Heirloom & Dwarf Conifers . . . Passed down
from one generation of collectors to another..
Click here to
sign up for our newsletter
Oct 8th 2011
Brown needles on
conifers. Many conifers
have brown needles now. This is natural and you should not worry. These brown
needles are usually interior needles. White pines for instance will drop some of
there interior growth now. Pinus parviflora's are also prone to browning now and
dropping some needles. As I look out my window at the conifer farm Pinus cembra,
Pinus sylvestris and Pinus nigra all have some browning.
May 28th 2011
Native Illinois conifers include jack pine, shortleaf pine, white pine, red
pine, northern white-cedar, eastern redcedar, baldcypress, and tamarack.
Baldcypress and eastern larch species are deciduous.
Unless you have sandy soils, jack, shortleaf, and red pine are
probably not going to fair very well.
If you want fast growing and native, then go the white pine route. Within 3-4
years of initial establishment the white pine will usually put on 2-3 feet of
height growth, annually. Add some diversity and avoid a monoculture by
interplanting some northern white-cedar (many different cultivars out there).
May 25th 2011
Many brown needles this spring in the nursery. It seems that the inner
needles turned brown and started to fall before the new needles pushed. I am
spending alot of time grooming this season. Can't wait for the spring growth to
flush out. Be careful not to pronounce brown trees dead to soon give trees
plenty of time to recover.
April 20th 2011
Its time to fertilize your conifers. I use a evergreen fertilizer that I buy
at a big box store.
Aug 30th 2010
Pinus virginiana 'Wates Golden' is golden in the winter and pale green in
the summer. Pinus sylvestris 'Aurea' is also golden in the winter. Pinus
densiflora 'Oculus draconis is has brilliant color in the summer. Our is almost
white right now.
July 3rd 2010 Gee Farms has updated
there 1 gallon grafts list online.
www.geefarms.com Gary Gee has been grafting for years. They have many hard
to find dwarf conifer grafts. If you can not go to Michigan. We will be glad to
get them for you.
July 3rd 2010 Conifer Society
Central Region meeting is being held in Waukesha, Wisconsin on July 16th and
17th. Visit www.conifersociety.org
Become a member and buy rare dwarf conifers at the auction.
June16th 2010 Hypertufa Troughs are
great looking things. We planted ours with shade tolerant dwarf conifers.
Chamaecyparis obtusa and Tsuga canadensis. We added a few trailing Ajuga plants
for color and to drape down the side. We found many UTube videos on how to make
April 22 2010 Conifer cleaning is a task
I do every year. The dead needles build up on some varieties near the
truck and make thick piles. I reach in with my gloved fingers and clear
out the piles. It makes the tree look better. In the Pinus nigra the
piles are very thick this year. The piles are a breading place for
unwelcome insects and rot. A clean conifer is a happy conifer.
Spring 2010! We still have a foot of snow on the
ground and in places the drifts are still 2 and 3 feet high. When the
snow melts everything is going to get a big drink f water. The nursery
has gone through its second winter with about the same outcome. The
conifers are doing fine. our pot in pot system is working well. My
favorite golden conifers have been stars all winter (Wates Golden and
Pinus sylvestris 'Aurea' ). There bright colors were a delight all
Sawflies are here!
are a unique group of defoliating insects!
Groupings In certain landscape
situations, a grouping of evergreens is ideal. Three, five, or more plants are
placed close together to create a small group. Arborvitae, especially American
arborvitae, can be used in the way, with plants of slightly different sizes to
provide a more natural appearance.
Evergreens, both needle and broadleaf,
make excellent screens of barriers. A screen is a solid mass of vegetation that
provides privacy from a busy street, hides views such as junkyards of the
neighbors dog pen, or simply provides and enclosure that offers sanctity from
Witch's brooms--abnormally dense growth on normal trees--have
been a source of many unusual dwarf conifers. These compact growths are
often genetically stable, and when cuttings are rooted or grafted they maintain
their compact growth habit. Some witch's brooms form cones, and the resulting
seedlings show various states of dwarfness.
Origins of Garden Evergreens
People are interested in unusual forms that deviate from the normal growth habit
and foliage color. When one of these appears spontaneously, gardeners often save
them . The new forms are grafted or rooted from cuttings to maintain their
characteristics. They are usually named and are sold by nurseries as cultivars.
