Anticipation keeps me waiting

After one of the mildest first two months of a new year, today our temperature is dropping to more winter-like crispness. Snow levels are dropping and we may even see sloppy wet snow mixed with rain at our elevation.  As much as I have enjoyed an early start to my garden chores, I am hopeful that the colder weather will extend my garden’s plant dormancy a little longer. If my Larix or Acers begin to push their tender new growth too early, they will very likely get hit with a spring-time frost that is typical in our area. On the other hand, I am in great anticipation for the onslaught of color that is coming soon to my conifer garden!

Pinus contorta 'Taylor's Sunburst'
Good things come to those who wait, and the spring foliage of 'Taylor's Sunburst' is definately worth waiting for.

I am extremely enthusiastic about one conifer in particular. Pinus contorta ‘Taylor’s Sunburst’ is an amazing tree that will pick up where ‘Chief Joseph’ leaves off. I’ve shared my excitement about the good Chief in the past and I’ve described how tired he can become at the end of his winter show. Within weeks, ‘Taylor’s Sunburst’ literally bursts into its glory as it begins to extend its spring candles of brilliant golden yellow. As the candles continue to extend and the needles expand, the color becomes a little less gold and takes on a tone as if a little cream were added to the mix. This creamy yellow color becomes very prominent against the dark green older foliage that was the sunburst of springs gone by. Place ‘Taylor’s Sunburst’ near other dark green or blue conifers for a spectacular color display. Throw a deep red Japanese Maple into the mix and you will find it difficult to pull your eyes away from this special space in your garden.

Pinus contorta 'Taylor's Sunburst'
'Taylor's Sunburst' adds a lot of interest to the garden

Discovered in the Rocky Mountains, high in Colorado, ‘Taylor’s Sunburst’ is a hardy Lodge Pole Pine that requires a well drained soil. Generally an upright growing intermediate sized tree, it can become somewhat irregular in form. I like the rugged, mountain grown look it can provide. With a little careful pruning and candle pinching, it can become a manageable, compact pyramid of spring gold. As summer approaches with its longer days and warmer temperatures, ‘Taylor’s Sunburst’ kicks up its chlorophyll production and its foliage becomes greener – possibly a natural defense against the sun scalding the more tender yellow foliage. Through fall and winter, this tree steps out of the spotlight in time for ‘Chief Joseph’ to shine bright.

I anticipate a beautiful spring garden and I hope you will experience the joy a conifer garden can provide.

Conifer Lover

Weeping for the falls

Just about a year ago I featured a great new weeping white pine; one of
the 2009 Collectors Conifer of the Year plants made available through the
American Conifer Society. Pinus strobus ‘Niagara Falls’ is a wonderful
new selection with slower growth than the well known Pinus strobus
‘Pendula’. I’ve had people ask me if P.s.‘Niagara Falls’ is something they
should bother with if they already have a P.s. ‘Pendula’ in their collection.
For me, the answer is simple. If you have enough room in your garden, YES!

Pinus strobus ‘Pendula’ is a grand specimen that, like many weeping
conifers and depending on culture, may grow as a low, sprawling,
magnificent ground cover or a tall undulating specimen reaching out this
way and that. A fast grower, ‘Pendula’ will have long, exposed, silvery gray
branches that curve and add character and interest while its long needles
add softness as they sway like fine textured blades of grass in the
summer breeze.

Pinus strobus 'Pendula'
Pinus strobus ‘Pendula’ with growth three times as long as ‘Niagara Falls’ will often expose its silvery gray bare branches

With its slower growth, ‘Niagara Falls’ will appear to be a more fully
clothed plant with a similar but different effect in the garden. The shorter
annual growth allows its foliage to more effectively cover its branches as it
(again depending on culture) will mound and sprawl, occasionally sending
up a dominant leader which eventually flops over and continues to build its
unique character. The denseness of the foliage gives ‘Niagara Falls’ a
more coarse and full appearance, when compared with ‘Pendula’, and as
it sprawls in the garden amongst the rockery or over a wall, it surely does
bring to mind the grand waterfall of its namesake.

Pinus strobus 'Niagara Falls'
A young ‘Niagara Falls’ begins to show some character.

In smaller gardens, where space is limited, ‘Niagara Falls’ could be a very
desirable alternative to the larger, more open growing ‘Pendula’. In
gardens with plenty of space, I would definitely grow both of these
excellent forms of the weeping white pine to enjoy their unique
contributions to the landscape.