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
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.
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.
Quite often, when I am enthusiastically discussing conifers with my friends (whom I like to refer to as pre-conifer lovers), I will guide them to the realization that not all conifers are evergreen. This part of our conversation usually falls somewhere between, “Not all cones are pine cones.” and “Some conifers appear to have berries.”
Today, while doing a little mid-winter garden cleanup and protection from a possible snap of cold arctic air dropping over the PNW, I was admiring the unique winter beauty of my Weeping Larch. Perhaps I was influenced by the pleasantly hypnotic rhythms of Bob Marley playing on my mp3 player, but I noticed for the first time how much the exposed branches of Larix decidua ‘Pendula’ looked like beaded dreadlocks flowing in the winter breeze. Early in the spring those locks will burst forth with soft, light green needles covering the branches to give our “Rasta Tree” a full thick head of hair. The needles darken some as they mature through the summer and then blaze with bright golden yellow tones in autumn before they drop to the ground making a golden carpet beneath the tree.
I could stop there with my excitement about this great garden specimen, but I have not mentioned the versatility of this Weeping Larch. Imagine using this great tree as a tall centerpiece, a corner accent, or cascading over a wall. You might even choose to work with its very flexible branches to create a unique sculpture or topiary. Not only are the larch generally more tolerant of wet soil conditions than other conifers, but with zone 2 and 3 hardiness, many will thrive in cold areas as far north as Alaska.
With all these positive attributes, the larch certainly are another genera of conifer that satisfy my soul.
The first time I saw this conifer I was absolutely in love. Seriously. This is one of those fantastic trees that deserves a place in every garden and rates among the most hardy conifers around too! Heavy snow load? Ice storm? No problem!
Picea glauca ‘Pendula’ is a stunning, majestic beauty. The foliage is a dark grey-green giving this conifer a good solid appearance. This thing grows straight as an arrow and shoots up toward the sky while all its branches curve down, layer upon layer, creating a wonderfully tall and narrow spire. Many weeping conifers have very flexible branches that dangle loosely, hanging and drooping toward the ground, but P.g. ‘Pendula’s branches seem programed to turn and head for the ground in a very purposed manner. Its form reminds me of my favorite local waterfall, Multnomah Falls in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. This is one of those trees that as much as I try to describe it, I don’t think I’ll ever do it justice. Even when photographed, it never seems as impressive to me as standing next to one well placed in a garden!
I’d love have the space to plant a long row of these around the border of my property to create a tall living castle wall!