Spring is a little late this year, but it’s finally beginning to show up around here in Georgia, Zone 7B. The bulbs from last fall are making an appearance.
Entrance to Brion Cemetery by Carlo Scarpa
The entryway represents the otherworldly architectural style of Carlo Scarpa, who used equally dramatic plant material to drape his concrete masterpiece (completed in 1978 before his accidental death). The Brion family founded Brionvega in 1945, an electronics manufacturing company. The cemetery is located at San Vito d’Altivole near Treviso, Italy.
Yes. One of my favorite conifers, and the perfect plant for Pi Day because its botanical name is Picea orientalis - and today we’re honoring the Pinophyta Division (conifers) of the Plant Kingdom, specifically, trees with botanical names that begin with “Pi” ~ like Picea.
WHOA. These Golden Oriental Spruces (Picea orientalis ‘Skylands’) are blowing my mind. Iseli Nursery never disappoints.
March 14th is Pi Day!
And to celebrate we are going to honor the Pinophyta Division (conifers) of the Plant Kingdom, specifically, trees with botanical names that begin with “Pi” ~ like Picea and Pinus.
Pinophytes are gymnosperms (seed-producing plants) that include conifers. The Latin word Coniferae means cone-bearing, or fruit-bearing of a conical shape. Conifers in the Pinophyta Division consist of cedar, fir, juniper, redwood, hemlock, spruce, yew, and pine, to name a few. Coniferous trees can be found on every continent in the world, except Antarctica (where they thrived during the Cretaceous period).
Conifers are evergreen and highly adaptable to very cold climates. Their needles “harden off” before winter temperatures plunge, making them resistant to freezing snow and ice. Their symmetrically-tapered shape and downward-sloping limbs allow them to shed snow in winter so that their branches do not break under the weight of accumulated snow. Isn’t it ironic that conifers no longer exist on Antarctica?
Pinophytes do not flower. Rather, conifers produce both male and female cones on the same tree. The female cone (ovulate cone) contains ovules which are fertilized by pollen-bearing cones (the males). Pollen is transferred to the female cone by wind and insect movement in the spring. While the pollen grains develop into seeds, the scales on the cone remain tightly closed to protect the maturing seeds. Once the seeds have matured, the scales on the cone begin to open and seeds fall to the ground, or are carried off by wind and insects. March 14th is just days before spring…the perfect time to celebrate Pinophytes.
Pictured above: a few “Pi” trees and their cones. Pinus and Picea are both classified in the Pinophyta Division of the Plant Kingdom.
Happy Pi Day! Celebrating the day with Pinophytes.
Strict weeping Alaskan cedars at The Oregon Garden. The eighty-acre garden includes a Conifer Garden (above), a Sensory Garden, Market Garden, and several others.
This lovely beast is a Weeping Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), picked up during one of my shopping trips to Iseli Nursery for a client a few years back. It arrived in a 36” wooden crate, and was very carefully installed between the hot tub and the pool. Its finely textured leaves and dense growth habit make it a unique focal point for an intimate, enclosed garden setting. This tree needs protection from afternoon sun, and is best utilized in a sheltered location here in Georgia, Zone 7B.
Picea abies ‘Frohburg’
During the winter I re-visit some of my favorite clients and their gardens, offering tips on pruning, watering, or fertilizing. I love to see how the trees and shrubs have settled into the landscape after they have been installed.
This is Picea abies ‘Frohburg,’ (Weeping Norway Spruce), best utilized as a specimen accent in the landscape. It must be staked upright, because the central leader also has a weeping tendency. Staking the tree allows it to gain some height before its elegantly descending branches swoop towards the ground.
Picea omorika ‘Pendula Bruns’ (Weeping Blue Spruce)
Talk about the perfect “vertical accent” for the garden….it would have to be this fine-textured conifer. ‘Pendula Bruns’ soars above its surroundings with artistic verve, and can hardly be overlooked as anything but extraordinary. It has a narrow upright growth habit with a strong central leader that points skyward, while its elegantly weeping branches flow downwards, surrounding the base of the tree like a ball gown. In spring, bright lime-green needles burst from the tips of the drooping branches, in stark contrast to the blue-green foliage. (This tree is from one of my landscape installations a couple of years ago, but like old friends, we visit often.)
In honor of Georgia Arbor Day (February 15, 2013), I’m featuring one of my favorite conifers: Picea orientalis ‘Skylands’ (Skylands Spruce)
I’ve been using this tree in the southeast for many years, and it remains one of my favorites. I first used it in a subdivision entrance in Braselton, Georgia. It was one of a number of specimen conifers I selected at Iseli Nursery in Boring, Oregon when I went on a buying trip to purchase plants for the subdivision. The trees caused a sensation, to the point where two of the six we installed were stolen in the dead of night within a week. Fortunately we purchased several extras for the project so we were able to replace the stolen trees, but this time we anchored the trees with rebar - using two 6’ lengths, driven at cross angles through the root systems. That seemed to do the trick, and the trees were allowed to mature unmolested in the landscape.
This Skylands Spruce is from a landscape located in Suwanee, Georgia, that I completed a couple of years ago. It is now loaded with cones, drooping from the branches like earrings on a golden gown.
One of my favorite conifer groups are those in the Yew family. Pictured: a Golden Yew for a new shade garden installation. These plants are deer proof, tough as nails once established, disease and bug resistant. Good soil and drainage are their only requirements.