EdRemsrola

My name is Ed Remsrola. I am a gardening enthusiast with a special interest in conifers. I’ve been collecting conifers for nearly 40 years and I am good friends with the fine gardening folks at Iseli Nursery. I absolutely love conifers! Big ones, small ones, miniature ones, green, blue, yellow and varigated ones – I just love them. I’ve gardened with conifers most of my life and I can’t get enough of them. I’ll be sharing with you pictures of some of my favorites and telling you stories of my adventures as a conifer gardener. I hope you’ll enjoy the journey.

Ed- Conifer Lover

Garden photography by Randall C. Smith

70 thoughts on “EdRemsrola

  1. I recently acquired an Abies lasiocarpa that supposedly came from Iseli. It is named “Marty Jones” It is in a 1 gal pot and looks like pretty good bonsai as it is. Can you tell me anything about it or how to contact someone who can.

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    1. Hi Ed – can you tell me the species of conifer in the photos at the top of your webpage?
      I think two of them are Korean Fir – but I don’t recognize the others …

      /Daragh

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      1. Hi Daragh – Here are the names from left to right:
        (Updated 5/4/2017 due to new banner.)
        Tsuga canadensis ‘Albo Spica’
        Pseudotsuga menziesii ‘Blue’
        Abies koreana ‘Aurea’
        Abies cephalonica ‘Meyer’s Dwarf’
        Abies koreana ‘Green Carpet’
        Abies koreana ‘Blauer Pfiff’

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  2. wtmsjr, thanks for your comment – I’ve just talked with my friends at Iseli and here is the story on Abies lasiocarpa ‘Marty Jones.’

    Marty Jones of Colorado Alpines in Edwards, CO discovered the original plant in the wild (I presume in Colorado although I do not know for sure.) He sent propagation wood to Iseli and several grafts were made. After some evaluation time, it was decided not to be a plant to pursue by Iseli, so the plants propagated from his wood were shipped back to Marty so he could grow them on.

    I hope you have success with your find – it sounds like you found one with great character.

    Ed-
    Conifer Lover

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  3. Ed love your blog. The photos of the plants from Iseli are always stunning.

    I’ve started my own blog on conifers and other things.

    Thanks
    Steve

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  4. Ed,
    Thank you for a wonderful web site. Could you suggest an alternative to Balsam Fir? Our neighbor suggests 2 offset rows of trees on our property line. I am concerned about loss of views above the trees in 20 years when the tree height exceeds 25 feet. I hoping for a maximum height of 25 feet. We live in zone 7.
    Thank you – Mike

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    1. First off, thanks for stopping by.

      Second, let me point you in a couple directions to do some research. Be sure to check out my blog post here: https://coniferlover.wordpress.com/2008/05/28/a-few-simple-words/ I discuss conifer growth rates and how to determine mature size. Keep in mind that conifers don’t stop growing at some given height. Also check out the American Conifer Society site and the Garden Web Conifer forum (links to the right).

      Other things to consider:
      Your relationship with your neighbor.
      Amount of space on your property along the proposed tree line.
      Do you simply want a windbreak/screen or do you desire something else?

      You might plant an assortment of different trees with differing growth rates to achieve your purpose while adding interest to the garden space and ensuring the preservation of at least some of your view.

      Ed

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      1. Thank you for the very thoughtful suggestions.
        Could you suggest a designer(s) who’s plan would result in .. Oh – wow and Oooooo? The location is Virginia.
        Mike

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    1. Brrrr… I’m thinking that is some cold winter territory there, Jake. First thing that comes to mind is Pine. Perhaps a couple cultivars of P. heldrechi leucodermis or P. mugo would suit that region. I’ll have a local expert be in touch with you via email. He should be able to guide you in the right direction.

