kinds of people used to visit our Lehighton, Pennsylvania home to see Coenosium
Gardens and purchase some little plant treasures. If an ‘out of towner’ had
trouble finding us, just about anyone in town could direct him to the house with
‘weird looking’ plants all around it. Those weird looking plants were a
magnet for conifer collectors from many parts of the country. A wide variety of
plants with many different shapes, sizes, textures and colors were located
throughout our gardens. One group which attracted considerable comment was the
golden group. To the uninitiated these plants appeared sick or dying, a fact
that all collectors have come up against. For example, we had two golden
oriental arborvitae (Platycladus orientalis ‘Conspicua’) flanking the
entrance to our house. Every winter we were questioned about their bronzed
appearance as visitors wondered what was happening to these plants.
we have moved to the Northwest, our collection has grown so that it now fills
almost three acres with a wide range of conifers in all colors. The blues and
golds add variety and interest to the planting with the golds providing a bright
contrast to the basic greens, especially on cloudy days. The gold conifers that
are used for landscaping our gardens are not the dull, chlorotic golds of sick
plants. Rather they are the bright, vibrant golds and yellows of very healthy
plants. These are golds that are either present throughout the year, varying in
brightness with the season, or golds that are seasonal, becoming bright at
certain times of the year while green the rest of the time.
conifers are the Dr. Jekylls and Mr. Hydes of the conifer world. They are the
gaudiest of the conifers. When used properly, they add allure and elegance to
the landscape. A source of bright color throughout the year, once used they are
often considered indispensable. Most people enjoy a splash of color in the
garden. Flowers add such color but only ephemerally so. On the other hand,
selected conifers serve the same function for extended time periods.
best example I have seen of golden conifers utilized throughout a landscape was
in the village of East Hampton, Long Island, New York. Here on an estate named
The Creeks, Alfonso Ossorio and Edward Dragon
established an arboretum. An artist, Ossorio created a sixty acre work of
art by painting with trees. By combining and blending colors, sizes, and
textures, his everchanging artwork was pleasing to the eye through all four
seasons. The most utilized color was gold, obtained by planting many different
golden conifers. Conifers were preferred because the colors were present
throughout the year. The success of Ossorio and Dragon was obvious since they
entertained hundreds of visitors every year. Unfortunately Ossorio died several
years ago, and the present owner of the estate has closed it to visitors.
winter countryside can be quite drab and uninteresting with no bright flowers or
colorful leaves on trees and shrubs. The typical winter landscape around many
homes is also quite monotonous with a few different shades of dark green
provided by varieties of Taxus media
and Thuja occidentalis. Gold conifers
are being discovered and do pop up upon occasion. When one homeowner on the
block adds some color to the winter landscape, neighbors take notice and the
local retailer will have requests for some of these plants.
selecting a golden conifer, a person should consider the intensity of
coloration. Some of the more weakly colored plants appear chlorotic, as if
suffering from a nutrient deficiency, giving them a washed-out, yellow-green
appearance. These must be avoided since they will only “turn off” the
amateur looking for something gold. A gold plant that burns in the summer or
winter sun can also cause a homeowner to be unhappy. Cultural requirements must
also be understood by anyone purchasing a scorch-prone golden conifer.
was introduced into Europe in 1839. Native to northern Africa, this species his
produced several very important cultivars for the home landscape. There are only
two golden forms, ‘Aurea’ and ‘Aurea Robusta’, both of which become
large trees in time. Of the two, I prefer ‘Aurea Robusta’ due to the bluish
undertones of the needles. The color is very yellow, and established plants
resist burning in the full sun. This species does not tolerate harsh winter
climates, an unfortunate characteristic that is quite common to Cedrus
in general(with few exceptions).
golden forms of Cedrus deodara can be
quite confusing, with more being added from time to time. My choices for the
best uprights would be ‘Gold Cone’, ‘Klondike’, and ‘Vink’s Gold’.
Cedrus deodara ‘Gold Cone’ is a fast-growing tree with
bright gold coloration and a narrow growth habit. The color is quite good
throughout the year. ‘Klondike’ is most attractive in the winter, when it
takes on a bronze-gold color, an excellent contrast to its summer
coloration, which is quite close to green and not at all striking. A broader
growing selection, ‘Vink’s Gold’ has good color with blue-green
undertones, making it quite different from the others.
