The Latest Plants Louis Is Loving
The Best Season Ever: The Mature 'Vermont Gold' Norway Spruce
Fifteen years ago, this dwarf spruce was the size of a mango—and its needles weren't very golden. Seven years ago, it was the size of a baby watermelon—and its needles still weren't very bright. Welcoming it to the garden was an act of faith. True, planting any plant is an act of faith.
Seeing it now, why did I ever worry?
The Best Season Ever: Fastigiate Gold Yews
In a month when flowers are effortless and, even, omnipresent, I'm ducking floral OD by celebrating another June marvel: young foliage of fastigiate gold yews. Paradoxically, the year-round gold of popular bright cultivars of other conifers—arborvitae, cedars,junipers, spruces, and especially Hinoki cypresses—is so easy that it only dulls their appeal. Worse, the norm is for conifers in general to be constant in their presence: green—or whatever—24/7, 365 a year.
Conifers with ephemeral shows are the exceptions and, so, are all the more interesting. Eyecatching cones from fall into winter? Foliage that turns color when its cold—or, even, is shed entirely? Hooray for such colorful eccentrics. June is the month for conifers with flashy new growth. Today, columnar gold yews.
Pollarding the Golden Scots Elm
As usual, the foliar display of the golden Scots elm is so vigorous, so bright, that to call it exuberant or, even, eyepopping seems like understatement. This tree provides the most reliable season-long display of colorful foliage of any woody plant hardy colder than Zone 7.
But even after several years of growth since the last pollarding, the branches were still not mature enough to flower well. If I were to wait yet another year before pollarding again, the branches might be almost twenty feet long—and would then be dangerously uncontrollable as they fell to the ground during the pollarding. But without pollarding, this still-compact tree would transform into a free-range monster that would completely overwhelm its compact garden. Flowering or not, pollarding can't wait another season.
'Tokyo Tower' Fringetree
I had delayed welcoming fringetree to my garden because the straight species is often a wide ornamental tree, not a shrub. But this Tokyo Tower cultivar is a godsend for any garden already dense with beauties: It’s a slender column in adolescence, and may never grow wider than four to six feet.
Even I have room for a pair, flanking one of the garden’s crosswalks. Without concern over too-big maturity, I can concentrate on the tree's pristine, profuse spring flowers and, in time, striking upright habit.