be a good idea to provide some dappled shade to prevent sun scorch – at least until it becomes well-rooted into its new home.

Bright silvery-white undersides of the needles are exposed making ‘Heddergott’ a very desirable feature plant for containers, rock gardens, or anywhere a slow-growing plant with stunning features is desired – just be prepared for a lot of complements on your cool new plant!

I plan to get my hands on one of these beauties as soon as I can. Since it grows just four to six inches per year, I think I’ll start with a small one that I can grow in a container on my patio for a few years. I’m confident that it will inspire many oooos and ahhhs from our guests. Then, when it has some size, I’ll find a prominent location where it’s bright, shimmering presence will command attention – perhaps near a dark green dwarf pine and a deep red Japanese maple.

May your garden grow more peaceful every day!

Conifer Lover

6 thoughts on “A brilliant stunner!

  1. I got mine a couple of years ago. It truly does inspire oooos & ahhhs from my guests and especially from me. I’m waiting for a six-gallon Pinus parviflora ‘Tanima no Yuki’ from Iseli. I expect some ooos & aaaahs from that one in the spring.


    1. Hi Judith, I always encourage folks to have their favorite local independent garden centers order plants in that they do not normally carry. This one would be worth the wait!


  2. Thank you for your beautiful post.  It leads me to think perhaps I should get serious about planting a dwarf conifer in my own garden, despite it’s being rather full.  I garden in Bellingham, WA with lots of sunny exposure, but my empty spots are more in the shade, and deer are everywhere.  How strongly attracted are deer to small, low-growing fir that are right at their browsing level?


    Naomi Rudo 


    1. Hi Naomi – If deer are already nibbling on plants in your garden, they may eventually take a taste of small garden conifers, but they will generally choose other plants first. I had my first problem with deer this spring, but they were choosing my young vegetable plants and not touching the conifers.

      Here are a few past posts where I discussed the challenge of deer in the garden:





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