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And the Winners Are…

Schwerin Pine ‘Wiethorst’ and Korean Fir ‘Icebreaker.’ These two unique conifer cultivars have been chosen the 2014 Collectors Conifer of the Year as announced by Dennis Lee, the CCOY chairman.

Pinus x schwerinii ‘Wiethorst’
Pinus x schwerinii ‘Wiethorst’ photographed in the Steinhardt garden, Mt. Kisco, NY, during the 2013 National Meeting.

Photo by Sean Callahan


Limited numbers of these specimens are now available to active ACS members and will be shipped direct to the member’s address by the growers this spring. (Shipping dates will vary according to the destination’s USDA Zone hardiness.) Each plant will arrive with an anodized aluminum tag with its holder identifying it as the 2014 CCOY. This is the ninth season of the program with proceeds going to the ACS Scholarship Fund.

Pinus x schwerinii ‘Wiethorst’ is an interspecies hybrid of the Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) and the Himalayan white pine (Pinus wallichiana) first discovered near Berlin in 1905 on the estate of the von Schwerin family but its parentage wasn’t determined and formally recognized until 1931. This dwarf cultivar was discovered as a witches’ broom by Johann Wieting of Giesselhorst, Germany, in 1987 who created the name by combining his family name and the place where he found it.

The Schwerin Pine combines the characteristic long graceful leaf of wallachiana with the superior cold hardiness of the strobus. More compact than the hybrid, this cultivar is considered one of the most elegant long leaf pines to be found in the cooler climes of North America and has only lately begun to be propagated by growers here.

'Kohouts Icebreaker' at Glacier's End Arboretum in Olympia, WA. It's beginning to grow a leader but should develop into a small, squatty, conical tree.
‘Kohouts Icebreaker’ at Glacier’s End Arboretum in Olympia, WA. It’s beginning to grow a leader but should develop into a small, squatty, conical tree.

Photo by David Olszyk

Abies koreana ‘Kohouts Icebreaker’ (sometimes called  ‘Icebreaker’ in the trade) is a slow-growing miniature cultivar originally found as a witches’ broom on the widely-known ‘Horstmanns Silberlocke‘ by Jörg Kohout of Prietitz, Germany, in his nursery in 1998. Like its parent, its curling needles show their silver undersides but because it’s a tight, round ball, ‘Icebreaker’ provides a more intense silver-white effect in the garden.

Both plants are available now to active ACS members on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. (Those wishing to join ACS to qualify, click here.) The downloadbable order form and additional information on these selections is available by clicking the “Order Form for 2014” link at the bottom of the Collectors Conifer of the Year page.


10 comments to “And the Winners Are…

  1. David Olszyk commented

    The correct name for the second plant is Abies koreana ‘Kohout’s Icebreaker’ with ‘Icebreaker’ being the name commonly seen in the trade. Jörg wanted his name attached to the plant. Further, ‘Silberlocke’ is correctly named ‘Horstmann’s Silberlocke.’ The shortened name was brought about by the nursery trade and shouldn’t be accepted as legitimate.

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  2. David Olszyk commented

    Just trying to help. Thanks, brother. I hope Dennis gets the tags right. That would be a huge embarrassment. BTW, thanks for using a picture of my plant.

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  3. Sean Callahan commented

    Since we announced the selection of ‘Icebreaker’ there has been a spirited discussion of just what the plant should look like. If you have experience with this rare, new selection, please share your thoughts here.

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  4. sandyhorn commented

    Will this pine be happy in the piedmont of North Carolina? What about the fir? I have two other Abies koreanas which seem to be doing fine after two full years in my garden, so should I expect this variety (Kahout’s Icebreaker) to do well, too?

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  5. Tom Cox commented

    Sandy, Pinus x schwerinii ‘Wiethorst’ is a great plant and will make a wonderful adddition to your garden. It will thrive in the Piedmont. I would give it at least 3/4 of a day full sun. If you have some options, I would prefer it in some light shade after 2:00 pm. As for firs (Abies), the only fir that will prosper in the Piedmont is Abies firma (momi fir). As virtually all fir cultivars such as ‘Kohout’s Icebreaker’ are grafted, you will want to ensure that your’s is grafted onto A. firma. The only way to be assured of this is to purchase from a grower that uses this understock. All this to say, be sure and ask and if they don’t know then the chances are it’s on the wrong rootstock. Everything I mention here is in my book, “Landscaping With Conifers and Ginkgo for the Southeast.” Good luck and thanks for asking.

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  6. sandyhorn commented

    Tom, thank you so much for this information. I could find very little on ‘Wiethorst.’ And thank you so much for your book. I’ve been using it with great pleasure, ever since it came out, last year. Absolutely indispensable for those of us who garden in the South.

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  7. Tom Cox commented

    you are most welcome anytime. Will we have the pleasure of seeing you at the national meeting?

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  8. Tom Cox commented

    Sandy, I want to add one more comment. We have been growing Abies koreana, nordmannia and homolepis quite successfully. These are all species vs. cvs. and overtime will get large. They are all from wild collected origin and are of course on their own roots. Since most gardens don’t have the space for large growing species, they choose cvs, We have been sent a number of plants such as A. nordmannia ‘Golden Spreader’ on different rootstocks such as those mentioned above and none lived longer than 3 years. We have yet to loose one on firma. The take away is that you are better off w/ firma understock and if you have space and can find species, they are worth trying — just stay away from any species native to the western U.S.

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