Cedrus deodara 'Gold Cone'
Cedrus deodara 'Gold Cascade'
Cedrus deodara 'Harvest Gold'
Cedrus deodara 'Klondike'
prostrate cultivar of Cedrus deodara
was selected as a seedling in 1975 and aptly named ‘Golden Horizon’. This
cultivar grows quite fast and has very good color in the sun. It has a spreading
habit and does not grow very high. It does develop an occasional terminal shoot,
but immediate removal will keep the plant quite low. Another selection found
about the same time is Cedrus deodara
‘Gold Mound’. This plant becomes a bright yellow, low, broad pyramid. It is
very dense but does need some room to develop.
Cedrus deodara 'Gold Mound'
‘Gold Nugget’ is a new miniature selection from Australia. I have been
trying to build up numbers for eight years but find it a difficult process
because the plant grows very slowly. The bright gold color does resist burning.
‘Aurea’ is a slow-growing, conical tree with golden yellow
needles possessing green undertone (the Cedrus
atlantica forms have a grey undertone). Cedrus
libani ‘Aurea Prostrata’ and ‘Golden Dwarf’ are apparently side
branch grafts of ‘Aurea’ that tend to sprawl or go upright at an angle
rather than grow directly upward.
which is native to Japan, has produced as many variants as any other conifer
species. The geneticist would say that this species has ‘loose genes’. Its
proclivity for mutation is amazing. Most of its named cultivars have come from
seed, and a nice assortment of golden forms has resulted.
Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Golden Fern'
Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Golden Pygmy'
Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Kamaeni Hiba'
dwarfest of the golden Chamaecyparis
obtusa variants is ‘Golden Sprite’, which originated as a seedling from
‘Gracilis Aurea’. It is a moplike, little plant that requires almost ten
years to attain the size of a cantaloupe. As with many of the golden conifers,
‘Golden Sprite’ has a tendency to burn in the harsh summer sun. Some
afternoon shade will prevent this while still maintaining the rich, gold color.
Among the most popular and better known of the golden Hinoki Cypresses is ‘Nana Lutea’. A golden sport on ‘Nana Gracilis’, it was introduced to the nursery trade in Holland less than forty years ago. The gold coloration is very bright, and established plants exhibit little burn in the full sun. One of the early specimens brought into the United States is a compact bush about 5’ tall and 4’ wide at the base with very evident leaf sprays. The compact, tight plants bought from commercial nurseries have been trimmed to maintain their tight growth habit. And, interestingly, the growth rate of this plant may be increased 50% by grafting.
grafted, most of the Chamaecyparis obtusa
cultivars will grow faster, with only a minimal loss of compactness. They will
also be more tolerant of clay soils, Thuja
occidentalis works well as a compatible understock with Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’ or ‘Pyramidalis’ being
late Joe Reis of Long Island, New York collected and germinated Chamaecyparis obtusa seeds at every opportunity. He grew the
resulting plants for ten or more years and even made propagations from them
before considering attaching names to the choicest selections. Chamaecyparis
obtusa ‘Meroke’ is a very special plant developed by Joe. Growing just
slightly faster than ‘Nana Lutea’, ‘Meroke’ is a very narrow, upright
plant with a bright gold color.
lesser known selection of merit is Chamaecyparis
obtusa ‘Verdoni’. Possibly a sport of ‘Nana Gracilis’, it grows
faster than ‘Nana Lutea’. Not as compact as ‘Nana Lutea’ it is,
nevertheless, quite dense and will create a landscape specimen in less time. On
the other hand, since it is considerably slower than ‘Aurea’, it is quite
suitable for the smaller gardens of today and will become very popular as it
becomes better known. It has very good resistance to sun burn in any situation.
‘Aurea’ and ‘Cripsii’ are both very old cultivars and grow quite fast.
They are bright gold and pyramidal, eventually attaining the height of a tree.
‘Cripsii’ is not quite as hardy as ‘Aurea’ but exhibits very attractive
broadly, frondlike branchlets with decurving tops. ‘Aurea’ will subsequently
be the denser of the two but not as graceful in appearance.