Evergreens are trees and shrubs that
hold their foliage throughout the year. Evergreens are divided into two
large groups: needle and broadleaf. The shapes and sizes of evergreens vary
widely. They range
from ground covers with all kinds of mounds and domes to the typically pyramidal
or conical, columnar, and weeping upright forms. They may be only 6 inches high
or soar to more than 300 ft. Despite their name not all evergreens have green
foliage. they may be almost white, yellow, gray, blue, bluish green, light
green, or blackish green. Some species take on a bronze, purple or muddy
brown hue in winter.
Conifers for some shade
Dwarf cultivars of Abies balsamea 'Nana' , Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Nana Gracillis'.
Also dwarf forms of Canadian hemlock 'Albospica' and Gentsch White.
Spring Has Sprung
New growth is everywhere in the nursery. I am adding fertilizer to the pots. The
pond has thawed is one again resumed its job of attracting wild life. In a day
or so I will be able to remove the electric fence that has done a wonderful job
of keeping the deer at bay.
The white snow advances the colors of the conifers. They sit in contrast to it
displaying there assets. Birds fly endlessly in and out of their branches. We
have about a foot of snow on the ground. It has built up over many minor snow
waves. The pots in the nursery are neatly protected by the snow. Making the
trees look as if they have sprouted out of the snow. The deer have been so far
successfully deterred by the electric fence. Our only tracks are of a coyote
swerving in and out of the rows. The yellows of the likes of 'Wates Golden' have
blossomed and are intense. Our 'Chief Josef 'specimen is like a light in the
greenhouse. If you so not have any of the contrasting yellow specimens you are
missing a great show at this time. Nancy
Needle Fall on Conifers
My conifers needles have thinned out now. The needles that browned last month
have gracefully fallen to the ground making a lovely mat around my trees. Now
the conifers are less dense and ready for winter. I pet my trees to remove the
unwanted needles. It is a ritual that I go through each year. Sometimes I shake
the conifers too. The petting ritual helps to familiarize myself with the unique
structure of each different kind of conifer. I also rediscover that Picea
pungens are sharp...Firs are soft and some are full of sap that smells
I am receiving many emails and questions about planting conifers in the
fall. Yes plant them, plant them now. You will be delighted in the winter and
spring with the structure in your garden. The birds will benefit. The
conifer will provide places for birds to hide from predators and the fierce
winter weather. I am always delighted to see the birds fly in and out of the
coniferous shrubs and trees. They tend to perch at the edge of the branches just
long enough for you to indentify them. Remember to place your plants in a place
that you can see for the winter months. The conifers can provide wind breaks for
your other plants and even your house. Nancy
Fall colors in the Nursery
Today Oct 10th 2008 is the worst day for the worlds stock markets. But here
in the nursery you can forget about the economic situation for a few minutes at
a time. The colors here are beautiful. I have posted some
new fall pictures for
you to see. The prizes of the nursery seem to be Pinus virginiana 'Wates Golden'
and Pinus densiflora 'Oculus-draconis'. I am fortunate to be able to see two
examples from my office windows. As I walk around to each tree noticing its
unique characteristics I become aware of the changes in color. So much change
has come upon the nursery. The sun light highlights those unique characteristics
in a special way. If you do not have many conifers in your garden you are
missing the earths simple delights.
Trips to Oregon and Beyond
This Oct 2008 is the time of the year we will be traveling to our various
suppliers. To buy more beautiful conifers. We have found some new ones this year
but will still be using the old ones too. The temperature in Oregon is about
the same as here. So clothing is the same. It make traveling so easy. Our first
trip to buy trees was rout with uncertainty. We just did not have confidence to
go speak with all the professional tree people. It turns out we knew plenty and
now by the end of this year have enough confidence to go barreling forth again.
We are hoping to double our inventory by spring of 2009. The local wholesalers
of Ohio, Michigan and PA will also be on our list. We have found wonderful
specimens just a few miles form home. We are looking forward to this adventure
and are happy for a first successful year. Nancy
Watering at the conifer nursery
Our drip irrigation system was designed by Doug Foster of John Deere Landscaping
at Libertyville. There is a drip emitter in every pot or on every burlap ball.
The system pulls water from the pond and directs it to 12 different zones for
use. A computer with software allows us to incrementally portion water to
each of the zones as many or few times a day as is needed. The emitters
themselves have built in flow control so they allow a given amount of water
threw to the tree stakes. When I worked at Rich's Foxwillow Pines in Woodstock,
Il. I learned that it was a difficult task to try to keep many thousand of
plants watered without a comprehensive watering system. This season, I am
delighted to say, that threw drought and flooding the system allowed the
flexibility to water the conifers successfully.
