Abies balsamea 'Renswoude' / Renswoude Balsam fir

Abies balsamea 'Renswoude' is a fairly recent introduction from The Netherlands. It is a special ball-shaped dwarf selection of Balsam fir with needles that are slightly lighter green than those of the species. Typical annual growth in most areas is a bit more than 1 inch (2.5 cm), producing a 10 to 15 inch (25 - 40 cm) congested, round plant after 10 years. This a great choice for use in a rock garden or small home garden as it will likely never outgrow its given space. Abies balsamea cultivars are notorious for their dislike of heat and drought so a recommended siting is in well-drained, moisture-retentive soil, shielded from hot afternoon sun.

This cultivar originated in 1995 as a witch's broom found by Mr. G.V. Brenk of Barneveld, The Netherlands on a specimen or Abies balsamea ‘Nana.’ He discovered the broom while maintaining a garden in a place called Renswoude, hence the cultivar name. He dug out the whole plant and brought it to nurseryman Piet Vergeldt in Lottum, who planted it in his garden where it remains today. Of course, he started to propagate the broom, and the first plants were sold in 1997 to some collectors to try. Now those plants look very healthy and are developing nicely. (History courtesy of Ronald Vermeulen in an article written for Conifer Quarterly, Spring 2003.)

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Abies balsamea 'Renswoude' from the Jiri Balatka collection, Všejany, Czech Republic, courtesy of conifertreasury.org.
Photo by Jiri Balatka and Zsolt Mesterházy
Abies balsamea 'Renswoude' — a closeup of foliage detail.
Photo by Bill Barger
Abies balsamea 'Renswoude' — a mature specimen.
Photo by Bill Barger

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