A few of my favorite northern hardy conifers

ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)November 22, 2011

Here are a few of my favorite conifers. I have been purchasing very small plants because they are less expensive since I have 20 acres with about 2 or 3 acres in gardens. I'm going to eventually (at a slow pace) turn all my perennial gardens into conifer gardens so that I don't have all the spring clean up and I can sit and enjoy my gardens a little.

This is my Abies veitchii 'Glauca' I really love this conifer. If I remember right it has some beautiful red cones on it that really contrasted nicely with the blue/green color of the tree.

Picea abies 'Frohburg'

Pinus flexilis 'Elliot'

Pinus strobus 'Louie' showing off it's fall gold coloring. This is a beautiful conifer that always gets a fair number of compliments from visitors.

Have you ever purchased a plant solely for the name? I purchased this one for the name as well as the blue coloring. This is Picea pungens 'Otto Bismark'.

I also like Abies balsamea 'Tyler's Blue'.

I better quit for now. I don't want to bog the post down so much that it takes too long to open.

I would love to hear what your favorite conifers are. Do you guys have a hard time getting your plants started? I seem to really struggle with that. I generally have to cover all newly planted conifers for the first 3 years for sure during the winter months. The brutal winds will dry out the needles and kill my plants. I am getting more of a windbreak around our country home now so things seem to be doing so much better.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone.

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'Otto Bismark' is a fantastic handle, looks to be a vigorous spreader.

Your pictures are immaculate.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 8:19PM
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Thanks for sharing, great looking plants! Please do feel free to share as many as you would like. I always enjoy seeing what what more established ones look like before purchasing. I may have to put louie on the top of my list, I've always passed that one up and looked at other gold conifers. Probably just because the suppliers photos don't resemble anything close to what you have!

I've purchased a lot this year based on the name, but I also like the way they look as well. 'Teeny', 'Spring Blast', 'Angel Falls', Just to name a few.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 8:20PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Thank's for the pix. Looks like you're off to a good start. Speaking of starts, yes, the first year or two is always the toughest for conifers. Is it my imagination or does your 'Otto Bismark' look like a battleship? Have I ever bought a plant by name alone? Not exactly, although my Abies concolor 'Piggelmee' comes close, but I still liked the form.


    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 8:25PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Keep the photo's coming (it took maybe 3 seconds to load this post)!

You have a long long long way to go with 20 acres!

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 8:51PM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

Ah, you guys are so kind. I've been so nervous to post to this particular forum because I'm not very knowledgeable with my conifers as I am my perennials and I feel a bit out of my element even though I have quite a few of them. I'm still very much in trial and error as to what grows up here. Thank you all for making me feel so welcome.

Here are a few more of my conifers I adore.

I LOVE the pines. I think what attracts me to them the most is the very intricate color combination of green, blue and white. So beautiful. These are particularly hard to start up here and often times I cover them for longer than 3 years here.
Here is Pinus strobus 'Macopin'

Pinus parviflora 'Adcock's Dwarf'

Picea omorika 'Guenter'

Pinus sylvestris 'Little Ann'

Pinus monticola 'Snow White' I would love to have the 7 dwarfs too. Need to work on getting those. Do any of you have the 7 dwarfs?

It is so fun sitting in my warm house looking through all my photos.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 9:31PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

'Guenter' is really neat. Thanks for the pics from the great frozen north!

They look good. Do you do anything special with the snow loads?

Don't think I have ever bought one just because of the name. Bismark is a good one though and lol at the battleship comment.

They will get me for sure soon as I find a picea englandiii 'warspite'!

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 9:54PM
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Beautiful specimens! All meticulously cared for.

The 7 dwarfs are all virtually identical Pinus aristata brooms. Any expert I've talked to about them doesn't see the point in collecting the set. I'm sure Jerry Morris would take exception since he's the guy who found them.


    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 9:56PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

With your acreage, learn to give them room. For instance, that Pinus strobus 'Macopin' may be a bit close to the foundation. See the link below.

I must say, you have a good eye for conifers. With that much room I'd certainly work in some straight species.


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 9:58PM
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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)


Your quote: "I've been so nervous to post to this particular forum because I'm not very knowledgeable'"

You don't need to nervous with that collection.

I started here...knew nothing and had nothing.

I still don't know anything but enjoy posting my conifers and enjoying what others are growing.

I have a feeling you have more to show us.