Chamaecparis obtusa 'Cripsii'
Sawara False Cypress, another species endemic to Japan, is better known by its
scientific name Chamaecyparis pisifera.
Having a strong inclination to mutate, this species has produced a number of
cultivars with many uses in the landscape.
gold thread cypresses are the best known of the Chamaecyparis
pisifera cultivars. The one most commercially available is ‘Filifera Aurea
Nana’, not a true cultivar but a form propagated from side cuttings of
‘Filifera Aurea’. It is low and slow growing but will eventually achieve the
size and appearance of ‘Filifera Aurea’. On the other hand, the cultivar
‘Golden Mop’ is definitely a slow growing sport of ‘Filifera Aurea’ and
the brightest gold of all the golden threadleafs. Its one drawback is a tendency
to burn in the full sun. The cultivar ‘Sungold’ will not burn in the full
sun, is hardier than other selections, and is quite dwarf. Its resistance to
burn is due to its less spectacular coloration.
The ‘Plumosa’ forms of Chamaecyparis pisifera possess needles that are between the juvenile
‘Squarrosa’ type (long, free standing leaves) and the adult type (small,
adpressed leaves). These distinctive foliages clothed in different golden hues
are quite exceptional in the landscape. The cultivar ‘Plumosa Aurea’ is a
fast growing plant that may be used as either background for other plantings or
by itself as a specimen plant. Its bright color and feathery appearance should
increase its popularity for the home landscape. There are also some excellent
compact forms of ‘Plumosa’. For example, ‘Plumosa Juniperoides’ (‘Juniperoides
Aurea’ in some catalogs) is quite dwarf for many years and has a bright gold
color, especially in the early summer. Its foliage approaches that of the
‘Squarrosa Lutea’ has yellowish white foliage that is very bright in the
garden. It is an upright grower and is compact. Interestingly, a specimen by
this name once sported some golden thread‑like foliage. It has stayed
consistently mixed when propagated, producing a very unique plant identified as
other species of Chamaecyparis with attractive, golden cultivars not yet mentioned are Chamaecyparis
nootkatensis and Chamaecyparis
thyoides. Chamaecyparis nootkatensis
‘Aurea’ is not bright gold but has a frosted appearance to its foliage. The
plant is pyramidal and fairly slow growing. I first noticed this cultivar at
Watnong Nursery in New Jersey. I purchased a specimen for my collection, and
several propagations from this plant crossed the United States with us on our
move to the Northwest. Recently this species has been determined to be wrongly
named and is now called Cupressus
is bright gold with a conical growth habit that becomes bronze in the winter.
Its typical, adult thyoides foliage is pleasingly matched to its golden coloration and
is distinctive from all other golden forms of Chamaecyparis. I purchased my original plant from Joel Spingarn when
he lived on Long Island. Later, when visiting Martin Brook in eastern
Pennsylvania, I saw a mature specimen and realized just how attractive this
cultivar actually was.
seems as if many wholesale nurseries are naming new junipers at an alarming
rate. Each year, when the new catalogs arrive, new names have been added. It can
all become quite confusing, especially to someone who is still trying to master
the junipers already on the market. And, of course, there are all kinds of
discussions regarding which of the new junipers actually deserved being named,
with more confusion resulting from the trademarking of a new name on a juniper
that has been available in the trade under another name. Junipers are confusing
enough without nurserymen only adding to it with these practices. The golden
junipers, being distinctive and in limited numbers, are fairly easy to
Juniperus chinensis 'Aurea'
Juniperus communis 'Aureospicata'
more common golden junipers can be read about in many different catalogs. One of
these is a very old cultivar developed in 1855 and introduced into the English
trade in 1872. Juniperus chinensis
‘Aurea’ is bright gold and grows narrowly conical. It is not too fast
growing and may burn as a young plant. But it is a bright gold upright that will
become quite popular with time.
late Gunter Horstmann, Schneverdingen, West Germany, discovered a golden form of
Juniperus communis that makes a bright
gold, fountain-like form with large, lush needles. It is not susceptible to
fungal blights and was given the name ‘Schneverdingen Goldmachangel’, which
in English means ‘Schneverdingen Golden Schnapps’. It is usually sold as
‘Golden Schnapps’ in America while in Europe it may show up as ‘Golden
‘Gold Cone’ and ‘Hibernica Aurea’ are two other golden selections of
this species with growth habits similar to ‘Schneverdingen Goldmachangel’.
