Author: George Gilchrist

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Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011 at 4:01 pm
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Pick A Plant

Abies koreana – A cracker of a tree for Christmas

I wonder how many people this Christmas will purchase a potted Christmas tree with the intention of being environmentally friendly and intend to plant it in their garden after the festive season. Let’s consider what options there will be in the garden centre?

Nordman fir (Abies nordmaniana) A very large tree of 50-60m.
Norway spuce – (Picea abies) – A very large tree of 40-50m
Scots Pine – (Pinus sylvestris) – A large tree of 35-60m

I hope you have spotted the common problem? All these trees grow to an extremely large size and if you are lucky enough to own a large country estate then great. However for those of us with considerably less space, then at what other time of the year would we consider planting large forestry trees in our more spaciously challenged gardens? Let’s save ourselves a future hangover, not to mention the cost of removal and the negative impact on our garden as well as our neighbours (I hope my own are reading this) by selecting a highly ornamental conifer that will remain in the right proportions for many years to come.

Abies koreana – Importantly it is described as a slow growing tree. Being neat and compact in habit pyramidal in shape it is commonly known as the Korean fir. Its ornamental leaves are dark green on top and gleaming white beneath. Okay by now you are probably thinking what is so special about this conifer? However there is also no need to decorate this highly ornamental conifer with its stunning violet purple upright cylindrical cones 4-7cm in height and about 2.5cm wide that are produced in abundance from an early age with plants as small as 0.5m in height having cones. Although they lose their intensity of colour with age plenty more are produced and provide interest all year.

Cultivation is relatively easy it is best to select a sunny location for best results and it will grow in most soil types in the Lothian’s with the exception of very poorly drained soil. Good forms should only achieve a maximum height of 15 metres after many years a height of 2-3 metres after 20 years is more typical although a poor form does exist in the trade that is taller growing so it’s best to buy plants from a reputable source.

I managed to keep one growing in an old whisky barrel for a number of years beside my front door, over the years it must have received hundreds of compliments.

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