Might as well go ahead.

Feel free to get engaged and be apart of this forum.


    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 10:07PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I feel the same as Dave. Welcome.
In your part of the world, I'd be looking at windbreaks.
As many as you need. A good windbreak or two will open up a lot of possibilities as to what you can grow.
Looks like you're doing real well so far.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 11:38PM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)


I lost my Abies veitchii 'Glauca' graft during this summer's brutal drought and heat (here). I'd like to ask for a few 3 scions if I may!

Kindly, I thank you in advance.


    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 9:05AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

nervous .. smervus... this is one heck of a post to start with ... we will get you up to speed fast enough ...

i had a lot of luck with tiny oaks.. in a rose cone with the top cut off ... and i leave the cone there for years ... no winter wind.. no accumulated heat with no top ... would work just fine with most small grafts ... and no bunny damage ....

my Otto B .. eventually turned into a regular upright pungens... but for the great blue color.. it is not a spreader ... as far as i know ...


    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 3:54PM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

Thank you all for the nice comments. Dax, please send me an email and I will be more than happy to send you cuttings from my Abies veitchii 'Glauca'. I won't send any cuttings until maybe the end of January. Will that work for you?

Dax, quite awhile ago you used to have some videos on grafting but I don't see them available anymore. Do you still have them out on Youtube?

Dave, I've been fortunate to have a few friends that have conifer gardens in Iowa. I have been visiting them and they take me to all the neat conifer nurseries and take me around to conifer gardens in the area. I've had a lot of fun and picked up some neat plants in Iowa. Trust me...there are no unusual conifers to be found in ND.

I will be going to Washington and Oregon either this year or next. Most likely next year, I will need to REALLY investigate all the neat conifer gardens, nurseries and arboretums and spend my entire vacation touring all the places. I can hardly wait. I will definitely be saving a mother load of money so that I can bring back a lot of conifers. I have a large want list and hope I can find some on my lists while there.

I do agree that I need more upright narrow cultivars. I did have some but the wind and heavy snow wreaks havoc on them. I do believe I have enough windbreak now that I could try some upright varieties again. I currently have Juniperus scopulorum 'Skyrocket' and Juniperus scopulorum 'Medora'. But I agree that I am lacking in the upright columnar category. Any good suggestions that will do well this far north?

Come spring I will be reworking another garden bed area into a conifer bed. I will move out my perennials and then prepare the soil. When you guys prepare your beds do you go through all this? I add a thick layer of compost, manure and wood chips and then I layer the same things again and again until I have a very nice mound of very rich soil. I will then add rocks in strategic places and buy more conifers to stick into the bed.

Is there a better method or material I should be using in my conifer beds?

Here are some of my gardens that I will eventually be converting to conifer gardens.

This is the garden I will be converting to a conifer garden this spring. I'm going to have a hard time getting rid of my perennials as I'm so addicted to gardening and the beautiful fragrance my flowers provide as well as beauty is going to really be tough on me. But, as I'm getting older, I find I want to spend more time sitting on my deck or in the gardens with my friends and not always doing back breaking garden work every day to make things look nice and not have to be embarrassed when friends visit.

This spring I would also like to add more conifers around my pond. I think that would lend a little bit of mystery rather than seeing the entire pond at once strategically placing conifers so that when they mature you have to walk through the path to see the entire pond. I will not build up any soil just plant them in the rocks you see in the photo. Ideas on what might look spectacular around the pond but not take too much away from the pond? I'm sure I will find plants in my travels this summer. ha ha. I can't wait.

Please if any of you have any suggestions for me...don't hesitate to mention them.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 8:41PM
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Great place you have ladylotus, the pond landcape is especially very attractive!

If you don't already have it, here's one to strongly consider ... Pinus contorta 'Taylor's Sunburst'


    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 9:28PM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

Tor...I'm sorry I forgot to answer your question. Yes, I do have to really work hard to ensure my plants are covered well so the snow does not break off the branches. Once they are 4 or 5 years old they are on their own for the winters. But I do use the large rose cones and even boxes when I run out of the rose cones. Then I place a brick or rock on the cone/box to hold it down so it does not blow away.

I have a few tall narrow junipers that I wrap in burlap as I want them to get some size on them and try to keep the branches from breaking off in the snow.

My biggest problem is our winds. They dry my plants out terribly. But it seems once I get the plant into it's 4th or 5th year they can tolerate the winds.

