Spruce Trees

Friday, December 9th, 2011 by Jenny Watts
    • Holiday Amaryllis are easy to bring into bloom and they make lovely gifts.
    • Fragrant daphne is an early-blooming shrub that will delight you with its strongly scented blooms each spring. Plant it in well-drained soil.
    • Primroses and pansies will add color to your flower beds and containers all winter.
    • Feed the birds this winter and enjoy the pleasure of their company. Bird feeders come in many styles and make wonderful gifts.
    • Dogwood trees, flowering magnolias (or tulip trees), and Japanese maples are some of the balled and burlapped items you will find available now.

Spruce Up for Christmas

The holiday season is here and, for many of us, it’s time to choose a Christmas tree to be the center of light and warmth throughout the season. A living Christmas tree adds a special feeling to the Christmas season, and watching it grow throughout the year will bring you lots of pleasure.

Spruce trees are the most popular living Christmas trees. They are slow-growing and will live for several years in a container before they need to be planted in the ground.

Colorado spruce, Picea pungens, are the most popular. These sturdy, symmetrical evergreen trees are usually grown from seed, so they vary in color from green to blue green. Only a few turn out to be a steely blue. These are called Colorado Blue Spruce and command a higher price than their green brothers.

Allow plenty of room for this tree to spread out. Plant it at least 15 feet from a building, fences or walkways. It should never be controlled by pruning. Colorado spruce can be used in lawns, as an accent plant in large spaces or as a background tree with contrasting foliage color. They will grow in any type of soil but need good drainage.

A number of varieties are now propagated that have pronounced silver-blue needles. ‘Baby Blue Eyes’ is a slow-growing dwarf tree reaching 15 feet tall by 10 feet wide at maturity. It has light blue needles and a dense growth habit. ‘Fastigiata’ is unique in the spruce world. It has a tight, columnar shape, and intense blue color and grows to 20 feet tall by only 6 feet wide.

Dwarf Alberta spruce, Picea glauca ‘Conica’, is a compact, pyramidal tree growing six to ten feet tall at maturity. It has short, fine needles that are soft to touch, and bright green foliage that is attractive year-round. It is a good container plant and can be used as a Christmas tree for many years.

Alberta spruces are very hardy to cold but need protection from hot drying winds and from strong reflected sunlight, which will burn the foliage.

True Cedar trees are silvery blue in color. Deodar Cedars are soft and pendulous when young, and grow to be large graceful landscape trees. Atlas Cedars are more stiff with very blue needles. They are pyramidal in youth but more broad and picturesque when mature. Horstmann Blue Atlas Cedar is a semi-dwarf tree with densely-spaced icy-blue needles and an irregular outline. It is slow-growing and compact reaching 8 feet in 10 years.

A living Christmas tree should be placed in a well-lighted room for not more than two weeks. Water it regularly using ice cubes or cold water. Place it away from heater vents and never let it dry out. Miniature lights may be used.

Start a living tree tradition this year that you can enjoy for years to come.

Beautiful Conifers

Saturday, December 5th, 2009 by Jenny Watts
    • Choose living Christmas trees now. Most will be able to be kept in their containers and used for one or two more years as a Christmas tree. Water them every other day while indoors.
    • Clean up rose bushes by removing spent flowers and raking up old leaves, but wait until February for heavy pruning.
    • Primroses and pansies will add color to your flower beds and containers all winter.
    • Wild bird feeders will attract migrating birds so you can enjoy the pleasure of their company.
    • Fragrant daphne is an early blooming shrub that will delight you with its strongly scented blooms each spring. Plant it in well-drained soil.

Enjoy the beauty of conifers

Conifers, or cone bearing trees, make up the most valuable softwood forests of the world. They also include some of our most beautiful landscape trees. Pines, firs, spruces and cedars make fine backdrops for colorful deciduous trees and shrubs.

The true fir trees are not related to our Douglas fir, and are known by the name Abies. These trees typically have a formal and stately appearance when young, growing into impressive, majestic specimens.

The White Fir is native to the mountains of southern Oregon and California. It is an important timber tree and a popular Christmas tree as well. It’s bluish-green needles stand upright on the branches, and the cones may be dark purple or bright yellow-green.

The Noble Fir grows from northern California on up into Washington. It forms a tall and narrow pyramid with short, stiff branches and bluish-green needles that sweep upwards.

The Grand Fir grows near the Pacific coast from California to British Columbia. It is a grand and imposing tree with handsome, deep green needles that are fragrant when crushed.

Spruce trees make very fine ornamental trees. The Colorado Blue Spruce is well-known as a living Christmas tree. It has very stiff, horizontal branches which easily hold up the ornaments. Foliage varies in seedling trees from dark green through all shades of blue green to steel blue. It makes a fine landscape tree in our area, with branches that grow all the way to the ground.

Cedar is a name given to many different trees, like the Deodar Cedar and the native Incense Cedar. The Deodar Cedar makes a beautiful, large tree with silvery needles and openly spaced, graceful, upturned branches. The cones are very decorative and look like wood roses.

Incense Cedar is a dense, symmetrical tree with reddish brown bark. Its rich green foliage grows in flat sprays and gives off a pungent fragrance in warm weather.

There are three types of conifers known as redwoods: our native Coast Redwood trees, the Giant Sequoia, native to the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the Dawn Redwood, which comes from China. They are all beautiful large trees. The Dawn Redwood is unusual in that its lovely, light green foliage turns light bronze in autumn before it drops from the tree, remaining bare all winter.

Just as many shades of green make up an artist’s palette, many varieties of conifers can add year-round beauty to your property. This is an excellent time to choose and plant conifers.