They differ in their more formal pyramidal shape. Their comparative performances
in the North American climate will require some time to determine.
am not familiar with all of the different golden forms of Juniperus
a probable hybrid juniper that some taxonamists contend to be simply chinensis.
It has recently been determined by conifer taxonomists that it should be called Juniperus
to represent the original plant. There are two unique forms not readily found in
the trade. Juniperus x
pfitzeriana ‘Plumosa Aurea’
was introduced before 1885 in England, but its slow growth rate has kept the big
growers from producing it. If not the goldest of the junipers, it is at least as
gold as any other cultivar. It is a dwarf form with a broad, shrubby growth
habit. In any garden it becomes a most outstanding plant. Juniperus
‘Daub’s Frosted’ is a low, spreading juniper that is very different
from the other golden junipers. The exposed leaf surfaces are bright gold in the
spring becoming a bronze gold with the shaded leaves taking on shades of blue
and green. It is slow growing and the branchlets turn downward at their
juniper that does not root and has to be grafted is Juniperus
virginiana ‘Elegantissima’ (sometimes sold as ‘Aurea’). This plant
is fountainlike and fairly slow growing. The coloration is deep gold in the new
growth with dark green older growth. In the winter the gold color goes more
toward bronze. The needles are both scale-like and needle-like.
The branchlets are somewhat pendulous, and the seasonal color changes are quite
the true firs, Genus Abies are largely
ignored by landscapers, with a few exceptions. Such neglect is hard to explain,
unless it is due to the difficulties of producing landscaped sized plants in a
reasonable length of time with a minimum of effort.
the true firs, Genus Abies are largely
ignored by landscapers, with a few exceptions. Such neglect is hard to explain,
unless it is due to the difficulties of producing landscaped sized plants in a
reasonable length of time with a minimum of effort.
firs are tricky to grow in containers, need repeated root pruning when field
grown, and must be staked as young plants to combat plagiotropism (tendency to
grow prostrate). When grown to a marketable size, a fir does command a high
price, due to the difficulties of cultivation.
are several golden firs with garden merit. They will become quite popular as
people discover them. Some of these cultivars are quite dwarf while others
become large trees.
‘Winter Gold’ grows at a reduced rate but will
eventually reach a reasonable
size. Yellow green during the growing season, it becomes canary yellow with the
onset of colder weather. I do not know if it is as hardy as the species, but it
does do well in northern Germany where it originated.
all the large growing, golden firs, Abies
koreana ‘Aurea’ is quite possibly the most attractive. Growing about six
inches per year, it does attain a respectable size. A young plant may burn in
the full sun, but resistance to burning does develop. In the summer it is not
uncommon for a medium sized specimen to produce purple cones, creating an
attractive contrast in colors. A selection recently out of Europe grows into a
wide, flat-topped bush with more of a subdued golden color to the foliage. It
has been labeled ‘Golden Dream’ and on occasion will become broadly conical.
Abies koreana 'Golden dream'
exciting discovery occurred in Europe about 1961. A dwarf, golden Nordmann fir
was found. Abies nordmaniana ‘Golden
Spreader’ is bright gold, grows much broader than high, and is somewhat
depressed at its center, Since it does display a tendency to burn in the full
sun, it should be grown in partial shade where it still exhibits excellent
color. As it ages, a slow-growing terminal shoot will develop, producing a
mature specimen that is very dense, squatly conical, and very bright gold.
Spanish Fir, Abies pinsapo, also has a
Symmetrically-growing and stiff needled, Abies Pinsapo ‘Aurea’ has bright gold new growth that turns
green by winter. The gold is most pronounced on the upper surfaces of the new
growth. Burning can be a problem until the plant is established, and it is not
very tolerant of subzero winter temperatures. Some of the gold becomes
white-gold and is retained well into the winter.
