U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8a. Sunset climate zone 5

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Garden of the Conifer Collector. Part 2

Continuation. First part is here: Garden of the Conifer Collector. Part 1.

It would be more correct to call both posts 'Garden of the Conifer and Maple Collector'.
 There were some beautiful maples shown in the first post, and there are more pictures below.

Again, I will let William, himself, comment on the photographs.


Part of the heavy-shade garden with some hostas from the growing hosta collection.


James King, a local Hosta hybridizer, was my inspiration for collecting hostas.
Tatyana did a wonderful write-up and photoshoot of his gardens last spring (Enchanted Garden Of A Hosta Hybridizer ) and I was stricken with hosta mania.
The sheer amount of colors, textures and beauty offered by hostas are a welcomed addition to any shade garden.

 My love for Japanese maples was reinforced by their many seasonal appeals. While many trees have great fall color, many varieties of Japanese maples produce riveting colors throughout the growing season. Above maple (Acer shirasawanum 'Autumn Moon') has strong orange/red/gold hues by late spring.

A color not often seen in trees, this Japanese maple has tremendously bright shades of shrimp pink variegated with darker purple spots and waves. Acer palmatum 'Shirazz', a very new and extremely popular new cultivar is as colorful as many flowering shrubs, and this color lasts throughout the growing season (6+ months or more). Even better, the color and variegation changes as the seasons progress, a true 3-season wonder.

Another Japanese maple with beautiful variegation is Acer palmatum 'Beni Schischihenge'. Strong pinks and oranges cover some or all of many leaves mixed with white and light green. Rarely are two leaves the same.

 The shrimp pinks of a newly leafed out Japanese maple (Acer palmatum 'Shin Deshojo'). Whereas many maples are a duller purple-red, Shin Deshojo has very bright red/pink colors and will maintain strong red overtones all the way until the leaves drop.

 Japanese maples can also be selected for size. This extreme example (Acer palmatum 'Hupp's Dwarf'), grows a few inches a year with pink-tipped new foliage. This tree is about 7-8 years old and has received NO pruning or training. It measures about ten inches tall and 15 inches wide.

 Two weeping conifers here have been trained together. The green/gold form is Picea abies 'Gold Drift' while the blue weeper is Picea pungens 'The Blues'. Trained upright over the years, they will be allowed to drape over each other and provide considerable color contrast.

 More color contrasts here as a prostrate variety of Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens 'Aubie's Spreader) is set off by a purple dwarf barberry (Berberis vulgaris 'Crimson Pygmy').

Another contrasting garden plant, this Dwarf upright Japanese white pine (Pinus parviflora 'Blue Lou') grows in a narrow column of deep blue and is graced each spring by hundreds of purple pollen cones.

Cones, the 'flowers' of conifers. Though not very present quite yet in my young garden, many dwarf conifer cultivars produce stunningly beautiful cones, and at an early age. Some are bright red, others are dark blue and purple. Something to look forward to with age as dwarf conifers all get better and better with age.

 Conifers too can have exciting colors not frequently associated with dull plants from big-box stores. This Colorado spruce specimen (Picea pungens 'Gebelle's Golden Spring') pushes out the brightest gold colors possible from the tips, contrasting strongly with the blue-green older foliage. This color show is almost jarring and can last for six to eight weeks.

 A fanatical collector, I have a sizable collection of conifers and plants in pots on the decks. Since many conifers grow very slowly, large pots can house these trees for a decade or more.

 Cedrus deodara. Cedars. To most gardeners this name conjures up images of giant conifers towering and shading out their garden until it gets blown over and damages the house ten years later. Like many conifers, however, cedars have dwarf cultivars as well, better suited for garden design. This little charmer (Cedrus deodara 'Silver Mist') grows 3-4 inches a year into a graceful, spreading mound with silvery-white new growth. It even tolerates some shade.

 A maple medley.

 Contrast again in the garden (King 5's Cisco says contrast IS the key). A purple smoke bush casts a dark foreground to a brilliant-gold maple (Acer platanoides 'Princeton Gold').

  Stones. Lots of them. Huge rocks. All of the labor in my garden, including moving those behemoths around was done by hand or with a wheelbarrow. A garden project is always more rewarding if you do as much of it as you can by yourself.

 Stakes. A necessary, if unattractive part of the young garden. Many conifers are very tolerant of staking/training and this artform is one slowly learned through trial and error. Bonsai masters aren't born, they are sculpted over time.

  Hydrangeas, another featured plant type goes bonkers beneath the only Japanese maple that came with the house. They thrive in the shade here and welcome visitors with dozens of flowers in summer.

  Look closer. Shade-loving groundcovers, bright gold oak-leaf hydrangeas, hostas and other perennials hide behind the larger hydrangeas.


