Lacebark pine

The other night, over dinner with some gardening friends, I mentioned my search for a beautiful tree to replace a dead dogwood. I'd just been wowed by a lacebark pine (Pinus bungeana) at Chanticleer, and before I could get the whole name out of my mouth, almost in unison they shouted, "THAT IS A FANTASTIC TREE!" I'd never heard of it but obviously, they had. True: This is a fantastic tree, though it does have some problems. It sometimes splits apart in snow and ice, which wouldn't be good at all if it's going to be a show piece in my garden. Supposedly these pines are sensitive to pollution. Rats. That won't do at all in an urban location like mine, though it's great for Buddhist temples, where these trees are often found. Once again, they're very slow-growers. And wouldn't it be nice to find a tree like this that's native, instead of coming from Asia, as so many do?

But lacebark pines are truly gorgeous. They're a rounded pyramid shape, with several trunks and chalky, patchy bark horticulturists like to call "showy." If all this wasn't enough to steal my heart, the needles finished the job. They're about four inches long, very fine but thickly covering the tree. You just wanted to run your hands over them. Some oohs and ahhs around the dinner table will have to do.