Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dwarf Pines at the Arboretum

Pinus mugo 'Aurea'
I'm in the mode of observing my new garden to identify holes in design and seasonal interest. A major hole I noticed this winter is the total lack of evergreens visible from INSIDE the house. I planted a few evergreen shrubs as soon as we moved in (there were absolutely none on the property when we bought it - not even the obligatory "yew mustache"!): so far we have some arborvitae, yews, boxwood, and a dwarf spruce. However, I placed ALL of them around the foundation or the perimeter of the yard, where they look good from the street. I entirely neglected to plan for myself looking out on the barren scene from the windows! (Duh.) So, I need to select some more dwarf evergreens that will liven up my winter view - but which ones? Off to the Arboretum for some fun research!

Dwarf pines at the UW-Madison Arboretum

My first objective is to plant a dwarf pine near my tree peonies. I love how pine and peonies look together. The Arboretum has lots of pines to look at - although on the cutest ones it's of course impossible to find the bleeping ID tag! Rrgh. But here are my favorites of the ones who would tell me their names. These were all photographed in mid-March, so this is basically what they look like coming out of winter, in the dullest possible time of year.

Pinus mugo (Mugo pine)
Pinus mugo 'Aurea'

'Aurea' is a broad, spreading Mugo pine with long needles of a glowing, golden-green color. Shape is pleasingly bumpy. I really appreciated how it lit up the landscape. It is probably somewhat large for my small yard.

Pinus mugo 'Big Tuna'

'Big Tuna' is a very cool looking pine (with an equally cool name) - it is indeed big and chunky. It has long, stiff needles and a tough-guy globular shape. I didn't measure it, but it is taller than an average person and roughly equally as wide. Again, a bit large for my purposes, but I may just have to make room...

Pinus mugo 'Teeny'

'Teeny' is very small and cute! A compact flattened-bun shape, with rich green needle color. I'm sure I can fit this one in, or something similar. Some people think green is boring, and want all "evergreens" to be golden, blue, white, or pink..., but in the long winter deep green is the color I crave most.

Pinus strobus (Eastern White Pine)
Pinus strobus 'Pendula'
This weeping Eastern White Pine looked awesome in the landscape, and you can go inside there and hide! My daughter would love that. Probably also some raccoons, foxes, rabbits, or even baboons would move in too... This one is not very dwarf - it's at least 10 feet tall, and wider.

Pinus sylvestris

Pinus sylvestris globosa viridis
This one has the most fantastic long, twisty foliage that gives it a very appealing fuzzy, tufted look. It won't fit next to my tree peonies but would make a great background plant.


  1. Good luck deciding. I love 'teeny' and 'big tuna'. 'Pendula' is very impressive, but looks like it would need a LOT of room!

    1. Many of the "dwarf" pines grow to be very big eventually! I wish I could grow all of them but my yard is too little.

  2. Hi, I like pines very much, more the 'Teeny' and the yellow 'Aurea'.
    When the trees are without the leaves, my evergreen pines decorate the garden.

    1. You are lucky to have lots of pines - your garden must be beautiful in winter! I definitely need more evergreens. Winter is long here, as it is for you too I suppose.

  3. It’s obvious why these shrubs are also known as dwarf mountain pines. Hehe, these kinds of plants are perfect in our gardens. We mostly see them covered in snow because of their low shrubby growth and adaptation to it. I haven’t seen them in a while… Good thing I stumbled here and at least saw photos of ‘em. :D
    Jamie Keifer


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