1933, a golden Noble fir was discovered at the Sherwood Nursery in Portland,
Oregon. The needles are long and upcurved with a persistent bright yellow color.
Although a young plant will burn in the full sun, the burning will cease as it
ages. Some nurseries sell this plant as Abies
procera ‘Aurea’, but it is more correctly listed as Abies procera ‘Sherwoodii’. At one time a rumor was circulating
to the effect that this plant originated on Mt. Hood in Oregon as the top half
of a lightning struck tree. Although this rumor was never substantiated, other
nurserymen claim to have seen lightning struck trees with golden tops.
Cryptomeria japonica is even more
under-utilized than the Abies. For
many parts of the United States winter hardiness
of Cryptomeria japonica is a problem, but many areas can grow this
species with no hardiness problems at all. I am familiar with only one cultivar
that I could actually call gold: Cryptomeria
japonica ‘Sekkan Sugi’. Not a dwarf form by any stretch of the
imagination, this cultivar becomes a medium sized tree in the landscape. The
very plumose, creamy yellow new growth soon turns a bright gold, creating a
bicolored, very striking plant in the landscape.
are found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. This Genus has produced a large
assortment of cultivars, a fact especially true of the genetically unstable Picea
abies. Among the numerous cultivars of Picea
are several choice golden forms.
Picea abies 'Perry's Gold'
Picea omorika 'White Tops'
Picea orientalis 'Early Gold'
Picea pungens 'Stanley Gold'
Picea abies 'Repens Gold'
Norway spruce, Picea abies, has a
tendency to mutate much more readily than the other species, and yet it has a
paucity of golden forms. The cultivar ‘Argenteospicata’ is supposed to
produce long, white tips, but my specimen produces tips that are bright yellow.
The bright color is striking for a few weeks, until it fades to green. The
contrast between the gold tips and dark green foliage is most attractive,
especially on large specimens. This selection rapidly becomes a large tree.
‘Aurea’ grows like the species but with glossy yellow foliage. Its gold
color is most apparent on young plants. As a plant ages, the yellow is not as
striking. However, I have been told that the color remains very bright in some
parts of the United States. An improvement over this cultivar has recently
appeared in America. Picea abies
‘Aurea Jacobsen’ is much brighter than ‘Aurea’ but since it is
relatively new, its appearance as an old tree is not yet known.
the old conifer collection at the Arnold Arboretum is a special Norway Spruce
more than sixty feet tall. It is almost 100 years old and appears somewhat pale
colored. Not an outstanding tree in this instance, propagations from it possess
a very unique foliage coloration: a very pale yellow, almost white color. Named Picea
abies ‘Elegantissima’, its growth rate approaches that of the species.
Although the color will never have mass appeal, it should be made available to
the horticultural trade as it is striking in the proper location. I have
photographed a specimen of it at a Long Island, New York estate (The Creeks)
beside a multicolored concrete walkway. The combination creates a pleasing
response whenever I show this slide during a plant lecture.
ten years ago I discovered a golden branch on one of my weeping Norway spruces, Picea
abies ‘Reflexa’. I propagated it and two attached branchlets. I now have
three large plants and several younger ones growing in our gardens that are
bright gold through the summer and gold frosted through the winter, turning
green the following spring just as the new golden growth flushes. I have named
this exceptional plant Picea abies ‘Gold Drift’.
Black spruce, Picea mariana, is native
to northern North America, extremely hardy, and tolerant of swampy conditions.
In Newfoundland the branches are boiled to make spruce beer. A golden form of
the species, Picea mariana ‘Aureovariegata’,
displays golden new growth in the spring and maintains this golden color on all
of its upper surfaces through autumn. Growing rapidly, ‘Aureovariegata’ is
an attractive landscape plant with varying shades of gold, blue, and green
native of the Caucasus, Picea orientalis
has given us some very striking golden cultivirs. Two of these, ‘Aurea’ and
‘Aureospicata’, both exhibit golden new growth in the spring. The difference
between them is the retention of some gold coloration on the foliage of
‘Aurea’ while ‘Aureospicata’ soon turns completely dark green. Both grow
to a large size and put on an eyecatching display in Spring when the gold of the
new foliage is contrasted with the dark green of the older foliage. A new
cultivar, ‘Early Gold’ is just like ‘Aureospicata’ except it flushes its
new growth about two weeks earlier.