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  5. Hi Ed,

    I just wanted to let you know how much I love this site. I’ve gotten so much great information from it. I’m old to gardening (25 years) but new to conifers. It’s been a new love since last spring. I planted about 25 since then and now am watching them wistfully through the window hoping they all survive the winter. It’s pretty cold here right now in Northeastern WI. Lots of snow though to protect them so far. Anyway, I love your site, your blog is fun to read. Regular folk just don’t get our enthusiasm I find and its nice to find someone out there who really gets it. I haven’t found too many that are as enthused as I am..well..my husband might say obsessed. At least its a healthy obsession..:)
    You take care and Happy Holidays to you,

    Cindi in WI

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  6. Ed,

    Great blog you have! It’s fun reading your insights about conifers. I used to think that conifers weren’t all that interesting, probably because all I saw all the time were pines along the highways and interstates. But one of my favorite spots here in Richmond, VA, Maymont Park, has extensive plantings of Junipers, Falsecypress, Cedars, Spruces, and Pines of such a variety of shapes and textures and colors that it’s just breathtaking. Just got back from the National Arboretum in DC, touring their conifer collection, and I must say I’m hooked!

    Anyway, my question is, if we get a mild day here (looks to be in the mid 40s this week), would it be safe to plant a few conifers? Keeping them watered wouldn’t be a problem, and the soil does drain well. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Rudy – If the conditions are good for planting anything in your area right now and you’ve purchased your conifers locally, I think you should be fine. Check with the folks at your local quality garden center to be sure.

      Ed-

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  7. Hi Ed!

    I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy this blog. Being a young conifer addict(16), I love to come over here and see what is going on in the conifer world. I have never posted around here, but have been lurking for well over a year. I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy coming over here and finding new updates to read! It is nice to have a place to come and find new ideas that use plants other than your everyday basics. I also enjoy obtaining good information, while still holding my interest with comic relief. I appreciate all that you do!
    — Hayden

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  8. Hi Ed!

    I have been visiting your blog for about six months now and I really admire what you are doing. I, too, like conifers a great deal, as well as your style of writing. I also, like you, have a blog about plants (sort of an all-season horticultural blog) and I would like to include you in my blogroll (I am new to this, so please excuse any erroneous terminology, if any). Would this be ok with you?

    Take a look @: The Green Season and see if you like my content.

    Anyway, thanks for being around for me to enjoy–and also, to see how it’s done.

    Cordially,

    William

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    1. Hi William – Welcome to the blogging world. Believe me, I had no idea what I was doing when I started, so I just began to write. It helps to have good friends at Iseli that provide photos for me. I’d be happy to be on your blogroll (like you, I’m not quite sure what that means other than providing a link). :^)

      Good luck with your blog and may your garden become filled with conifers. ;^)

      Ed-

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  9. Dear Ed-
    Because of a “thuja occidentalis” google search, I was fortunate enough to run across your website/blog. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU…I could feel my blood pressure going down, just looking at your garden and reading you comments..LOL….I will now be a loyal reader and visitor to your “world”…Being on the east coast,esp. in the NC mtns, some of your beautiful conifers are unavailable, but I am fortunate enough to have a local garden purveyor that travels to Oregon/Washington and returns with beautiful conifers etc.
    Evan Eudy

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  10. Hi Ed,
    I was wondering if I could get some advice from you. I am designing a garden and will be definately adding a pinus strobus ‘Niagara Falls’. Do you have any conifers that you would suggest to accompany it? I live in Ottawa, Ontario. Thanks for your help.

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    1. Hi Candace – you have asked a very broad question. Could you describe the space in which the ‘Niagara Falls’ will be featured? Will it be the primary specimen? Will you be using non-conifers in the space?

      I’m happy to offer suggestions, but what I am picturing in my mind may be very different than your reality.