Do you have problems with snow load and wind in your area?

Terrance, your Taylor Sunburst is beautiful and I MUST add it to my wish list. Thank you so much for sharing your photos. Your plant looks so healthy with such vibrant color in the new growth. Love it!!!

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 9:44PM
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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)


Here's one if you like yellow/gold for winter color.

Of course it might be a non-starter if under snow all winter.

Reverts back to green late spring.

I can do a few more tomorrow.


Pinus mugo 'Zundert' taken today.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 10:44PM
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I have enjoyed taking in the views of your conifers and existing gardens.
I wish you success as you make the changes.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 2:43AM
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blue_yew(Z9 Devon UK)


I like the Abies veitchii 'Glauca' a very rare tree
can you take a close up of the foliage thanks.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 4:21AM
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Fantastic gardens!
Here's a columnar juniper that might be worth looking into, the J. scopulorum 'Woodward'. It seems to handle snow load very well.

Juniperus scopulorum 'Woodward' at Cheyenne Botanic Garden

Juniperus scopulorum 'Woodward' at High Plains Arboretum
(with deer browse)

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 6:29AM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

Hi Lady, anytime is fine, January/Feb. works. I will email you my address.

A few more upright conifers:
Juniperus virginiana 'Taylor'
Juniperus virginiana 'Blue Arrow'
Thuja occidentalis 'Malonyana' and 'Malonyana Aurea' and 'Degroot's Spire'

I have three videos on youtube. Simply go there and search for: coniferblacklab

Thank you,

P.s. Where in the world did you find A.veitchii 'Glauca'? Mine was a 3-year twig I grafted and planted at a prominent place near my home. It's one of my favorites.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 8:31AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Abies veitchii 'Glauca' is pretty easy to attain BUT at a price.

You can go to Lake County Pines and get a 3 gallon pot for $90. Buchholz also carries it but I don't see it on their availability list right now.

I've been eyeing it up for awhile but too expensive for me right now. 2 year grafts go for a cool $45.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 8:42AM
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ladylotus, your Picea omorika should read 'Gunther' not Geuter. Got there before Edwin!!
How long have you been growing Pinus parviflora 'Adcocks Dwarf' in North Dakota? It isn't hardy here in Iowa.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 9:22AM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

Dave, thank you for the photo of Pinus mugo 'Zundert' I think it is beautiful and Punus mugo is very hardy here. I am adding to my wish list. It sure does have nice gold coloring.

Richard, thank you for your words of encouragement. I hope it looks nice. I hope I can sneak in a few of my favorite perennials too. I just don't want it to look out of place with a large flower and a small conifer. I will have to work on that.

Blue yew, your wish is my command. LOL. I went out this morning and took a couple photos of the needles. Here they are:

Sluice, Juniperus scopulorum 'Woodward' is gorgeous and would be PERFECT by my pond. I should be able to grow on cuttings of that. I will have to see if a few of my friends has that plant so I can nab some cuttings from them. Thank you for sharing the photos.

Dax, thank you for the list of upright conifers. I will look them up and see if I can find some this spring.

My Abies veitchii 'Glauca' is about 11 years old. I purchased it as a small plant from Bob & Dianne Fincham with Coenosium gardens. They send some nice plants. The only problem is the cost of shipping is OUTRAGEOUS.

Waas, you are right the Abies veitchii 'Glauca' even though I purchased the smallest plant they had for sale was still rather expensive.

Dennis, thank you for the name correction. I will make a note of that. I've had my Pinus parviflora Adcocks Dwarf for about 5 years. I was going to try wintering this year without protection but I'm a little worried now by your comment. I am growing another Pinus Parviflora called Ibo-can for about eight year and the past 3 winters it has been uncovered and doing well. However, we have had an abundance of snow and it has been completely covered with snow the past 3 winters. Gosh they are such beautiful conifers. I hope they don't die out on me.

I've had troubles with that happening. I tried 2 Pseudotsuga menziesii 'Graceful Grace' and each of them have slowly died on me after I took off the winter protection. It seemed each winter a branch would turn brown/crispy and soon the entire plant died.

I will keep you posted on how my parvifloras do.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 9:52PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Pinus parviflora 'Adcock's Dwarf' is easily hardy to zone 4. Isn't it one of the more hardy parvs?

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 10:48PM
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