Looking for something Primo!

There is something very exciting about this spring. I’m looking forward to seeing my favorite garden centers fill up with all kinds of fresh new plants. From colorful annuals for some of the patio pots to colorful conifers for around the overall landscape and for use in patio containers.

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Primo™ Arborvitae is an exciting new dwarf conifer.

You know I love the miniature and dwarf conifers and it’s always a thrill to discover what new items are arriving at the local garden center. One plant on my list is a very new introduction to the nursery trade. Some lucky folks were able to pre-order early release plants through membership in the American Conifer Society.

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A small amount of pruning can encourage Primo™ to grow into a very slender form.

The society annually selects a couple of conifers as their Collector’s Conifers of the Year and Thuja occidentalis Primo (‘IslPrim’) was one selected for 2017. I don’t expect to find this “primo” little plant yet, but I am certainly going to keep my eyes open at every garden center I visit!

Primo originated out of a batch of Thuja occidentalis ‘Zmatlik’ seedlings. ‘Zmatlik’ has dense, unusually coarse textured foliage on a narrow, medium-fast growing tree. It is very useful as a garden screen and is hardy into Zone 3! Primo was selected out of thousands of seedlings due to its very coarse and curious foliage. Over the years of pre-release observation, it was noted that with a small amount of pruning, Primo could be very easily maintained as a narrow, small spire. When left to grow naturally, each individual plant will grow very slowly into its own sculptural form.

I am so excited about this new introduction—even if I need to wait another year, this cool little conifer will be worth the wait, and I will very likely have just the right place prepared for it to be planted.

Good hunting (conifers)!

Ed-
Conifer Lover

Back to the garden!

My goodness, we have been in the midst of quite a few frozen weeks of winter! I know my friends from the Midwest and further east will roll their eyes at me, but we have had several weeks of freezing temperatures – in a row! This rarely happens in my little corner of the Pacific Northwest, and although I love a nice, fluffy snowstorm, I am very glad that we are past the weeks of below freezing temperatures and all the freezing rain (and snow). Today we are supposed to jump up to a high temp. in the mid-40s!

“I prefer to give this beauty an annual shearing, like my neighbor does her sheep—but without all the kicking, baying and ticks.”

You would think being nearly ice-bound for a couple of weeks would have given me plenty of time to make a blog post, but, somehow, I am just now in the right mindset to think about gardening again – and I am soooo ready for spring!

This young Tsuga canadensis 'Gentsch White' has had very little shearing and is showing more of its natural, open habit.
This young Tsuga canadensis ‘Gentsch White’ has had very little shearing and is showing more of its natural, open habit. This plant is showing its beautiful white foliage near the end of the growing season.

I’ve been thinking a lot about a very lovely dwarf Canadian hemlock lately. I have added this plant to several gardens that I have grown, designed or consulted on over the years and it is one I will definitely find a place for in my new garden.

Tsuga canadensis ‘Gentsch White’ is a very bushy dwarf hemlock with long thin branches that are lined with small, flat, blunt needles. The new foliage, as it emerges, is a very bright, creamy white – sometimes with a light pinkish highlight until it hardens off. As the season progresses, older foliage fades to green, which adds to the beautiful effect of this colorful conifer. In time, and when left to grow naturally, ‘Gentsch White’ will develop into quite a large, rounded, shrubby bush. Very easy to shear, I prefer to give this beauty an annual shearing, like my neighbor does her sheep—but without all the kicking, baying and ticks. With an annual shearing, ‘Gentsch White’ is easily maintained in a manageable size for the garden and its colorful effect is enhanced as the shearing encourages a fuller form for all of that white variegated foliage.

This specimen several years older than the above and has received an annual shearing for many years. This photo shows a plant several weeks after its annual spring shearing,
This specimen is several years older than the previous photo and has received an annual shearing for many years. This photo shows the plant several weeks after its annual spring shearing.

I have seen smaller plants, maintained for many years by shearing, and I have seen very large plants that may have been sheared when young, but had not been for many years before I witnessed them. If one has the garden space, in an informal, natural-type garden, one may enjoy allowing ‘Gentsch White’ to simply do its own thing. Those larger specimens were still very impressive and looked great and added beauty to the gardens in which they were growing. For me (and I think most folks with smaller gardens) the few minutes it takes to shear and clean-up is well worth the effort to grow and maintain this wonderful conifer in the smaller, urban garden.

Tsuga canadensis ‘Gentsch White’ has been in the marketplace for decades, and remains a popular garden plant, so you should not have any trouble finding one at your favorite independent garden center.

Ed-
Conifer Lover

Colorful conifers for good health and well-being

We have just recently returned to Pacific Standard Time with our clocks falling back an hour, and even though I have allegedly gained an hour of sleep, I am already feeling the effect of shorter daylight hours. I love the summer when the sun usually wakes me up around 5:30am and finally puts me to rest after 9:30pm. Those long, bright days are truly energizing. Our recent Fall Back, hit me like a ton of topsoil and I’ve been dragging through the past couple of days.

Then, today it hit me—it’s time to start making plans for holiday decorating!

