Weeping welcomed here

A few posts back I mentioned that I would be sharing some of my ideas for conifer groupings in my future garden. One of the primary features of any plant grouping is the “focal point.” This concept applies to large garden vistas, smaller viewing spaces and all the way down to container gardens. You have probably heard someone use the phrase, “thriller, filler and spiller” when talking about container garden design, and the same basic concept applies to the full-sized garden. Each of the plant groupings that I will share will incorporate this basic design concept in one way or another.

Picea omorika ‘Gotelli Weeping’ – This specimen “thriller” is a brilliant focal point in the garden.

One of my favorite larger “thriller” plants is a beautiful form of the Serbian Spruce. This cultivar was admired many years ago growing in the National Arboretum with the name, Picea omorika ‘Pendula’ and was propagated and sold for many years with that name. In 1979 a respected conifer enthusiast and grower gave it a distinct cultivar name because it appeared to have unique characteristics and it was believed to be important to keep clones of this distinct tree separate from the assorted other pendulous forms that had been marketed under the name ‘Pendula’. Unfortunately, it has taken many years for that name change to take place throughout the world of conifers (including conifer growers) so this magnificent cultivar may still be found in US garden centers under the name P.o. ‘Pendula’.

‘Gotelli Weeping’ is a large tree pushing out a foot or two of new leader growth per year, depending on its cultural conditions. The young graft I had in my past garden pushed 15 to 18 inches of terminal growth the last two years in my care. At the time of this writing, the specimen pictured here is over 22 feet tall. It was 12 feet tall when it was planted in the Jean Iseli Memorial Garden in 2008.

I will plant ‘Gotelli Weeping’ as a specimen focal point and then add dwarf conifers, Japanese Maples and other ornamental plants to fill in space and add color and texture. “Spillers” in this case may be a combination of ground covering conifers, perennial plants and annual flowers. I my case, I expect that my future garden will be confined to a smaller suburban space, so I will want to plan carefully where I place any larger trees. When planting my ‘Gotelli Weeping’ I will want to provide ample space for it to grow large and to be viewed from all angles.

Next time I will discuss some of the “filler” plants that are high on my list to plant near this fine specimen.

Conifer Lover

8 thoughts on “Weeping welcomed here

  1. Hi Ed… Glad to see the photo in this post… I put in this tree last season and it’s now about 4-5 feet tall… some winterburn but it will be ok… i love it!! We had lots of damage and loss this winter which hurts, but part of gardening I guess… a couple questions… I bought a couple neat plants today that I can’t locate on the internet… one is Picea abies ‘Blaze’ and it’s a sight to behold! The other is a Betula jaquemontii ‘Tickle Creek’ which is spectacular… I think both are out of Iseli but find nothing on their site regarding them… thoughts? Thanks, Larry

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Larry! Wow, you are an early bird on both those finds. From what I understand, they both had a very limited release this year! I believe there will be some information in their upcoming catalog (both in print and electronic) about both of those plants. The same people who produce their catalog also update the website, so it tends to lag behind this time of year when they are producing their big catalog. (Plus I pop in with requests for blog information and photos like they don’t already have plenty to do!) I am told that the new catalog will be available on their website around the first of June.

      I spotted the ‘Blaze’ on a visit just a few weeks ago and they looked like they had just popped their buds. Yours is beautiful! It is definitely a slower, more compact grower than ‘Rubra Spicata’ so it should make a very nicely formed tree, but it will become large over time. I suspect if one were inclined to shear it, it could become quite dense and compact and be an even more stunning sight iwht its spring push.

      The ‘Tickle Creek’ is a propagation from a fascinating witches broom that was found on an older tree in the landscape. The bark looks like it will eventually brighten to a nice white with dark, textured fissures in time, but none are old enough to know for sure just yet. I do like the copper color of the twigs and the foliage is very fine! Should be a cold hardy specimen for you.


  2. Hi Ed,

    I enjoy your posts. I live in Massachusetts and would like to start miniature gardens in containers. Do I have to bring them inside in the winter?




    1. Hi Jane – As a general rule, I advise folks to choose plants for their container gardens that are hardy a zone or two colder than where they will be planted. This helps compensate for any insulation factor that being planted in the ground might offer. If your location experiences hard enough freezes to break ceramic pots in the winter, then you might choose to plant your container gardens in plastic pots or wood boxes. I have seen very lovely examples of both available that would be suitable for the patio or deck. Some folks in terribly harsh winter regions do take their containers in to a well-lit, unheated garage so they are safe from harsh conditions but still go into dormancy. Don’t take them into the house to grow as house plants through the winter!


  3. First off Ed… thanks for your response… much appreciated! Also Jane, I hold hyper-tuffa containers in an unheated garage over winter and the conifers do quite well… I water once or twice over winter…. be careful about readapting them to sunlight though… despite precautions, I have a couple that have burned this week… I suspect the new growth buds will bring them back fine though… Larry


    1. I bought mine at Allisonville Nursery in Fishers, Indiana a few years ago. I came here because it is not doing so well:-/


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