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Monday, May 03, 2004

Pining for pines 

I was looking through some of my gardening books the other day and came across a diagram I had made of our backyard when we lived in Baltimore. The list contained 73 plants growing in the outside beds, 29 on the hill surrounding the fish pond, and another 17 in the little shade garden created in the side yard. 119 plants in total comprised of bulbs, perennials, trees and shrubs not including the various annuals added every year! It reminded me of what a gorgeous garden we had and how nice it would be if some of these plants would grow well here in Florida.

I thought of the numerous trips we made to Valley View Farms in Cockeysville and Maxalea Nursery in Stoneleigh to find just the right plants for just the right places. Each year we would also attend the plant sale held at Cylburn Arboretum and that’s how we got some very interesting trees. Two immediately come to mind – the Torulosa Pine and the Dragon’s Eye Pine. I remember when we first saw the Torulosa on the grounds of Cylburn. I fell in love with the blue color of the needles and their soft texture. The beauty of the Torulosa, or Pinus strobus torulosa, is that the needles are twisted so the shape highlights its gorgeous color. I coveted that tree and finally, when I got one of my own, would make a point of stroking its elegant needles every chance I got.

The Dragon’s Eye Pine, or Pinus densiflora ‘Oculis Draconis’, has yellow and green-banded needles with blue cones. Apparently the name is derived from the fact that when the shoot is seen from the tip, the alternate whitish-yellow and green rings are supposed to suggest a dragon’s eye. Take a look at the picture and see if you can make out the eye.

Anyway, as you can tell I’m a huge fan of pine trees. Here in Pinellas County (in long ago times known as Point of Pines) I’ve landed in the right place. We have a few pine trees on our property, but I intend to add many more. Of course I’ll have to check to see what will grow best here, but I’m really hoping I can find a blue or yellow variety or two that will happily survive.

I’ll tell you more about the plants on this list at another time. Happy Gardening and if you see an unusual pine, think of me.

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Thanks to Andrew Stenning who contributed the photograph for our masthead

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