I love to make wreaths, and my wife loves hanging them both indoors and out! We recently made some major progress in organizing our garage which resulted in my having a place for my, “You’re not going to make a mess in my house” projects like holiday wreath making, candle making, whittling and carving. That is perfectly okay with me, now that I have a nice warm space to work on my projects.

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Here is one wreath I crafted in 2015. I am so looking forward to getting started this season!

One of my first projects will certainly be making wreaths for the holiday season. Conifers are perfect for this craft because of their very wide-ranging assortment of foliage colors, textures, and even their scents. One of the comments I hear when folks visit during the holidays is how fresh and “Christmasy” the house smells. I’m certain that conifers play a big role in those comments (as well as my wife’s “Swill” she has warming on the stove through the holidays).

I love to create my wreaths with an assortment of conifer foliage. I will often begin with something simple like our native, dark green, Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas Fir) or the glossy green sprays of Thuja plicata (Western Red Cedar) or Calocedrus decurrens (Incense Cedar). As I work my way around the wreath, the real fun begins as I begin to include other complimentary and/or contrasting color elements.

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Just a small sample of some of the foliage I prepared for my wreath-making in 2015. Now that I’ll have a larger workspace, I hope to make several new wreaths this holiday season!

For bright powder blue color, I love to use Cupressus glabra ‘Blue Pyramid’ or a splash of Picea pungens ‘Hoopsi’ . When I want to add a flash of bright yellow, I love to use Cupressus glabra ‘Aurea’, Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Lutea’ or C. pisifera ‘Golden Mop’. Of course each of these selections add their own unique texture and aromatic presence to the piece. Variegated conifers such as Juniperus chinensis ‘Torulosa Variegata’ or C. ob.‘Snowkist’ add a delightful zing as well. For a softer texture, Pinus strobus ‘Macopin’, P. s. ‘Louie’ and the variegated Pinus parviflora ‘Ogon Janome’ are delightful choices.

If you have never made your own wreath before, I want to encourage you to take the time. It is a very fun and relaxing (even meditative) project that yields tons of smiles and happiness in those who visit. I always make several and give a few away to neighbors and loved ones. It’s always fun to spread the cheer!

Yes, now that I have fresh new wreath-making ideas flowing, my back seems to hurt a little less and I seem to have a spring to my step that has been missing for several days. Thanks to the therapeutic power of conifers!

Ed-
Conifer Lover

Happy November!

happynovemeber-2016My goodness, how time has flown by this year! So much to do, so little time to complete it all. Sometimes I need to remember to sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful life I have all around me.

We are already in the fall of the year. Time has brought us round to where things seem to slow down (at least for a little while) if for no other reason than the old bones just move more slowly as cold temperatures and gray rains replace the warmth and life-giving spring and summer months.

I hope you are all enjoying what you can of the amazing transformation going on, as trees become a blaze of color, and leaves fall to cover the ground in colorful carpets. Soon, around my area, we’ll have many more hours of darkness than light and the light we do get will mostly be dimmed by the thick cover of clouds and rain. I look forward to the surprise, energizing days when the sun does manage to shine in the coming winter months and I can putter around out in the new, developing garden.

In the mean time, I’ll be considering all kinds of new conifers to include in my garden. When I come across something exciting, I’ll be sure to share it with you on these pages.

Stay warm!

Ed-
Conifer Lover

 

Slow and steady as she goes

This summer has been one of the most consistently wonderful weather-wise in my memory. I do have faint memories of when I was a young fella, swimming almost daily in our neighbor’s pool from at least early July through the Labor Day weekend – and that was way back in the early 1960s. I didn’t care much for the cold water of an unheated pool, so at least one summer, way back when, must have been similar to this year with day after day of sunny and warm weather.

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Even a small garden space has room for a path through beds filled with dwarf conifers and other exciting plants.

Our spring began on time this year and we have enjoyed bumper crops in our raised bed vegetable garden. I’ll even be harvesting a water melon soon (which is very rare in this area – at least for me)! With great crops of peas, beans, cucumbers, lettuce, basil and tomatoes, we have enjoyed heart-healthy eating all summer.

Our deck is alive with over 30 dwarf conifer and flower-filled containers. These warm summer evenings have been enjoyed snuggled with my beloved wife as we have listened to frogs, crickets and the occasional coyote serenade the otherwise quiet evenings, gazing at the stars or reading our books.

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A beautiful way to fill a corner with tons of color and excitement!

New construction of the larger garden has been very slow this season and I have achieved far less than I had hoped early on. But, life happens and I have found it to be much less stressful to go with the flow of what life presents to you rather than insist on being the one in control. Steadily working through the challenges as they arise, we have made some strides in achieving our garden transforming goals. Not rushing into some of my landscape projects has allowed me to get to know the property a little more and I have made adjustments to my original plans.

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Wouldn’t this be a great view right off your back patio or deck? Who needs lawn grass? It’s just something you have to mow and water all summer long!

In the meantime, we have enjoyed visiting other gardens and absorbed all kinds of ideas and inspiration to apply to our new garden space. Please enjoy these inspirational photos from the display gardens at Iseli Nursery!

Ed-
Conifer Lover