best of the upright golden spruces, Picea
orientalis ‘Skylands’ (‘Aurea Compacta’), pushes new growth that is
bright gold and retains that color through Winter. As a young plant it may burn
in the full sun. Once it is established, any burning becomes incidental. In
shade the growth rate approaches species normal and the plant is dark green with
just a hint of gold. In the full sun its growth rate is reduced and the gold is
BRIGHT. If a new graft is not staked, the plant may merely spread outward and
grow as a prostrate cultivariant. Removing any developing leaders as they appear
allows this growth habit to be relatively permanent.
witches’-broom was discovered on a garden specimen of ‘Skylands’ that was
quickly propagated and did not disappoint anyone. Correctly known as Picea orientalis ‘Tom Thumb Gold’, it is a dense, bright gold
cushion with an exceptionally slow growth rate.
Colorado Spruce, Picea pungens, has
several golden forms. Picea pungens
‘Aurea’ is an apt name for a plant that produces gold new growth and keeps
its color throughout the year. Its gold is not as rich as that of Picea
orientalis ‘Skylands’ but is still quite good, making an interesting
contrast in the landscape. A similar plant, Picea
pungens ‘Lutea’, produces dull green new growth that turns bright gold
during the summer. The gold is deeper than that of ‘Aurea’, and the growth
rate appears to be slower. By the end of summer the gold shows just as a light
frosting on the tops of the branches.
Glen’ is my favorite of the Picea
pungens cultivars. The new growth is a white gold color that the plant
retains into winter. This variegation is retained on the upper surface foliage
of the branches and presents a nice contrast with the rest of the foliage, which
is blue. This cultivar grows about 2/3 species normal, developing a nice,
compact tree. In the Northwest, if planted in the full sun, this plant burns
badly, until it attains some size.
‘Aureospicata’ and ‘Summer Gold’ are two newer slections that become
large trees which flush gold in the spring. ‘Aureospicata’ shows the bright
gold color for about four weeks while ‘Summer Gold’ shows it into the
summer. A third new cultivar, ‘Sunshine’ also flushes bright gold but
retains the color through winter, and the bottom parts of each branch become
blue-green during the summer.
Picea pungens 'Sunshine'
golden Sitka spruce, Picea sitchensis ‘Bentham's
along a river in British Columbia. It was a golden tree and was held
sacred by the Haida Indian tribe. This plant must be grown in the shade, where
it still exhibits a bright gold color, otherwise most of the needles will be
burned and killed. Very rare, this plant will probably always be a collector’s
item. It is very bright and coveted by true collectors.
It was originally listed as 'Aurea' but that name is illegitimate for this
plant and the name had been in long use for a large, chlorotic-appearing plant
It was originally listed as 'Aurea' but that name is illegitimate for this plant and the name had been in long use for a large, chlorotic-appearing plant in Australia.
‘Aurea’ is a small tree with a golden hue to the foliage that is brightest
during the spring. Small plants will burn, but the color is quite striking on
older specimens, especially when it contrasts with the normal blue and green
needles on the branchlet undersides.
‘Nana’ is a compact selection of Serbian spruce. Recently a golden form has
appeared in America. The jury is still out on this one, but early observations
indicate a plant that will be a nice addition to anyone’s garden. Picea
omorika ‘Tijn’ grows much slower than ‘Nana’ and will apparently
become a cushion-shaped dwarf for the smaller garden.
‘Aurea’ is a golden selection that has a gold frosted appearance to the
foliage with the golden color being most intense during the spring and into the
summer. It grows much like the typical Serbian spruce in shape but at only about
2/3 the rate.
Genus Pinus ranges through both
hemispheres and has over 100 species. There have been many golden selections of
pines. Many of them have proven to be quite spectacular.
