A beautifully unusual spring

With over 230 posts published on this blog, I need to review them once in a while so that I may make an effort to not talk about the same plant or general topic too frequently. One topic that has come up many times over the years is the long, cold and wet winter and spring seasons we normally have in this part of the Pacific Northwest.

Beautiful little cones seem to pop up randomly on the spreading, Abies koreana ‘Blauer Pfiff’.
Fresh new foliage of Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’ emerges with a hint of copper/bronze which fades to light green. Tiny flower cluster dangle below new leaves and slow transform into hairy, winged seeds.

Ever since the last week of March, we have had a very unusual spring. Although we have had plenty of rain, it hasn’t been the constant cold, gray downpour with rare and occasional sun-breaks. This spring we have enjoyed several warm and sunny days along with some cool and dry days which only included a brief shower or two. One of those days took me by surprise when the brief shower turned into a downpour of hail, but our hail is usually only about the size of a BB pellet, so it was just an annoyance and not a danger.

Incredible deep, rich, purple cones highlight the soft blue foliage of Picea englemanii ‘Fritsche’ in early spring. Soon, the fresh, bright blue foliage will emerge on this majestic, vigorous weeping tree.

Thanks to this great spring weather, I have been able to spend a tremendous amount of time in my garden. Here we are, in the later part of April, and I have most of my garden clean-up chores completed. I’ve planted several new dwarf conifers (some of which were mentioned a few posts back), I’ve prepared the raised beds of my dedicated veggie and herb garden, weeding is under control and perhaps what I am most excited about — the garden is coming alive with all the wonderful signs of spring!

My Japanese maples have exploded into full spring color; most of my cultivars within the Picea glauca family have a healthy start to their new push of foliage; cultivars of Cedrus deodara are pushing their bright new foliage tips; all of my pines are beginning to extend their new candle growth; and tiny colorful cones are beginning to emerge in this new season of the reproduction process. Even the first of my newly grafted plants is beginning to break bud!

After several years in a row of long, cold, wet, gray springs — which delayed plant growth by an additional week or two every consecutive year — it is very nice to enjoy a real spring-time season. But, keeping a sense of reality, this is the Pacific Northwest, so even though our spring is delightful, our area seems to always balance out, and I expect we may have a cooler, wetter summer — but who really knows — this is the weather I’m talking about!

I hope that wherever you are, springtime is near!

Conifer Lover

Please enjoy these additional photos by R.C.Smith, provided by my friends at Iseli Nursery!

An exhilarating week

Ever have a week when things take you totally by surprise? I did this week.

‘Pixie Dust’ [sport #1] update
The first big surprise came when I decided it was time to take a stroll through the gardens at Iseli Nursery. I was very curious about a new plant I described a few months ago, Picea glauca ‘Pixie Dust’ [sport #1]. I wondered if it had begun to push its new growth (my ‘Pixie Dust’ at home was one of the first in my garden to begin its spring flush). So, as I was walking down the path, past the lush soft new foliage on the Acer palmatum ‘Twombly’s Red Sentinel’ with its red color so deep that it is almost purple, I spotted the object of my desire. Wow! It was totally covered in its fresh light green new growth.

“I want one.”

Picea glauca 'Pixie Dust' Sport #1
Picea glauca ‘Pixie Dust’ Sport #1 in its full spring glory

My words spilled out softly and my mouth remained open as I gazed at the beautiful little tree and imagined how it would grow and shape itself over the coming years. Part of what excited me was the knowledge that this perfect little cone-shaped tree, like its parent, would produce a second flush of growth later in the season that would be near the golden color of butter.

I know it is years away from commercial production, but I want one.

Speaking of Japanese Maples
I mentioned the ‘Twombly’s Red Sentinel’ above, but I need to tell you that as I toured myself around the garden, it was far from the only Japanese Maple providing a beautiful show in the spring garden. I’ve said before that I look forward to the month of May when the majority of my conifers burst forth into their colorful glory. I’ve also mentioned that April is the month for Japanese Maples.

Acer palmatum 'Twombly's Red Sentinel'
Deep red leaves of Acer palmatum ‘Twombly’s Red Sentinel’

As I walked through the garden, I saw a full assortment of reds and orange and yellow and green, all soft and fresh and magically inspiring in me a great peace and contentment. One of the tremendous benefits of gardening is the impactful stress relieving qualities it can provide.

Acer palmatum 'Omuryama'
Delicate spring foliage and flower cluster of Acer palmatum ‘Omuryama’

Now that I was calm and feeling quite at peace, I turned a corner and discovered a mature specimen of  Abies cephalonica ‘Meyer’s Dwarf’ that was totally covered in bright red male pollen cones. I’ve observed this same dwarf conifer for many years and I have never seen it with a colorful display this intense! I was instantly transformed from my calm and serene state to complete exhilaration.

I think there is no cure for what I’ve got. I am a confirmed conifer lover.

Conifer Lover