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  11. Of course…I should explain more. This new garden is a addition to an already created garden that is about 5 years old. The current garden has a fairly large amount of conifers that are mixed in with perennials. Some of the conifers that are already there are Picea pungens ‘Pendula’, Chamaecyparis pis. sungold, Larix pendula, Juniperus chin ‘Fairview’, Piccolo Dwarf balsam fir, St. Mary’s broom x2, Starker’s dwarf korean fir, Tolleymore spruce, Picea omorika ‘Pendula Bruns’….
    Unfortunately I don’t see any way to attach a link to show you a picture.
    The garden is backing onto a fence and is approximately 12 feet wide by 20 feet long. There is nothing in the bed at this time. The area is very sunny. Drainage is okay. Soil is very good.

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    1. I should add that yes…I would like it to be a primary specimen with other conifers in a secondary role. I may add some perennials as fillers to the garden as well.

      I am not completely stuck on it being the primary specimen either..I do find it incredibly beautiful though so I would like to show it off.

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      1. Candace, I like the idea of it being the primary specimen. I think it will be spectacular as it matures.

        Your choices of conifers to plant nearby are endless. I would stay with smaller dwarfs and miniatures to keep in scale with your ‘Niagara Falls’. A few things that come to mind are:
        Pinus strobus ‘Sea Urchin’
        Abies koreana ‘Cis’
        Abies koreana ‘Silberpearl’
        Picea abies ‘Barryi’
        Picea pungens ‘Roundabout’
        Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Golden Pin Cushion’
        Tsuga heterophylla ‘Thorsen’s Weeping’
        Thuja occidentalit ‘Rheingold’ (you would probably want to keep this one lightly sheared – but it’s color is amazing).
        Picea pungens ‘Procumbens’
        Pinus mugo ‘Mitsch Mini’
        Picea glauca ‘Pixie Dust’

        These are just the first few to pop into mind to give you a lot of color and size and shape variation. Add some rocks, other companion plants, a few more conifers, and you’ll have beautiful new space!

        Let me know how it comes out!

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  12. Any experience with dwarf Picea orientalis ‘Gracilis’? The tag says it is dwarf, and the nursery owner said it will grow to 3 feet high. But any internet search on ‘Gracilis’ shows me the 15 foot high beautiful orientalis spruce. Too big for my spot!

    I’m wondering if there is something like a ‘Nana gracilis’ although the tag did not say nana. And will it stay 3 feet high?

    Thanks for any experience you can share on this pretty (and hopefully small) spruce. Your blog is a great source of information and a delight to read.

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    1. Hi Laurrie – A couple things to remember when considering the size of dwarf conifers. First, the word “dwarf” is relative to the species. If the species, in your case Picea orientalis, grows 12 to 14 inches per year then any of its cultivars growing less than that would be considered a dwarf form. Also keep in mind that conifers do not reach a certain size and then just stop growing. The American Conifer Society has developed a reference chart with size designations that most in the conifer world have adopted. I wrote a longer explanation in an earlier blog post that you may want to refer to. If you are looking for a very small form of Picea orientalis, the cultivar, ‘Mt. Vernon’ is excellent. I’ve seen a 25 year old specimen that is approximately three feet wide and 1.5 feet tall. I will get larger, but very, very slowly.

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  13. Ed, thanks for responding. The info on growth rates versus size specs is really helpful, here and in the earlier post. I think this dwarf (slow) picea will work for me for a long time, growing slowly in the spot I have for it.

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  14. Hi, Ed–
    Just found your website on a search for Juniper horizontalis “Mother Lode,” which I purchased at a local gardening center. I’d like to use it as a foundation planting for my 1915 Arts & Crafts Foursquare house in New York (upper Westchester County), in back of a row of lavender angustifolia. I’m worried, though, that in winter heavy snow tends to come crashing off the porch roof and land with a cartoonish *thud* right on top of whatever’s planted there–and pretty much STAY there until it thaws. Can Mother Lode (or any other juniper, for that matter) endure a snow load? Or do I need to build a protective cage of some kind? Thanks for your help!

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  15. Ed,

    I’d like to send you a picture of a conifer flower looking thing. I’m not sure what it is and am hoping you can tell me. If you send an email to my email address above I’ll forward the picture to you. It’s off a pine tree from Cedar Ridge (next to Grass Valley), California.