Dwarf Conifers and conifer trees.
Dwarf conifers plants offer textures, colors, shapes, and sizes rare in the
landscaping world. Since they add visual interest throughout the winter, they're
excellent plants to use as accents and as components of major plantings. "Dwarf"
is a loosely defined word, so think of them as plants that grow slowly and act
as shrubs rather than as the tree species from which most are selected.
Vanessa's favorite plants. Ginkgo's
The Ginkgo's have such a prehistoric history the dinosaurs used to
eat them for lunch . Though we carry all grafted mail clones the females
certainly had there part in survival of the species They make for great accent
trees. The fan shaped leaves can be variegated and distorted in shape and size.
The golden fall color is unmistakable. They drop there leaves in one day so they
are convenient for those of us who have to rake.
Cultivars of Ginkgo's...'Chi-Chi' is a
compacted rounded habit a traditional shaped Ginkgo leaf and grows anywhere from
four to eight inches a year. It can be maintained as a small tree by judicious
'Saratoga' has an unusual wedge shaped leaf like
the end of a fish tail. It is again a small tree that grows 4" to 8" a
year. A truly unusual Ginkgo recognized exclusively by the leaf shape.
'Todd' also known as Todd's Witches broom is a dwarf rounded
Ginkgo. Todd's leaves are usually half the size of its traditional counter part.
Because it only grows 2" to 6" a year it makes for a great accent piece.
'Princeton Sentry' is an upright narrow Ginkgo covered in the
traditional fan shaped leaves. With a strong central leader and short lateral
branches it is the perfect tree for small spaces.
'Bernheim Broom' extremely dwarfy
Ginkgo with dainty little fan shaped leaves and
very short internodes (the growth space between leaf sets).
'Mutant Weeper' characterized by its completely mutated growth with
some pendulous and contorted branching. With very distorted leaves in he shape
of tubes, wedges, and strips. This plant even occasionally sends out a
'Sunstream' with a yellow and green
variegated leaf surly one of the most stable clones of the Ginkgo. Its a full
sized Ginkgo, so be ready for it to put on 8" to 12" of growth.
'Tubiformis' with its tube shaped leaves is a fairly fast
grower from 4" to 8" a year and it will be a large tree. Its is
clearly distinctive by it's rolled leaves.
Why we love dwarf conifers..
Not only do dwarf conifers smell good they also have lovely shapes and colors.
Dwarf conifers are extremely versatile, there are: weeping, fastigiate, and
wind swept specimens. I am
delighted by dwarf conifers of different colors for instance my favorite pine is a
Japanese White Pine called 'Gimborn's Ideal'. The short blue green needles have
pretty tuffs covering the branches. It has large beautiful pine cones and smooth
grey bark. The Japanese White Pines are a favorite of Bonsai enthusiast . 'Gimborn's Ideal'
does eventually become a large pine tree. So make sure you give it room to grow.
Planting and Watering Instructions:
Once you have decided where you are going to
plant your conifer tree, based on what the conifer tree requires and where JULIE has located
your underground wires, you can start digging the hole. The hole should be at
least twice the width of the root ball. The wider, the better when digging in
clay soils. For example: a 10 gallon pot is 20” wide, so the hole will be 40”
wide with 10” on either side of the root ball. The depth of the hole should be
shallower than the actual root ball so that the top of the root ball is above the
grade of the soil. This allows the upper roots to still be able to ‘breathe’.
The outer edge of the root ball also needs to be loosened before it is planted so
that the roots will start to expand outward into the soil. On especially
root-bound plants the roots can be cut with a pair of clean, sharp pruners or a
knife. Now that you have the hole dug and the roots loosened, you can gently
place the tree in the hole. Making sure that the conifer tree is straight and centered
in the hole is very important. Remember to only move the tree by the root ball,
NOT by the trunk. Begin to slowly add the original backfill and pack around the
root ball. Continue until the backfill gently slopes away from the top of the
root ball. Then apply a layer of mulch 2-4” thick around the tree, making sure
to keep the mulch from touching the trunk.
Then you can begin to gently water your conifer tree. This initial watering is crucial
for establishment of the tree. A complete watering schedule will include
watering the tree slowly to a saturation level every 2-4 days depending on the
weather. Obviously, if it rains more than an inch you may not have to water.