‘Frisian Gold’ originated as a golden witches’-broom. It grows twice
as wide as high with twisted, gold needles that become gold-tipped in
their second year. This cultivar is one of those ‘can’t miss’ varieties
that appears on occasion. Its color is good and the compact growth habit fits
the gardens of tomorrow.
lodgepole pine, Pinus contorta
‘Taylor’s Sunburst’, produces very bright yellow candles and needles that
put on a vibrant display for almost two months. Then they turn green as the new
growth hardens. This large tree grabs the attention of every visitor to
Coenosium gardens in the spring.
bark on new shoots and bright gold needles on the new growth distinguish Pinus
densiflora ‘Aurea’ from the other cultivars of its species. It is a fast
growing pine that exhibits its best color when grown under some stress. The
glossy, brown mature buds complete a most attractive picture. This plant is a
fast growing cultivar with good branching to create a dense plant.
Pinus jeffreyi 'Gold'
Pinus mugo 'Albospica Tomschke'
Pinus mugo 'Carsten's Wintergold'
Pinus mugo 'Fhruling's Gold'
Pinus mugo 'Pal Maleter'
Pinus mugo 'Per Golden'
Pinus mugo 'Sunshine'
Pinus mugo 'Zundert'
Pinus mugo 'Carsten's Wintergold' (L) and 'Zundert' (R)
is a golden selection that grows like a typical Pinus
mugo var. pumilio. As a young plant the color is quite good. With age the
bright gold becomes somewhat yellow green, and unless the plant is sheared, it
tends to open up and grow rather loosely. If the plant is somewhat stressed,
perhaps the color would improve. There are several other golden Pinus
mugo under evaluation that appear to be headed for a bright future in
‘Amber Gold’ is a selection with an almost fluorescent golden winter color
to the foliage that is green during the summer. Another plant with more of a
bright yellow gold color during the winter is Pinus
mugo ‘Zundert’. At the head of the class, however, is Pinus mugo ‘Carsten’s Wintergold’ This plant is even brighten
than ‘Amber Gold’ and dwarfer than either of the other two. In fact, it
grows at about half the rate, becoming much denser as a specimen.
our first visit to Holland in 1985, Dianne and I saw some spectacular plants. Pinus nigra ‘Aurea’ was one of this group. Dick van Hoey Smith
and I visited in old arboretum with a specimen of this cultivar. It was over 18
meters (60 feet) tall, light green, with bright yellow candles standing up at
the end of each branch. The contrast was most attractive, especially since a Cedrus
atlantica ‘Glauca’ stood behind it and towered over it by another 6
meters (20 feet). Discovered in 1909 in Hungary, it is a rare plant in North
has extensive variation among its cultivars
with many selections chosen for
needle and bark characteristics or exceptionally blue foliage, but there are
only two golden selections. Pinus
parviflora ‘Ogon’ is a sulfur yellow plant that grows almost 30cm (12
inches) per year with an open branch structure. The color intensifies during the
winter and is quite attractive against a dark background.
‘Goldylocks’ was brought into America a number of years ago by Billy
Schwartz, a friend from the Philadelphia area, who was very important in
establishing the American Conifer Society but is unfortunately unrecognized by
the present membership. This plant grows into a squat, dense, little pyramid
with bright gold foliage and twisted needles. It burns slightly in the full sun
and has a frosted appearance in a setting with mostly shade.
Pinus radiata 'Aurea'
American red pine has produced few cultivars for horticulture. Among these few
is a form with bright gold coloration and long, twisted needles, Pinus resinosa ‘Aurea’. It grows rapidly with limited branching
and is difficult to propagate since the new growth is very thick.
all the pines, Pinus strobus has
perhaps the greatest number of named cultivars, several of which are gold and
quite interesting. Bill Bennett lived in eastern Virginia and had a knack for
spotting unusual plants in the wild, mostly along the highway. He shared
cuttings from his plants with Layne Ziegenfuss and Greg Williams, who propagated
them and shared them with arboreta and other collectors. Pinus
strobus ‘Bennett OD’ was one of his finds. In the spring its new growth
is bright gold, both the new bark and the needles. Gradually, during the summer,
green bands develop upon the needles, giving it the appearance of a dragoneye
pine, hence the name. It grows more slowly than the species, making it suitable
for the midsized to small garden. It has to be grown in partial shade to prevent
golden Eastern white pine, Pinus strobus
‘Hillside Winter Gold’, appears completely normal until winter arrives, when
it turns completely gold. It is a fast growing plant, and its winter gold color
is quite attractive. One winter Layne and Greg saw a hillside of golden white
pines. They took scions from the brightest of the group and grafted them.