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    1. Hi Mike – I’d like to invite you to join us at our Facebook page. You can easily post pictures there and have the combined experience of all the folks to help determine what it is you’ve got. A couple weeks ago a woman posted a very unusual looking “flower” on a Juniper, and one of the other members was able to identify it as a fungus or rust right away. There’s strength in numbers! :^)

      Here’s a link to the Facebook page.

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  16. Hi Ed, I just found your blog, and I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say you changed my life! At least, my garden life. I still consider myself a novice gardener, with only 20 years “experience” but I currently have NO evergreens. No, not one! It is so sad in the winter. With all the overgrown, crowded, boring yews that have seen used as foundation plants, I never appreciated the variety and beauty of conifers, but you have changed that. I am now armed with a list to go “hunting” my local and mail order retailers. You have not only a new convert, but, knowing me, I have a new obsession-to add year-round interest to my perennial garden! Thanks!!!

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  17. Ed,

    Help! Caterpillars are overtaking my Pinus mugo and stripping the newer candles of their needles. I tried spraying them with an organic, natural insect spray (EcoSmart, which has various plant oils in it) but to no avail. Any way I can stop them without disfiguring the mugo? Thanks!

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    1. Hi Rudie – My favorite method of pest removal is by hand. That isn’t always practical, but if your mugo isn’t too big, that’s what I would do. Aside from that, and what you have already mentioned, you could try the Conifer forum over at Gardenweb.com. I seem to remember folks talking about pests on their mugos in the past there, and they may have some alternatives for you. My other thought is check with your local extensional agent.

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  18. My local nursery has in a yew Taxus cuspidata ‘Dwarf Bright Gold’ which is lovely and I have just the spot for it; however, I can’t find any info as to the heat index for this yew. I also need to know the soil acidity, etc. before I invest $50. I live in Carlsbad CA. Anyone have any ideas before the nursery sells them!

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    1. Hi PBis – Living in the Northwest, the heat index is something I have never needed to consider. I do have a couple friends that may be able to offer some expert advice for you though. I’ll pass your question on to them and see if we can’t get you an answer. What is your USDA zone and what are your extreme temperatures in Carlsbad?

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  19. This yew is very heat tolerant. Soil porosity is an important factor for this plant species. Taxus needs a well-drained home to first establish itself. The soil ph is also important. This plant requires a neutral ph (non-acidic and non-alkaline). I would suggest amending the native soil with compost. The garden center supplying your plant(s) will be able to help you make the right choices. Placement of the plant is very important for success. It should be planted in nearly full shade and protected from drying winter winds. Follow these guidelines and best of luck!

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  20. Ed,
    Thank you for all your wonderfull information. The artlcle on Shishigashira Maple mentions optimum fertilization. Can you share what would be optimium fertilization? We have 2 male and 1 female plants about three feet tall.
    Thank you
    Mike

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    1. Hi Mike, thanks for your comments – glad you’re enjoying the blog! I believe the article you are referring to is on the Iseli Nursery website (just to clarify for other readers). In that article, I mentioned finding the optimal mix of fertilization and irrigation to grow healthy trees in a production setting. What is optimal in that situation is not at all what I would consider optimal for the home gardener. In fact, I prefer to fertilize as little as possible in my garden, adding only organic materials to build up healthy soil conditions. The most accurate way to determine what your specific soil may require is, of course, to have a soil test done. Your local county extension agent may be able to help with this. Simple soil test kits are readily available to test your soil pH, which is often the best place to begin.

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  21. Ed, thank you for your beautiful and inspiring blog, which I stumbled on while conducting a search for dwarf conifers. I live in Brooklyn, NY (Zone 7), and am in the process of adding some dwarf conifers to the perennial borders of my small, south-facing backyard garden. I am also looking for dwarf / alpine conifers to plant in a very large container that sits on a north-facing balcony in partial sun. We don’t have a car, so I’d probably be mail-ordering the plants. I’d appreciate any suggestions for conifers to add to my perennial borders (in the back) as well as the container. I keep seeing things I like online, but want to make sure I select a reputable nursery for shipping.

