Planting time

With winter on the way, it's a bit counterintuitive, but this is a great time to plant trees and perennials. And just our luck, it coincides with the desire of garden centers to clear out whatever's left from the 2008 season. However cool the air may be around here in November, the soil remains warm and welcoming to burgeoning roots for another few weeks. A few years ago we planted two sugar maples in the first week of December. Today they thrive.

So, over the weekend, I went trolling for a conifer for my garden to replace a dying dogwood. I'm looking for something striking, as this will be in the viewfinder as you walk into the garden. I want it to be special, and able to survive next to a huge elm tree. The spot gets a lot of sun, thanks to the wonders of modern pruning of huge elm trees, and some partial sun.


People have suggested a holly, and as pretty as some of these are, I said no. Japanese umbrella tree was another idea. Beautiful tree, but such a slow-grower ...

Yesterday at the garden center I came upon a Pinus nigra 'Oregon Green' about five feet tall. This Oregon selection of the Austrian black pine is full and dense, a nice pyramid shape, with stiff, dark green needles. It can reach 10 feet in 10 years, which ain't too shabby, 18 to 20 feet at maturity, with a width of 15 feet. Sounds perfect for the spot I have in mind. A big plus: Birds love to nest inside its soft needles. Who wouldn't?

I plan to look around some more but 'Oregon Green' looks pretty good at the moment.

Bear in mind that fall-planted trees and shrubs need extra attention to ensure that good roots are established. This means you need to water regularly, until the ground is frozen, even if whatever you've planted has lost its leaves. We've had good rains lately, including overnight last night. (Wish we'd had some of this last summer!) Once the soil's cold, you might add a couple inches of mulch or compost for extra protection.

Meanwhile, my search continues. But look at this photo. What a gorgeous tree! This guy's definitely a contender.