Some very special plants

Before I describe the plants, I need to tell you a bit about the person who developed them. In my first blog posting I mentioned getting hooked on dwarf and miniature conifers when I spotted Picea abies Pusch at the Coenosium Rock Garden at the South Seattle College Arboretum. All of the plants in that arboretum were donated by Bob Fincham, an avid conifer enthusiast and, until just last month, the owner of his own Coenosium Gardens in Eatonville, WA. Bob is also one of the original members of the American Conifer Society (ACS) and has been a tremendous supporter of that organization as well as conifer gardens around the United States. He has now sold his Eatonville property and I was fortunate to be among those who could tour his place one more time and buy plants, many of which are original cultivars developed by him.

One of Bob's endeavors was to cross pollinate two spruce trinomials: Picea abies Gold Drift and Picea abies Acrocona (this is the "parent" plant of my 'Pusch'). Gold Drift was one of the plants selected by the ACS as its Collector Conifer of the Year in 2013. Acrocona is primarily an upright tree with drooping branches and is known for its abundant red/purple cones at the tips of its branches. Gold Drift will be mostly prostrate unless staked for height. The one in my yard was staked to height of about 4' and is now beginning to trail down my rockery.

Picea abies Acrocona

Cones at the tips of Acrocona

Picea abies Gold Drift

By cross-pollinating these two plants Bob produced many new varieties of Picea abies (Norway Spruce). He described this process in the Fall 2015 quarterly magazine from ACS and published results with descriptions of some of the plants. He is currently working on a book where he will publish results and descriptions of all of the varieties he developed.

After indulging myself with a few purchases for my garden, I noticed there were several nice specimens remaining that I was able to purchase for the nursery. I acquired 11 varieties, 16 plants total. There are 2 each of 2 varieties, 3 of one variety and the rest are singles.

I also acquired one duo standard - two different plants grafted on standards and growing close together so the trunks will eventually join. I learned a new word when Bob told me this is called "pleaching". A picture of this is at the end of this blog posting.

Even the names have interest. Bob named them based on their mature appearance. My favorite name (he did not have one available for the nursery) is Goldfinch. However, two underwent name changes to honor other conifer collectors. Picea abies Catharine's Golden Heart was named for the mother of Will Fletcher, an avid collector who lives in Gig Harbor. I had the pleasure of touring his fabulous garden a few years ago as part of the annual Western Region ACS conference. Unfortunately, he did not have one that I could get for the nursery, I purchased mine from a grower a couple of years ago. Since my wife's name is Catherine (note the different spelling), I thought it was important to have this in my yard. Another (and I did get one of these for the nursery) is Picea abies Anita's Golden Cloak. This one was named for the wife of the president of the western region of the ACS Dave Olszyk.

We are creating a display of the plants. They are all priced the same at $59.98. This is pretty much a one-time situation. Bob sold the last of his inventory to collectors and a couple of wholesalers. Many of these plants will rarely be available through a retail outlet. Those that do will likely be more expensive for plants this size. I know some young plants (one and two year grafts) are available from an Oregon grower and we will have those this fall.

Although not part of my original "Top ten plus one", we have labeled each of these with the bright green "Bill's Pick" sticker.

While many look similar, there are distinct differences in either color, habit or growth rate. Some varieties have produced the red cones on the tips characteristic of Acrocona. Those that have not may yet cone in