Tea time?

I thought today would be one of those lazy days where I would enjoy my garden from my favorite chair near the woodstove. Cup of tea in hand and a few of my favorite conifer books by my side, my plan was to remain warm and dry while dreaming of new conifers and where I might plant them. The morning was going as planned until I began to feel a little restless.

First I noticed that my foot was keeping fast tempo to music that was not playing. I got out of my chair and walked over to my window and noticed that several of my Picea abies and P. glauca cultivars were definitely beginning to push their new bright green spring growth. I sat back down, but I couldn’t keep my mind off of going outside and playing with my conifers.

“It’s just too stinking cold outside” I told myself.

Maturing Container Garden
Dwarf and miniature conifers and companions maturing nicely in a high quality ceramic pot.

Then I remembered my recent purchase of a few of those cute little conifers in the four inch pots that I picked up last week when the weather was nice. I was at the opening day of one of my favorite garden centers. I like to pop in on the first day of the season just to get a peak at some of the new plants fresh from the growers. I had no intention to make a purchase, but those little conifers are so cute, and I can always use more mixed conifer containers on the patio.

Out I go to the potting shed with my big heavy coat, my new little conifers and a couple companion plants to see what I can come up with. My favorite pot lady had a great sale on her excellent ceramic pots a few weeks ago, so I was all set.

I had a great time – even if I was a little cold – placing my new plants with a couple decorative rocks in a nice earth-toned pot. I’m looking forward to the little surprise I will have for my wife when she returns home in an hour or two. In the meantime, now that I’ve spent some quality time in my miniature garden, I am feeling quite satisfied here next to the woodstove. Time to brew another cup of tea.

Conifer Lover

In my own miniature world

When I am physically or mentally exhausted, I love to go into my special miniature world. When I’m there, the worries of this world melt away; there are no wars, no economic crisis, and no endless parade of political propaganda – just a peaceful garden where I am the king. In my miniature world, weeds (if they even sprout) are easily uprooted, plants receive the optimum water and sunlight conditions and I am able to spend time there consumed in the simple pleasure of marveling at the natural order of creation. I invite you to create your own miniature world, to enjoy as I do, its therapeutic qualities.

Hypertufa troughs in the garden
Hypertufa troughs in the garden

First, you’ll need a fairly good sized container. One of my favorites is hand-made out of materials easily found at your local home and garden store. I like hypertufa containers because they allow me to have a hand in the creation of my miniature world from the very beginning. I’ve found a great resource for the construction of hypertufa containers here, and I think if you have the time, you should give it a try. Of course, any container that is good for growing plants will do – I’d look for one that is broader than tall.

Miniature conifers and companions
Miniature conifers and companions

My miniature world is dominated by conifers. Miniature conifers can easily be grown and trimmed, if desired, into tiny trees fashioned after their giant cousins. Left untrimmed, their own natural forms reveal fascinating shapes that make my mini-world a unique and delightful place to visit. I also love to include companion plants such as sempervivum, saxifrage and moss into my little world.

I usually begin with an upright grower as a focal point in my mini-garden. Then I choose tiny conifers that grow less than an inch per year of various colors and textures. Some of my favorites are the miniature Hinoki Cypress such as Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana’, C.o. ‘Golden Sprite’ or, C.o. ‘Ellie B’. I also love the Hemlocks, Tsuga canadensis ‘Minuta’, T.c. ‘Abbott’s Pygmy’ and T.c. ‘Horsford’. Very hardy selections of Spruce include, Picea glauca ‘Echiniformis’, P.g. ‘Pixie Dust’ and P. orientalis ‘Tom Thumb’. Finally, I’ll fill in spaces with interesting little rocks or drift wood.

Visit the American Conifer Society for an explaination of dwarf and miniature conifers and use their tools to discover other miniature conifers for your special little place.

If you are like me, you’ll love visiting your miniature world everyday – just remember to come back and pay your bills.

Conifer Lover

Thanks to Iseli for the photos!

Fanciful garden gems

I’ve just been digging through some catalogs both online and in print, and I am getting pumped up and ready to plant some new dwarf and miniature conifers in my garden. There is no doubt that I love the large and stately trees that fill our forests and parks, but my special love is for the dwarfs and miniatures. Honestly, what’s not to love about these delightfully small, low maintenance, colorful and hardy conifers?

A simple Patio Garden using dwarf conifers and other exciting plants.

My rock garden area is getting full, and the tiny plants that I intend to acquire will be too small for other open areas in my garden, so I am going to focus on containers for these fanciful little garden gems. Miniature conifers are perfect with the current trend in container and patio gardens. Once I decide whether I’d like a more formal looking patio garden using manufactured ceramic or terracotta pots, or a rustic look created with handmade hypertufa troughs, my next task will be deciding on which of the wonderful miniature conifers to include in the design.

Hypertufa trough garden using dwarf conifers and other miniature or creeping plants.

I’ve compiled a list of miniature or dwarf forms for my new containers. In a few years when some of the faster growing cultivars are getting too large, I’ll find a place for them in my garden. In the mean time, these little beauties will add a lot to my patio space.

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Butter Ball’
Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Cumulus’
Picea abies ‘Tompa’
Picea glauca ‘Pixie Dust’
Pinus leucodermis ‘Smidtii’
Pinus strobus ‘Sea Urchin’
Thuja occidentalis ‘Golden Tuffet’
Tsuga canadensis ‘Betty Rose’

Come on SPRING!

Conifer Lover

Thanks to Iseli Nursery for the photo links!