Santa and the Sester Dwarf

I know it seems early, but really, we are into the 2nd week of November. Thanksgiving is just two weeks away and Christmas – well, it’s coming quickly – and chances are, your family enjoys doing some kind of festive decorating for the holiday season. I know mine does.

A few posts back I mentioned that I was making an attempt to encourage my wife to miniaturize our holiday decorating to some degree. I talked about creating some winter themed container plantings which featured dwarf and miniature conifers. As I began to work on some of those new plantings, I realized how perfect these kinds of decorations would be for my urban friends living in apartments or condos. Most all of them have at least a small patio or balcony where they enjoy potted plants throughout the warmer season. Why not utilize those same pots that are now filled with spent annuals and perennials and fill them with holiday themed plants featuring conifers?

Picea pungens 'Sester Dwarf'
An ideal living Christmas tree, Picea pungens ‘Sester Dwarf’ looks great in a premium clay pot.

Some plantings could be larger and remain just outside the sliding glass door that leads out to the patio or balcony. Other smaller (and therefore more portable) containers could be brought indoors during the day to be enjoyed by the family and guests, and then be set back outside to prevent the plants from thinking spring had arrived early and begin to break dormancy. This same technique could be modified for folks desiring to enjoy a living Christmas tree this year.

In a past post I discussed methods of keeping a living Christmas tree in good health so that it can be planted in the garden following the holidays. Another option is to simply leave your featured tree for the holidays in a container and enjoy it on the patio or deck all year long. This seems to make great sense for the urban dwellers with limited space, both indoors or out.

Picea pungens ‘Sester Dwarf’ is an ideal selection for holiday decorating. This compact, symmetrical, Christmas-tree-shaped dwarf conifer has a pleasant, soft blue color to its foliage and looks good from sizes, small to large. It is definitely one dwarf conifer that I will be using this year for some of the new containers I am planting for our front walkway. Being a slow-growing conifer, ‘Sester Dwarf’ will be very well behaved in a quality container for a number of years. Then, one might either plant it in the garden or simply move it into a larger container to be enjoyed as your decorating heart desires.

Some additional great choices for containerized, living Christmas trees include:

Picea pungens ‘Fat Albert’
Picea glauca ‘Conica’
Picea glauca ‘Jean’s Dilly’
Pinus mugo ‘Tannenbaum’
Pinus helrichi leucodermis ‘Compact Gem’
Pinus helrichi leucodermis ‘Irish Bell’

It’s not too early to begin to make your plans for a successful season of holiday decorating!

Conifer Lover

Federal coneheads

“Hey Ed! Did you see that one of the largest and most popular branches of the federal government have become coneheads?”

“Pardon me?”

“Yeah Ed, apparently the United States government has gone conehead!” laughed my friend. “You’ve got to check out their website.”

The conversation continued like this for a little while before I was able to get my friend to tell me exactly what he was talking about. As it turns out (and maybe many of you are already aware of this) one of the new Holiday designs for the United States Postal Service this year is a collection of four artist’s renderings featuring conifers.

I checked out the USPS website and found that they have holiday conifer stamps and other products available. The stamps feature nicely drawn details of the foliage and cones (or in the case of the Juniper, its berry-like structures). They also have very nicely produced postcards prestamped and with information about each conifer. I was very excited and impressed when I saw what they had to offer.

My wife and I were just talking a few days ago about our need to purchase more stamps for our holiday greeting cards this year. I hope she sees these great conifer stamps. Since they are Forever stamps, I think we should stock up now – then we’ll have plenty of conifer themed stamps to last us a very long time.

Check out the link above and you’ll find four conifers featured in the set including; Abies balsamea (Balsam Fir), Juniperus virginiana (Eastern Red Cedar), Picea pungens (Colorado Spruce) and Pinus ponderosa (Ponderosa Pine).

Happy Holidays!

Conifer Lover

Christmas in September?

I don’t know if it is the sudden return to near winter type weather or what, but I’ve been thinking about the upcoming holidays. Can you believe that it’s just eleven weeks until Thanksgiving? I can – it feels quite a lot like November around here today. With the dark gray sky and constant drizzle, the sun doesn’t have a chance to warm things up today. I’m sitting near my woodstove, wondering if I’ve ever been tempted to light a fire this “early in the season” before –  it’s still summer!

As I sit here, trying to talk myself into believing that the sun will burn away these clouds and I’ll actually warm up this afternoon, my mind has been drifting to thoughts of Christmas trees and the wonderful wintery scent of conifers and cinnamon and peppermint. The winter holidays always bring a smile to my face and warmth to my heart, so why not imagine what my wife might like for her indoor decorating this year?

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m more of a harvest my tree in the wild kind of guy while my wife prefers things to appear neat and tidy with a proper sense of order. I’m thinking about a tree that I’d like to find for my garden, but would make a great containerized live tree for our holidays. I’ll need to convince my wife that it will be a fun new tradition to set up and decorate our tree just a day or two before Christmas so that the live tree will have the best chance of survival after our holiday fun.

Pinus leucodermis 'Compact Gem'
‘Compact Gem’ – The perfect symmetrical Christmas Tree

Pinus leucodermis (heldrichi) ‘Compact Gem’ is the perfect tree to fit my wife’s expectations of tidiness while providing an abundance of wonderful holiday perfume for my pleasure. There’s just nothing like the scent of fresh conifer greens in the dead of winter to lift ones spirits.

‘Compact Gem’ is one of the nicest, most compact, neat and tidy, perfectly shaped pines available. Its green color is rich and bright – even in winter – so that it will bring cheer to both the landscape and the winter holiday indoor decorations. Its branches are spaced enough to allow ornaments to hang and yet dense enough to hide the wires of the lights you might like to string around the tree.

In the landscape, ‘Compact Gem’ makes a stately specimen with perfect symmetrical form. Hardy to -20 degrees Fahrenheit, even my friends in Zone 5 will be able to enjoy this one. If you need a hardy, somewhat formal looking screen, ‘Compact Gem’ should work well growing up to 12” per year while keeping its compact tidy appearance.

Yes, ‘Compact Gem’ is the tree for me this year. If I were you, I’d get to my favorite garden center early and have them special order one. Then I’d let them hang on to it as long as possible before bringing it home. Check out my list of suggestions for a successful live Christmas tree experience in my past blog, “Weal kwissmas twees” while I cross my fingers and hope for a return to at least a couple more weeks of summer.

Conifer Lover