About Picea engelmannii ‘Mountain Gold’: The Engelmann spruce parent tree was discovered while hiking on a trail in the Cascade Mountains of eastern Washington.
We couldn’t believe it! We turned a corner and there it was! A beautiful 20 foot tall variegated Engelmann spruce tree standing on its own just off of the hiking trail!
It grafted quite well and actually prefers the sun! Our grafts started growing much better after we moved them from the shade to the sun. There is very little burning of the golden needles. The yellow color intensifies in the sun and becomes quite prominent by June.
About Picea engelmannii ‘Blue Torch’:
This is so far our favorite Engelmann spruce broom cultivar! It is so thick, dense, hardy, and BLUE! And such a striking form! It was harvested the day Mike fell off the ladder and broke his ankle and his foot! Several other specimens derived their names from that fateful day! Including Picea engelmannii ’Big Sky’, Picea pungens ‘Skyfall’, and Pseudotsuga menziesii ‘Knock Out’!
About Picea engelmannii ‘Big Sky’: This Engelmann spruce broom was one of 7 specimens discovered and collected in Montana. We found the brooms on a road trip in October 2014 to attend a friend’s wedding. No great vacation is complete without finding at least one broom!
Mike returned in February 2015 to harvest scions.
See all the cute little cones that had fallen from the Engelmann spruce tree on to the ground!
The long trip was worth it! 8 years later, Picea engelmannii ‘Big Sky’ is a beautiful little globose cultivar with a nice growth pattern and colorful blue needles!
Hopefully the new cultivar “Big Sky’ some day will also produce cones like it’s parent!
About Picea glauca ‘Tillie’: This coniferous conifer broom was discovered while visiting Mike’s parents who live in Green Bay, Wisconsin. On a trip to Fleet Farm with his dad, the broom was spotted on a lonely mature White Spruce tree in a field across the street. Of course, Mike insisted on his dad making a U-turn to check it out!
It was quite easy to climb the tree, other than the rain, and much to our surprise, the Picea glauca broom hosted copious quantities of cones.
Fortunately, we were able to harvest scions and cones before the tree was removed. This new Picea glauca conifer cultivar was named after Mike’s mom, whose nickname is Tillie.
A few of the seeds were germinated and produced 4 ‘Tillie’ seedlings, and they were named after her 4 children. After several years of growth, the seedlings from the broom are globose with tight compact growth, and the foliage is somewhat similar to an Alberta spruce.
A new Meijer superstore now stands where the lonely tree once stood.
About Picea abies ‘Froghair’: This new miniature Norway spruce cultivar was found in Yakima Washington as a witches broom at the Fisher Golf Course near one of the greens! “Froghair” is the term used to describe the very short fringe of grass around the green. It also means “extremely fine and delicate”, and so we chose the name ‘Froghair’ due to the cultivar’s diminutive size and growth habit, along with the broom’s location on the golf course! Two other brooms were discovered in the same golf course, including one of our favorites, an Abies concolor, ‘Hoop-dee-doo‘!
About Picea engelmannii ‘Whitewater’: This majestic engelmann spruce was discovered towering over a riverbank, and remarkably, it is splashed with creamy white variegated branches. The coloration is intense with Spring push and the color fades slightly but not completely throughout the summer. By the following spring, last year’s growth has changed to green, just in time to provide contrast for the beautiful new flush of color!
This mature spruce tree, Picea engelmannii, towers above the lower tree canopy, making it challenging to photograph close ups and to retrieve cuttings! The tree was discovered about 5 years ago.
Finally in November 2020, we were able to retrieve some scions of ‘Whitewater’ during the beginning of the first major mountain snowstorm of the winter season. If we were unsuccessful on harvest day, this beautiful colorful spruce cultivar would have to wait yet another year or more!
We are very hopeful that our grafts will take, since this is not the optimal time to harvest or graft Picea cultivars!
Picea sitchensis ‘Cliff Hanger’ is a new cultivar from a very compact Sitka spruce broom that was discovered on a tree that was undermined and hanging on the edge of a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The broom was discovered in late January 2019 during a long weekend vacation in Newport, Oregon. Our vacations always ultimately turn into broom hunting expeditions. We arrived at the hotel at dusk, with just enough time for a quick walk on the beach! And instead of looking at the ocean, Mike was looking at the Sitka spruce trees on the edge of the bluff. Mike spotted a dark blob of dead wood and said “I bet that’s a broom”. Sure enough, the next morning, not only a broom, but a Sitka broom, with beautiful tiny healthy clusters of growth mixed in with the broom’s gnarly dead wood. The owners of the property were delighted and kindly allowed us to harvest some of the branches. They had never noticed the broom (outside of their picture window and deck) before we pointed it out to them! The broom is ancient looking, like it has been growing for many years. There were numerous clustered buds and the growth rate on the broom was less than 1/2 inch. We did not want to spoil the appearance of their newly discovered treasure, and it was quite warm, in the 60’s, so we took only a few scions. The scion wood seemed dry and we were surprised that nearly all of the grafts pushed beautifully! The new cultivar is named Picea sitchensis ‘Cliff Hanger’!
Picea engelmannii ‘Shrunken Treasure’ is a dwarf Engelmann spruce tree found in the Pacific Northwest. It was first discovered while hiking in the lower elevations of Washington’s Cascade Mountains in 2015! It has not changed much in 4 years, still about 5 feet tall. The area is populated by mostly Pinus contorta and Picea engelmannii with a typical growth rate for the species! During our last visit in early November 2019, we took cuttings for grafting and sent some scions to others. This dwarf Engelmann spruce has pleasing shades of blue and green! Hopefully the scions take, and if so, Picea engelmannii ‘Shrunken Treasure’ will be a beautiful small specimen, especially when part of a landscaped alpine garden.
This black spruce broom Picea mariana ‘Sand River’ was discovered while maneuvering through a bog to harvest Picea mariana ‘MinneHaHa’! This broom had numerous small cones. Seeds from the broom cones were germinated and we saved the seedlings that exhibited a miniature growth rate. The broom scions also grafted well! One of the ‘Sand River’ specimens is on display at the beautiful Oregon Garden arboretum in Silverton.
This black spruce broom with tiny needles and a miniature growth rate was the first Picea mariana broom that we discovered. This tiny broom was located in a wetlands bog in Upper Michigan along the shore of Lake Superior near Marquette Michigan. It was so small that it was difficult to graft and we have only a few surviving specimens. Since it was along the Shores of Gitche Gumee (Lake Superior) near Hiawatha National Forest, and because of it’s miniature size, we named this cultivar ‘MinneHaHa’!