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    1. Greetings – I am pleased that you found the blog in your search for some of my favorite plants! I would be happy to make suggestions for your garden and containers, but honestly, without more information I can’t possibly know where to begin. Especially since you are Zone 7, which opens the door to a vast number of possibilities. I can point you in a couple directions that will certainly be helpful.

      There are some websites you should visit. One is the American Conifer Society site. They have a great introduction to conifers and an excellent chart that will help you understand conifer growth rate categories (which I also have discussed here and here). Also, be sure you visit the conifer forum at The Garden Web. There are a lot of friendly and helpful folks there. While there, do a search for online sellers of conifers, I know they have compiled lists over the past few years that should be very helpful. Be sure to have a look at the Iseli Nursery site. They are wholesale growers and have tons of photos and descriptions of many of the best (and most readily available) dwarf and miniature conifers.

      Of course, be sure to spend some time browsing the archives right here. You might also use the search tool at the top of my page to help direct you to any specific cultivars that you are interested in and I may have mentioned in past posts.

      Also, if you are on Facebook, you could visit my page.

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  22. Hi, Ed! I love your site and as a result want more conifers in my life!
    For now I have a question…About 6 weeks ago I purchased a grafted weeping Larch online. It arrived a couple of days later looking pretty good! Planted it in the rain the next day…we had a good bit of rain the first couple of weeks. Within the first week it lost all of it’s needles. I water it whenever we go more than a couple of days without rain. The I scratch the bark below the grafted portion I’m still seeing green. If I scratch it just above the grafted portion I’m seeing green, but if I scratch the weeping branches there is no green. Is there any way to tell for sure if it has gone dormant due to the shock of shipping? If it did, how long would it take for it to start showing signs of life? I have another month left before I can no longer return it.

    Thanks!
    Kelly in WV

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    1. Hi Kelly – I’m happy that you want more conifers in your life, but saddened by your Larch story.

      Since you are in WV I will presume that you purchased your Weeping Larch from a North American company. That being the case, there is no reason for it to suddenly go into dormancy. Now, a transplant shock could cause needle loss in your situation, but I would expect that a healthy Larix would have shown some signs of pushing new growth by now.

      You mention seeing green when you scratch the areas both below and above the graft union, but that there is no visible green when scratching the branches. Even when plants are in dormancy, they should remain green under the bark. It sounds like your plant may survive, but has little chance of growing from the weeping branches.

      How did the roots look when you received/planted it? Were they healthy and succulent with white growing tips or were they withered and brown or dark and mushy?

      At this point it seems you may have received a plant with little hope of survival.

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  23. The pictures you post of conifers all look so serene (and low maintenance!)!

    It was shipped bare root. The roots were brown, but I don’t remember them being mushy. Think I’ll take it back today and see about refund. Now do I try ordering it online again (not available in the store) or do I find another source….. I so badly want this tree!

    Thank you so much for your help!

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  24. I have enjoyed your blogs. Could you tell me what the third from the left conifer is (the one with the red cones) on your front page? Beautiful!

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  25. Dear Ed,
    I usually get your newsletters when I’m working late and it’s always a pleasure to read them and have a little break. I enjoy it immensely. I am an aspiring conifer enthusiast but my collection is very modest and probably unremarkable. when I come to the US next I will certainly come to the gardens you recommend! I have 3 pinus mugo seedlings, though, that I sprouted this spring. They are in a coupe of inches high in 10 inch pots. I was woried about overpotting but in August moved them to these larger pots as the roots were bigger than one could have thought from the upper part of the plant. They are outside on a bed of gravel (I’m in the south of the UK) and I am not sure how to ensure their survival. I am planning on putting up a cold frame which I do every year to overwinter all of my younger plants in pots. Would the pines be better in a cold frame or outside in the open? I was thinking of putting them in the ground in pots but as the weather is very very wet I’m reluctant on putting them in my hard soil. Not sure whether to insulate the pots with bubble wrap…
    Would appreciate any feed-back!
    Thanks
    Natasha

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      1. Thank you very much, Ed, I appreciate your advice. I will probably just put a wire cage around them to protect from pests.

