Picea- Spruce

Evergreen conifers resembling the silver fir, Abies, in appearance.

Situation:

Many species grow rather large and can therefore only be used on the fringes of large gardens; naturally they provide a good wind-break. Dwarf forms are sometimes planted on slopes, in rock gardens etc; a few of the more unusual types, such as the well known blue spruce, are frequently used as specimen plants.

Soil:

Reasonably good, predominantly acid soil.

Propagation:

Species from seed; garden forms are increased from cuttings or by grafting.

Picea abies, common spruce, Norway spruce, Christmas tree: Height to 20 m, pyramidal habit; bare, reddish-brown twigs, needles to 2.5 cm in length, dark green and glossy. They are clearly arranged in two rows on the underside of the twigs. There are many low-growing cultivars, such as ‘Compacta’, broad cone shape, 1.5 m; ‘Maxwellii’, broad cone with orange-brown twigs; ‘Nidiformis’, very broad, 1 m in height; ‘Repens’, creeping, provides ground-cover.

Picea brewer ana, Brewer’s weeping spruce

Height 20-30 m, pyramidal shape, vertical branches; the needles are grey green. Makes a beautiful specimen tree when there is adequate space; but grows to 6 m across. Picea glauca, white spruce: Height to 20 m, densely branched; the needles are blue green and smell like blackcurrants; very wind-resistant. In gardens we usually find the beautiful 2 m tall ‘Conica’, but subject to red spider, especially on the side facing the prevailing wind. Picea omorika, Serbian spruce: Height 20-30 m, very narrow columnar shape; the branches arch gracefully. The twigs are densely covered in brown down, the needles are blunt, with two broad white bands on the reverse. A fine specimen tree for small gardens, but not problem free. Picea pungens, Colorado spruce: Height to 30 m, pyramidal shape; bare, glossy orange-brown twigs; sharp blue-green needles. There are a number of cultivars, among them the well known blue forms. ‘Koster’ and ‘Moerheim’ are famous blue spruces; height to 10 m; ‘Glauca’ is of a less pronounced blue colour, but is faster growing. ‘Globosa’ is a blue-grey dwarf form, more than 1 m in height and the same across; ‘Prostrata’ is equally low-growing, but spreads over several metres. Blue spruces are greatly subject to attacks by aphids. ik Pieris- Ornamental shrubs which retain their foliage in winter. They are also known as Andromeda, and although in no way resembling heather, they belong in the heather garden.

Situation:

In very sheltered, partially shaded positions. Beware of night frost.

Soil:

Acid, fairly damp soil is essential. If the soil is un-suitable it should first be mixed with plenty of peat.

Propagation:

From seed or from cuttings taken in summer.

Pieris flonbunda: Height to 1 m; white flowers in erect growing plumes in mid spring. The oval leaves are green and glossy, slightly serrated.

Pieris forrestii: Height to 1.5 m; foliage red when it starts into growth. A very fine shrub, but in inland gardens is not sufficiently frost resistant.

Pieris japomca: Height 2 m; white flowers in drooping plumes in mid spring. There is a variegated form called ‘Vanegata’.

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