Picea

About Picea engelmannii ‘Mountain Gold’: The Engelmann spruce parent tree was discovered while hiking on a trail in the Cascade Mountains of eastern Washington.

Beautiful new cultivar, Picea engelmannii ‘Mountain Gold’, June 2022
Picea engelmannii variegated tree branch
A branch from the variegated Picea engelmannii tree in the mountain

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!

close up variegated Engelmann spruce branch, parent tree
A close up of a branch from the variegated Engelmann spruce tree found in the wild
Picea engelmannii 'Mountain Gold' newly grafted cultivar
A new graft of Picea engelmannii ‘Mountain Gold’ showing off its color
Another grafted Picea engelmannii ‘Mountain Gold’, grafts well

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.

Picea

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’!

Engelmann spruce broom cultivar 'Blue Torch'
Picea engelmannii ‘Blue Torch’
Picea engelmannii broom
Engelmann spruce broom…
Engelmann spruce broom becomes a beautiful cultivar 'Blue Torch'
…becomes ‘Blue Torch’!
Picea engelmannii 'Blue Torch' cultivar growing nicely, thick growth, hardy, and beautiful blue!
‘Blue Torch’ growing!
Beautiful engelmann spruce new cultivar with thick dense luscious new growth
What a beauty!
'Blue Torch' in our Upper Peninsula, Michigan rock garden!
‘Blue Torch’ likes living in Michigan!
'Blue Torch' shows off it blue color nicely in the desert climate of Eastern Washington
‘Blue Torch’ likes it better in Washington!

Picea

Picea engelmannii ‘Big Sky’

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!

Engelmann spruce broom
Picea engelmannii ‘Big Sky’ broom

Mike returned in February 2015 to harvest scions.

Engelmann spruce broom scions.

Picea engelmannii ‘Big Sky’ scions

See all the cute little cones that had fallen from the Engelmann spruce tree on to the ground!

Picea engelmannii 'Big Sky' spring growth
Picea engelmannii ‘Big Sky’ with spring push

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!

Picea engelmannii 'Big Sky' with 6 years growth
Picea engelmannii ‘Big Sky’ with 6 years growth

Hopefully the new cultivar “Big Sky’ some day will also produce cones like it’s parent!

Picea

New White Spruce conifer cultivar 'Tillie'
Picea glauca ‘Tillie’

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!

Picea glauca broom 'Tillie'
White spruce tree hosting ‘Tillie’ the broom!

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.

'Tillie' produces numerous cones
Picea glauca “Tillie’ with numerous 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.

2 Tillies in 1
Tillie’s ‘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.

Picea glauca 'Tillie' seedlings!
Tillie and her 4 tykes!

A new Meijer superstore now stands where the lonely tree once stood.

Picea

Picea abies 'Froghair', a 7 year old specimen!
Picea abies ‘Froghair’, 7 years old!

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‘!

Norway spruce tree broom 'Froghair'
Picea abies ‘Froghair’ broom, au naturel
Picea abies 'Froghair' with tiny growth pattern
Picea abies ‘Froghair’ showing tiny growth pattern

Picea

Engelmann spruce branch with intense variegated growth.
Spring push!

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!

Mature Picea engelmannii spruce tree showing off splashes of creamy-white new growth.
Picea engelmannii ‘Whitewater’ mature tree sporting beautiful variegated branches!

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.

Newly harvested variegated branch of engelmann spruce 'Whitewater'
Close up view of a newly harvested lower branch, ‘Whitewater’!

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!

Newly grafted Picea engelmannii 'Whitewater'
Picea engelmannii ‘Whitewater’ newly grafted cultivar

We are very hopeful that our grafts will take, since this is not the optimal time to harvest or graft Picea cultivars!

Picea engelmannii 'Whitewater' new cultivar
Picea engelmannii ‘Whitewater’
Variegated engelmann spruce 'Whitewater' scion freshly grafted.
Picea engelmannii ‘Whitewater’

Picea

Sitka spruce cultivar, bicolored
Picea sitchensis ‘Cliff Hanger’, 3 year old graft, April 2022, lots of buds!
Some healthy scions left on this ancient appearing Sitka spruce broom.
Beautiful & healthy scions on this Picea sitchensis broom

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’!

“Is that a broom? Up on the bluff?!”
Harvest time!  Picea sitchensis 'Cliff Hanger'
Mike is eagerly harvesting some healthy branches of scion wood on this ancient appearing broom
Close up of ancient appearing Picea sitchensis broom with some healthy growth remaining.
Fortunately some of the Sitka spruce broom is still alive and healthy!
nice new growth on Sitka spruce graft 'Cliff Hanger'
Picea sitchensis ‘Cliff Hanger’, first push!
2 year old graft of new Sitka spruce cultivar 'Cliff Hanger'
Picea sitchensis ‘Cliff Hanger’, 2 year old graft, spring push

Picea

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.

Nice color, small needles and growth pattern on this Engelmann spruce tree
Nice color, small needles and growth pattern on this Engelmann spruce tree found in the wild! ‘Shrunken Treasure’!
Engelmann spruce ‘Shrunken Treasure’, a dwarf chance seedling with small blue green needles and a slow growth rate!
Picea engelmannii ‘Shrunken Treasure’, a dwarf chance seedling occurring in the wild!

Picea

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.

Picea mariana 'Sand River' broom
Picea mariana ‘Sand River’ broom
Close up of black spruce broom 'Sand River'.
Close up of black spruce broom ‘Sand River’ showing small growth rate.
Picea mariana 'Sand River' cultivar on display at the Oregon Garden Arboretum.
Picea mariana ‘Sand River’ cultivar on display in the Davison collection at the Oregon Garden Arboretum.

Picea

7 summers of growth, Picea mariana 'MinneHaHa'
Picea mariana ‘MinneHaHa’ graft, 7th summer, understock still attached!

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’!

Tiny scions of black spruce broom 'MinneHaHa'
Tiny scions from Picea mariana ‘MinneHaHa’ in February 2014
Tiny graft of miniature cultivar Picea mariana 'MinneHaHa'
Picea mariana ‘MinneHaHa’ graft