Archive | 4 August 2012

Tea time?


The Amazing World of Conifers

I thought today would be one of those lazy days where I would enjoy my garden from my favorite chair near the woodstove. Cup of tea in hand and a few of my favorite conifer books by my side, my plan was to remain warm and dry while dreaming of new conifers and where I might plant them. The morning was going as planned until I began to feel a little restless.

First I noticed that my foot was keeping fast tempo to music that was not playing. I got out of my chair and walked over to my window and noticed that several of my Picea abies and P. glauca cultivars were definitely beginning to push their new bright green spring growth. I sat back down, but I couldn’t keep my mind off of going outside and playing with my conifers.

“It’s just too stinking cold outside” I told…

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Thinking is the best way to unravel


The Amazing World of Conifers

For the past several days, I have had the opportunity to sit, with little else to do than think (and cough and blow my nose). I learned long ago, perhaps when I was ten years old, that the common cold, though very uncomfortable, is an excellent time for thinking.

I’ve tried to spend time reading when I have a cold, but with the sinus congestion, headache and spontaneous eruptions of coughing and sneezing, I find it very difficult to concentrate on the tiny words printed on the pages of a book no matter how engaging its subject may be. Thinking, on the other hand, can drift and flow around the symptomatic distractions of the microscopic invaders causing my discomfort.

You are likely to have guessed that a great portion of my thinking time these past few days included gardening—conifer gardening in particular. One morning, my wife enticed me to join…

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Fanciful garden gems


The Amazing World of Conifers

I’ve just been digging through some catalogs both online and in print, and I am getting pumped up and ready to plant some new dwarf and miniature conifers in my garden. There is no doubt that I love the large and stately trees that fill our forests and parks, but my special love is for the dwarfs and miniatures. Honestly, what’s not to love about these delightfully small, low maintenance, colorful and hardy conifers?

A simple Patio Garden using dwarf conifers and other exciting plants.

My rock garden area is getting full, and the tiny plants that I intend to acquire will be too small for other open areas in my garden, so I am going to focus on containers for these fanciful little garden gems. Miniature conifers are perfect with the current trend in container and patio gardens. Once I decide whether I’d like a more formal looking patio garden using manufactured ceramic or terracotta pots, or a rustic look…

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Urban gardener


The Amazing World of Conifers

I had an opportunity to visit an old friend at his condo in the city. My friend loves conifers and has been collecting them longer than I have. As we were chatting, and I was getting a tour of the place, we arrived at his balcony; a small space approximately four feet wide by twelve feet long with a wonderful view overlooking the city. The first thing I noticed were the containers filled with dwarf and miniature conifers.

Container Garden

He had turned his small patio into a container garden full of color. Being the end of March, with very little sign of life in the city, his containers filled with green and yellow and blue conifers were a delight. As we sat with warm cups of tea, we talked about the good old days and the great ones yet to come. As the sun moved around from behind a neighboring building…

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In my own miniature world


The Amazing World of Conifers

When I am physically or mentally exhausted, I love to go into my special miniature world. When I’m there, the worries of this world melt away; there are no wars, no economic crisis, and no endless parade of political propaganda – just a peaceful garden where I am the king. In my miniature world, weeds (if they even sprout) are easily uprooted, plants receive the optimum water and sunlight conditions and I am able to spend time there consumed in the simple pleasure of marveling at the natural order of creation. I invite you to create your own miniature world, to enjoy as I do, its therapeutic qualities.

First, you’ll need a fairly good sized container. One of my favorites is hand-made out of materials easily found at your local home and garden store. I like hypertufa containers because they allow me to have a hand in the creation of…

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The pot lady


The Amazing World of Conifers

I took a trip to visit the pot lady. She sells absolutely the best pots in town. Her selection is quite varied and when considering the potential lifespan and quality of her pottery, they are a great value.

There really is nothing that can dress up and make the entry, patio or deck more inviting than a collection of premium plants in quality pots. My preference is to collect and plant dwarf and miniature conifers, but other slow growing, hardy plants can be used as companions. If one desires, and has the space large enough, intermediate or even large trees can be planted in some of the huge clay pots that are available today.

The pot lady told me that her pots are a much higher quality than the typical terra cotta pots we often find on the shelves of the big box store. Her pots can withstand much colder…

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Fairies and fighters


The Amazing World of Conifers

My wife and I recently had an opportunity to visit our favorite great-niece and great-nephew. They visited us nearly a year ago when they were five and seven years old. Both of them loved running around our garden, their active imaginations leading them in all kinds of adventures. I remember walking them down the initial paths, their eyes wide with curiosity, as they had their first experience in the conifer garden.

It took very little time for them to feel comfortable in exploring on their own, and in no time at all, as we sat on the patio sipping our iced tea, we could hear the sounds of their adventures. Our great-niece would tend to be the conversationalist, telling the story while interacting with the imaginary characters. Alternatively, our great-nephew would provide the sound effects. His jungle sounds and hurricane winds along with gunfire and explosions followed by the painful…

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The colorful winter garden


The Amazing World of Conifers

We have been enjoying a surprising number of mostly dry and partially sunny days the past several weeks with only the occasional instances of pouring rain. Along with these dryer winter days come colder temperatures, which I don’t mind since the colder the winter garden, the more intense the colors become in several of my conifers.

Anyone who has had the opportunity to acquire a Pinus contorta ‘Chief Joseph’ as certainly by now seen the super-bright yellow of his winter glow. I’ve mentioned in the past that ‘Chief Joseph’ tends to sit quietly in the background through the growing season, when other plants are taking center stage. This is the time of year when the Chief quietly steps forward and commands full attention of anyone within view. The intensity of his bright yellow color seems to grow stronger as winter gets colder. He’s shining very brightly in my garden right…

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Miniature conifers inspire big imaginations


The Amazing World of Conifers

I believe that my love of miniature gardening began in the late 1960s or early ’70s. Terrariums were reemerging as a popular and low-care way to enjoy houseplants. I checked out several books on the subject from the local library, some of which included lists of where plants and supplies could be obtained through the mail. I ordered a few catalogs and a whole new world of plants was revealed to me.

I remember planting my first terrarium, with its multi-layered soil which included fine crushed rock for drainage and horticultural or activated charcoal to keep the soil “sweet.” My desire was to create a self-contained miniature world in a bottle. I found that the empty, clear glass gallon jugs, that were readily available near the dumpsters of the local drinking establishment, worked quite well as the vessels for my new experiments.

When my first planting was complete, I found great…

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