Snow in the valley!

Although our summer arrived quite late, it was lovely, but it does seem as though we had our final day of phenomenal summer-like weather this past Saturday. The high temperature was a little over 80°, the sky was crystal clear in a beautiful gradient of deep, rich blue to soft blue tones near the horizon. There was a slight breeze making the warmth generating daytime chores very comfortable.

Suspecting that we were nearing the end of our dry, outdoor chore weather, we both concentrated on getting as much done in the garden as we could. I had already managed to plant all of my new plant acquisitions, so I didn’t get to dig in the dirt – well, that’s not true – I spent a good hour or two digging out a wheelbarrow load or two of weeds from my newly created/expanded beds. While doing so, I noticed plenty of nice big earthworms doing their jobs aerating the soil and creating their valuable compost in the process. I am disappointed that I was not able to lay a nice thick layer of mulch this year. I definitely need to make that a budget priority next year!

Pinus parviflora 'Tanima no yuki'
Like snow on the valley floor, Pinus parviflora ‘Tanima no yuki’ appears as if it has been dusted with wintry precipitation.

Along with the several new conifers I planted this year, I also included several new Lavender plants. You might remember last spring I talked about Lavender being a great companion plant for my conifers. Both my wife and I have enjoyed their calming perfume and pretty little flowers. The bees have been happy and busily working their new discovery this summer. As thrilled as I am with my new collection of Lavender, I am even more excited about some of my new conifers.

Pinus parviflora 'Tanima no yuki' - Spring candle
The spring candle push of ‘Tanima no yuki’ is variegated green and white with bright pink highlights.

One of my most prized finds this year as been Pinus parviflora ‘Tanima no yuki’. This little Japanese white pine is a very slow grower within the Dwarf growth rate scale created by the American Conifer Society. The new plant I acquired had put on about two inches of new growth this year. Established plants that I have seen will grow up to three or four inches of new growth, but in a very irregular fashion, creating a small mound with slightly twisted foliage. One of the great features of this new conifer is its variegated foliage.

Pinus parviflora 'Tanima no yuki' - summer foliage
The maturing summer foliage Pinus parviflora ‘Tanima no yuki’ is soft and fluffy with white variegation.

When ‘Tanima no yuki’ begins to push its new growth in spring, the candles are a combination of bright pink, green and white. These candles seem to push later than other dwarf Japanese white pines and take even longer for the needles to begin to unfurl and extend outward giving the plant its full, fuzzy appearance. When the needles lengthen and expose themselves, they will have a varying amount of whitish variegation, giving the whole plant a look as if it has been dusted with snow – which incidentally is what the Japanese name translates to: Snow in the Valley.

Hopefully we will have some dry weather and a few days of warmer temperatures before the real rainy season sets in. Although, as winter arrives, we’ll enjoy the year-round beauty of our conifer garden through the large windows while seated in our favorite chairs, sipping warm cups of tea near the wood stove.

Conifer Lover