Falling in Love Again

I recently visited Oregon Small Trees, the destination of the June Random Acts of Gardening nursery tour (you have until June 15 to register for the tour). Not surprisingly—because it happens every time I visit—I fell in love with several of his dwarf and compact conifers. Impulsively I made a purchase, and practiced restraint by only bringing two home.

This was the first time I’d seen Larix kaempferi ‘Wolterdingen,’ a dwarf, fluffy form of Larch. Mine was “born” in 2008 and is about 12 inches tall. Iseli Nursery’s Web site describes it this way:

A compact, spreading Japanese Larch, this attractive plant provides exceptional seasonal interest for tight landscapes and rock gardens. In early spring, soft, new, blue-green needles emerge and continue to decorate the delicate mound through the growing season. In fall, needles change to rich yellow before they fall to show off ornamental, reddish brown branches with scales reminiscent of an armadillo’s armor. Discovered in a park in Wolterdingen, Germany in 1970, by G. Horstmann.

I loved the way the branches seem to spiral around the trunk. Now I just need to find the perfect spot for it.

The second conifer that now needs a home in my garden is Abies lasiocarpa arizonica ‘Glauca Compacta,’ a mouthful for a beautiful blue, soft-needled fir (common name: Dwarf Blue Alpine Fir). I’ve admired this conifer for more than a year and purchased two as gifts for other people. I thought it was time for my garden to be adorned with its blueness. This fir was first “stuck” in a pot at Oregon Small Trees in 2003 and is under three feet tall and about 18 inches wide. It’s very huggable if you enjoy close interactions with plants, which of course, I do. It should top out around eight feet, but will take awhile to get to that size.

Once in the ground, I’ll have to figure out what companion plants will complement these new additions to my garden. To help with that, I plan to attend a Joy Creek Nursery workshop with Don Howse, a conifer expert and owner of Porterhowse Farms and Arboretum . (You absolutely should visit the Arboretum…and take a picnic. It’s a beautiful spot.) The June 13 class is titled “Dwarf Conifers and Their Companions” and should be very helpful. To learn more about Joy Creek’s extensive seminar offerings, visit their Web site.

What plants have you fallen in love with this year?