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Spring Color in Conifers (3 Replies)

Posted March 19, 2014 at 8:40 pm

It’s the last day of winter and I’m trying to ‘think spring’ but here in Maine that’s not easy. In some parts of the country, however, the perennial people are already talking about the riot of flower color that is starting to hit their gardens.

Conifer folks are more restrained but we are known to be blinded by color too. It just happens to us in more subtle ways like the push of new growth and the emergence of young cones.

My current favorite harbinger of spring is a Norway spruce that goes by the name ‘Acrocona.’ (Picea abies ‘Acrocona’) It is named Acrocona (“acro” meaning “at the end”) because of its unusual habit of producing most of its cones at the end of the new growth. (This picture shows some of last years cones holding on, a nice contrast.)

In some parts of the country its purple-red cones show up around Easter time and they are a Passion Play all their own.

What conifer species/cultivars’ new growth interest you? (Be sure to post a photo or two.)

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Posted March 20, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Sean, you have hit on one of my favorite subjects! I love all the incredible details of springtime in the conifer world. If you don’t mind, I will share a few photos of tiny, early spring cones that may go unnoticed by the majority of gardeners. I love spring cone-hunting season and ever since I became interested in photography back in 2000, and discovered the power of macro photography, I have been capturing images of cones.

One of my favorites is the young developing female cone of Abies forrestii var. forrestii. I love the deep purple color and the unique long thin “tendrills” that seem to be reaching out to grasp any unsuspecting pollen that might float by.

Another favorite is the female cone of Abies koreana ‘Blauer Pfiff’. I especially love the gradient of color during this early stage of development.

It is hard to resist the beautiful purple colors of the female cone of Abies koreana ‘Green Carpet’!

But I am not a sexist, I find that male pollen cones can be quite attractive as well. For example, I love the contrast of color of these young cones against the dark green foliage of Abies numidica.

The male cones of Abies procera ‘Glauca’ (prostrate form) are a beautiful color as well. And just look at the detail of the foliage which has just broken free of the tight bud stage!

The male cones of Picea orientalis ‘Skylands‘ are a real favorite! They almost look like tasty little berries nestled in with the tiny yellow needles of this grand tree.

So much color! Who needs annuals and perennials?

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Posted March 31, 2014 at 9:19 am

Fabulous photos!

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Posted April 7, 2014 at 2:58 pm

Spring is definitely arriving! Here are a few new shots of emerging conifer color and interest.

The new, emerging female cone of Pseudotsuga menziesii ‘Graceful Grace’ adds a bit a spring color.

Young, bright yellow-green female cones of Abies balsamea ‘Tyler Blue’ are open and ready to receive pollen.

Male pollen cones on Abies balsamea ‘Tyler Blue’ have begun to distribute their pollen.

Intense color of the male cones on Abies alba ‘Green Spiral’ attract attention.

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