Imagine their disappointment when every successful graft turned green in the
propagation house. Layne was tempted to throw the grafts away but instead set
them aside and forgot about them. He remembered them the next winter when
surprisingly they all turned gold again. Luckily these grafts were successful
because the hillside was cleared of trees soon after they discovered it.
‘Louie’ is a new selection out of Vermont. It has a nice golden color
throughout the year. The intensity increases somewhat during the winter. It
grows slower than the species and develops a nice, full branch structure. The
soft texture of the foliage adds to the luster of the golden needles.
throughout northern Europe Pinus
sylvestris has produced an abundance of cultivars. Once again there exists a
cultivar named ‘Aurea’. Pinus
sylvestris ‘Aurea’ develops a bright gold color by early summer which
intensifies into the winter. As with some other cultivars, stress seems to
improve its color. It develops into a medium sized tree, apparently losing some
of its brightness as it ages.
newer selection from England, Pinus
sylvestris ‘Gold Coin’ is a dwarf form of golden Scots pine. In addition
to having all parts reduced in size when compared to the species, its color is
much more intense than that of ‘Aurea’.
improved selection of ‘Aurea’ has recently
been finding its way around
America. It was found by a collector in England named Nisbet, who made a number
of introductions when he was alive. Pinus
sylvestris ‘Nisbet’s Gold’ is brighter than ‘Aurea’ and appears to
have longer needles and a faster growth rate.
Pinus sylvestris 'Gold Coin'
Pinus sylvestris 'Moseri' showing its winter color to the right in the picture.
pine with few known cultivars is Pinus
virginiana. One of its cultivars, ‘Wate’s Golden’, was found by Bill
Bennett. A normal Virginia pine during the growing season, it turns bright gold
in the winter. In fact, during the winter in Pennsylvania it was the brightest
conifer in my collection. Rapidly developing into a large tree, its color is
improved by colder winters. And it is extremely hardy. In the spring, as the
gold color is fading, the plant will flower and the red female strobili
(immature cones) make a striking contrast with.the remaining gold in the
foliage. In the Northwest it is not nearly as impressive as it was in the
is one golden selection of Pinus
thunbergiana and it is named ‘Ogon’, which is technically an
illegitimate name since ogon means “gold”, but then so does ‘Aurea’.
This cultivar has golden foliage through most of the year which becomes most
intense during the winter. Each needle has the brightest color at its tip
becoming yellow-green toward the base. It also seems to be more intense in
younger plants but even my largest, which is about 5 meters (15 feet) tall has a
nice golden hue throughout the winter.
There are several golden selections of Taxus. Taxus baccata ‘Adpressa Aurea’ is a dwarf form with good color and shortened, blunt needles. Taxus cuspidata ‘Aurescens’ on the other hand is a fast growing, spreading form with long, recurved, pointed needles.
Thuja occidentalis assortment creating a future tapestry hedge'
Thuja occidentalis 'Golden Globe'
Platycladus orientalis 'Morgan' in summer.
has produced a number of golden cultivars. ‘George Peabody’, ‘Pumila
Sudsworthi’, and ‘Sunkist’ are upright pyramids while ‘Golden Globe’
grows into a globe with no pruning. None of these plants burn in the full sun,
but the upright cultivars can be hard to distinguish from each other.
Canadian hemlock, Tsuga canadensis ,
has produced a number of golden cultivars. There are two distinctive ones
presently available from better conifer sources. Tsuga
canadensis ‘Everitt Golden’ is a compact plant that develops excellent
color when planted in the sun. It was discovered during 1918 growing in the wild
in New Hampshire. The other gold form, ‘Golden Splendor’, is a fast growing
plant that must be kept sheared to develop dense branching. It tolerates the
full sun with little difficulty and grows like the species.
more people will be encouraged to try some of the new golden conifers as they
become available. These plants need not be avoided, especially if careful
selections are made. It is important to select cultivars that do not appear
chlorotic and to display them in a pleasing manner.
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