Monday, December 27, 2010

Weekly Plant Spotlight

Pinyon Pine (Pinus edulis)
The smell of pinyon pine needles has been described as “Christmas,” and it certainly has a distinct piney aroma. Commonly found through much of western United States, this tree has been torn out by many ranchers to clear their ranges for cattle and has often been used as a Christmas tree in south and central Utah. Pinyon pines are very tough trees and, once established, can survive on natural rainfall alone. They were a source of pine nuts for Native Americans, but ours have rarely produced pine nuts in our garden. Only reaching 30 feet in height (over decades), this small pine tree is an excellent choice for urban landscapes, especially dry ones.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Weekly Plant Spotlight

Turkish Cedar (Cedrus libani var. stenocoma)
Closely related to the cedar of Lebanon, the Turkish cedar is smaller than its cousin, but may still reach up to 40 feet. Tufts of bluish-green needles grow along the length of its branches which modestly cover the trunk and gracefully sweep the surface of the ground. Although the branching is often spaced irregularly, it does provide it with a picturesque appearance, which really means it can have an unusual form. However, unusual forms make this evergreen work well as a focal point or a specimen tree. Unfortunately, our Turkish cedars were temporarily removed due to construction. Although the attached picture isn't from our garden, it shows a beautifully mature Turkish cedar.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Weekly Plant Spotlight

Arizona Cypress (Cupressus arizonica)
This Southwestern native has often been thought to prefer warmer climates than the Wasatch Front, but we have been growing ours for 10 years and it has grown fine, maybe a little too fine for the spot it was planted. Its gray-green foliage and conical form make it a striking specimen tree and many have been used as Christmas trees in its native habitat. It requires little water once established and can reach up to 30 or 40 feet. Some varieties being sold recently are much smaller, topping out at closer to 20 feet.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Weekly Plant Spotlight

Black Hills Spruce (Picea glauca ‘Densata’)
As the holidays approach, it seems appropriate to highlight some excellent evergreen trees that may also be used as Christmas trees. Black Hills spruce is native to the Black Hills region of South Dakota. Its conical shape, smaller size (20-30 feet tall) and brighter needles distinguish it from the other white spruces and make it a very desirable landscape tree. Once established, it is a very care-free tree and requires little attention. Ours was threatened during recent construction but, due to the efforts of one of our gardeners, it was saved (I stopped her just short of having herself chained to the tree). Despite construction happening all around it, and the loss of a significant portion of its roots, it survived quite admirably.