Picea orientalis ‘Skylands’ is a robust symmetrical upright selection of Oriental spruce with tiered branching holding fantastic golden needles held tightly against the stem. Older, interior foliage is more of a typical deep green. The contrast is striking. In spring, the display is amplified with the emergence or cherry red pollen and seed cones. ‘Skylands’ is truly an exceptional plant.
When young, plants critically need shelter from intense sun until roots completely develop. In fact, immature specimens burn so badly that many “give up” on them. Gardeners have been known to erect sun shelters to protect their young trees from the sun. Once mature, the plants are quite tolerant of full sun.
After 10 years of growth, a mature specimen will measure 12 to 15 feet (4 – 5 m) tall and 5 feet (1.6 m) wide, an annual growth rate of 12 to 18 inches (30 – 45 cm).
This cultivar was “found” in 1950, growing at random at Skylands Gardens, part of the New Jersey Botanical Gardens at Ringwood, New Jersey now known as Ringwood State Park. Over the years it has been a seed parent for many of the dwarf Picea orientalis in the trade. In the past it was sometimes seen listed under the cultivar name, ‘Aurea Compacta.’ However, ‘Skylands’ has become so popular over time that this is not likely ever the case today.