 A dwarf conifer easily recommended for any garden. This turquoise-blue beauty (Picea engelmannii 'Compacta') grows slowly and the new branches weep gently from the original branches. This specimen is over ten years old.

Gold, bright, healthy and long lasting. This large, narrow semi-weeping deodara cedar(Cedrus deodara 'Gold Cone') produces glowing new growth that splashes downward in sprays as with most cedars. Eventually this will become a big tree, but until that day, the beauty it provides will be more than worth the trouble.

The center island, as most visitors behold it, from the driveway.

It bursts with activity. Colors, textures, different shapes, a birdbath all squeezed into a small place. It's too busy for many eyes, but the creator of this garden is anything but subtle.

Our native Douglas firs provide a dark backdrop that really shows off the various colors in the landscape, in particular these Japanese maples.


Thank you William for leading us through your garden and thank you my readers for touring this remarkable place with us. I hope you enjoyed the tour and got some ideas for your own gardens. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to include them in your comments, and I'll direct them to Will.
Photographs by TatyanaS, commentary by William.

***Copyright 2011 TatyanaS


  1. AnonymousJune 11, 2011

    Your miniature evergreens have given me an idea for a newly empty spot in the garden. And I loved the long views in so many shots. It gave a wonderful feeling of what your garden is like.

  2. Patricia, thank you! WILLIAM's garden gave me several ideas too!

  3. I'm sad that this tour is over. It has been a wonderful visit! I love conifers and maples. I only wish we could grow Japanese maples in zone 3b!!

  4. This is truly amazing! I don't know how I missed the first installment but I did catch up with it. I will definitely bookmark both of these posts for future in depth perusal... Thank you so much for sharing! Larry

  5. AnonymousJune 11, 2011

    I too enjoyed the tour very much. I much respect the conifers and this is a remarkable collection. I too relish in the new growth. You must have enjoyed photographing this garden immensely, Tatyana. And it is a lot to photograph. Tell Will how much his landscape was enjoyed.

  6. Wow! What a beautiful garden. The maples and conifers are outstanding. The setting is fabulous. Please give my compliments to William. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Seeing those plants in their wonderful splendour make me a bit depressed thinking they will succumb again in a few months to winter, i feel sorry for those which will suffer next and lost their lovely charm!

  8. As I scrolled through I thought, 'oh, I like that' and then, 'oh, I like that' and on and on. What a great collection of conifers! I am especially fond of Deodora Cedars...the two you shared are very cool. Don't think I have ever seen those here in my area.

  9. Stunning collection' I love the conifers and all the japanese maples. There are so many specimens to admire! The "Silver Mist' deodar cedar especially interests me.

  10. Hello, Tatyana!
    Wonderful garden views ... such great plants. This is a fantastic garden!

  11. Two great posts, Tatyana. Seeing a massive collection of conifers like this makes is apparent how different the colors and needles of conifers are per species and how they add texture and movement to the garden. Also a lovely collection of maples.

  12. T - I really don't have words to convey the awe I have for William's garden. I am really inspired to try and incorporate some dwarf varieties into future garden remodeling plans. But, oh..were to get them? Recommendations by William?

  13. What a remarkable collection, I enjoyed both parts of the tour so much. Great posts!!

  14. Oh..great post!
    I love every single plant!
    Have a nice week!

  15. Thanks for sharing the tour with us. You are so right about the appeal of conifers and maples in the garden. They add texture and interest and yours are very lovely.

  16. Great photos! I'm impressed by the work put into this garden. Very lovely!

  17. Amazing collection--and the perfect climate for these plants. I loved seeing them. Thank you!

  18. Tatyana, what a beautiful garden and pictures. My favourite conifer is Cedrus Deodara. As for the Japanese Acers, they are all magnificent.

  19. William F.June 15, 2011

    I'd be glad to help direct anyone who was interested to sources for specific plants or trees they were interested in. Some are hard to find then others but I'll help however I can. I am on vacation now in the Redwoods but I'd be glad to answer them when I get back. You can email me directly or you can send them to Tatyana if that's easier for you. I was very glad and honored to have Tatyana visit my gardens and do this fine article. I'm glad folks are enjoying the photos of my unusual gardens.


  20. Almost overwhelming amazing. Love those two conifers trained around each other. And I've always loved deodora cedars. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing, to you both.

  21. Wow, that's just amazing. I only wish some of these incredible conifers were more readily available at nurseries. I'd love to add some of these to my garden but I prefer to buy bigger plants if possible so I don't have to wait 10 years to really enjoy them and so many mail order nurseries are not able to send plants of much size. I'll be standing by for some sources from William though!

  22. Incredible tour, thanks! Very well arranged collection too - each compliments the other!


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