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  26. Hi Ed. I ran across your blog and liked what I saw. However, I am unable to subscribe in my Google Reader (RSS). I have found on my blog (www.jimanderson.net/blog/) that even though most people subscribe via e-mail, several (like me) only use RSS as our e-mails are cluttered enough as it is.

    Just my two sense.

    Thanks,

    Jim

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  27. Ed, I guess I never thought about going at from from starting in in Google reader. Thanks for that what should have been obvious idea. I did easily search for you and subscribe from my reader.

    I do think an RSS subscribe button on your blog may help you get more subscribers as it makes it an easier process. Feel free to delete this comment if you want. I just thought it might be helpful to you.

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  28. I’m thinking of making a portion or all of my front yard into a small conifer and possibly heather garden. Does anyone know of a landscape/garden designer in my area?
    Thanks, Dan Stutesman, Portland, OR

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  29. Ed,
    I just bought 3 eastern weeping white pines, each about 4ft tall. The tag on them says a leader needs to be trained in order for them to be more treelike and less bushlike. 2 questions.
    How to you do that? And
    Since they are pretty upright, is that something that’s done when the tree is very young?
    Thanks Obi Wan Kenobi…you’re my only hope. Can’t find anything on the net.
    Sarah

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    1. Hi Sarah – Weeping White pines will grow into large, sprawling, irregular trees, but never become “treelike” in my opinion. They are typically trained for height when young. One may choose to continue training the main leader upward if desired by tying the flexible young growth of the main leader to a bamboo nursery-stake or other suitable material. In time the growth hardens and thickens and is able to support itself. If not staked further, the top leader-portion of the plant will begin to flop over. It may turn and grow right down to the ground, or it may grow horizontally for a time, turn upward for a season or two and then flop over again. That is part of the fun of growing Weeping White pines – each one creates its own unique form. Enjoy!

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  30. Hi Ed, I came across your great site in doing research for new plants. I’m in the Portland OR area and I’m finding a bit of conflicting info regarding ideal plant habitats and growing habits and I wanted to get your opinion on your experience with Cryptomeria japonica Black Dragon in the PNW climate. I’m trying to add a high interest columnar shaped conifer to occupy a 4′ x 5′ patch of garden between front porch and driveway, ideally 8 ‘ or less and the C. japonica Black Dragon is at the top of the list. However the location is S. facing and open and receives quite a bit of sun and heat during the summer. Would the Black Dragon fare well there or could you recommend a more heat tolerant species? The area would be irrigated regularly as it is linked to the yard sprinkler system. Also do you frequently see issues with blight here? Some of the larger specimens at the nursery had quite a bit of brown in them. Thanks in Advance, Elle Woods from Portland OR

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    1. Hi Elle – thanks for your comments! Cryptomeria japonica ‘Black Dragon’ should do just fine in your Portland, OR full sun (which as we know, is at best only partial sun most of the year!) Cryptomeria is a forest tree in Japan and thrives in our PNW climate. Cryptomeria is relatively pest-free, so what you have observed at your nursery may have been caused by drought-stress or it could simply be the natural occurrence of the plant shedding some of its older, interior foliage.

      If height is not an issue and you are primarily concerned with width of the plant to fit in your space, you might consider one of my favorite conifers, Picea glauca ‘Pendula’. This beautiful conifer will grow very tall but remain quite narrow with its branches all arching toward the ground. Follow this link for a picture… http://www.iselinursery.com/colorful-conifers/picea-spruce/picea-glauca/picea-glauca-pendula/

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