However, remember that with evergreens the needles do deflect rain and in a
light rain may not reach the rootball directly under the tree. Watering
directly on the root ball for the first year is imperative. If you continue to
water your trees the second year, only once a week, they will not just survive,
but they will flourish! As with most things ‘You get out what you put in.’
What’s wrong with that spruce?
We get that a lot around here, because at
Lake county Pines we think that the strange the conifer tree the better. Some of our
trees are a bright gold color and some of ours only push a pale yellow in the
spring. These spruce make up some of our favorite trees. Now don’t get us
wrong, we love the blue spruce, but only the bluest of the blue ones are worth
our time. The bright steely blue of the ‘Hoopsii’ with the extra long needles
really knock our socks off, and the dwarf counter part ‘St. Mary’s Broom’ is
perfect for a small spot in an already full garden that needs some blue color.
These spruce don’t stop there, the oriental spruce with the short dark green
needles cover every inch of every branch of the tree is spectacular. One
variety of the Picea orientalis is the ‘Aureovariegata’ and it pushes out the
most striking of soft yellow new growth every spring! This new growth does turn
to green eventually, but it has impeccable timing in the spring! As for the tree
that has everything, you definitely have to see the Serbian spruce. It has the
best of all worlds. It was needles that are green on top and silvery blue on
the bottom. So that when the branches weep down and the tips flip up you get to
see the blue and green contrasting together. So not only do you get spectacular
color from the needles you also get a dark royal purple from the cones that
appear every year! The dwarf cultivars of the Serbian spruce do not usually
have the cones but they make it a lot easier to admire the blue and green
needles as a small plant when nestled near your patio. There is always a place
for another spruce in my garden!
Weeping left, Weeping right, Weeping
Dwarf Conifers day and night!
There is misconception that conifers that
weep are sad, desperate, lonely, or depressed. These are just not true. As any
good tree-hugger will tell you, they are weeping with joy! A true inner
happiness that just embodies the energy of life. The best part about these
weeper is that they are truly unique, living pieces of art. No 2 are the same.
They are the fingerprints of the conifer world.
There are some weeping spruce that if not
stake upright will simply lay down and roll in the grass. There are others that
will take their own initiative and grow upwards, sideways and back again. There
are still others that only let their side branches weep, while the rest of them
are headed for the sky. Then there are trees that are completely
Those of us who speak tree, love the Lorax,
and are commonly found with our arms around trees – know that a tree that weeps
for joy, is a testament to life!
ABC’s of Dwarf
Always judged by their size.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Conifers can be very colorful.
If you keep these rules in mind, gardening
with dwarf conifers will at the very least be entertaining. So let’s start with
‘Always judged by their size’. This pertains to the fact that ‘Dwarf’ (contrary
to popular belief) means slow growing. These slow growing trees may someday be
large trees, probably not in our lifetime though. The Conifer Society has
created a growth rate chart that looks like this:
Miniature: less than 1” of growth annually
or less than 1’ in 10 years
Dwarf: 2”-6” growth annually or 3’-6’ in 10
Intermediate: 6”-12” growth annually or
6’-15’ in 10 years
Large: more than 12” annually or more than
15’ in 10 years
These size ranges make it much easier to
choose the right tree for the right place, and not the wrong tree for the
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder in all
things Dwarf Conifer. There is a conifer for everyone out there! Some are tall
and thin with extra large cones way out of proportion, and others with such
compact growth that you cannot even begin to see the trunk. There ones that
bend to one side and creep to the ground, only to decide that they want to reach
the sky the following year. My favorites are the ones that change color with
the seasons! Spring is green, summer is a green/yellow, fall is yellow/gold
color, and winter a covered in sunshine yellow! These trees will speak to your
Conifers can be more than just green, year
round screening. In fact, the real blue spruce can only be seen in the
blue/silver needles of the ‘Hoopsii’. There are such extreme colors to be found
in conifers you’ll hardy believe your eyes! The shining blue of the dwarf
conifer ‘Montgomery’, the contrast of the blue and green needles on the Serbian
and bicolor spruce, the outrageous yellow of ‘Chief Joseph’ in winter or the
‘Yellow Ribbon’ arborvitae all season. The ‘Motherlode’ juniper’s winter color
can only be described at mauve! The snowy white tips of the ‘Albospica’ hemlock
in the deep shade. These are only a sampling of the colors and combinations of
those colors found in conifers!
The ABC’s of Dwarf Conifers are as simple as
Allows Be Collecting!!
Lake County Pines Inc
29685 N. Fairfield Road
Grayslake, IL 60030