There are several upright evergreens that make perfect lawn specimens, or look striking among other trees and large shrubs in the backdrop of your garden. Often gardeners choose the classic blue spruce for this, but there are some superior choices, and when it comes to unique beauty, few trees can beat the Golden Spanish Fir. Many evergreen specimen trees grow best in cooler areas, but here is a tree that thrives in warmer regions. It is a unique and striking specimen, rarely seen in gardens, and at the Tree Center we are thrilled to have found a supply of this special tree. Unique and rare it may be, but hard to grow it is not. It will grow in a wide variety of conditions, and requires no special care, yet it is rarely available at garden centers and nurseries.
The Golden Spanish Fir forms an upright, narrow conical tree around 15 feet tall, gradually growing taller and perhaps eventually reaching 25 or even 30 feet. It remains narrow and is only ever 8 to 10 feet wide at the most. It has a strong central trunk, with side branches that are almost horizontal and smaller branches that curve slightly downwards when mature. Each branch is completely circled with stiff needles about ¾ inch long. What makes this tree so special and exciting goes beyond its graceful but powerful form. Every spring the red new buds expand and show beautiful golden yellow needles. This beautiful color is mostly on the upper surface of each needle, and persists well through spring, summer and fall. In colder areas, the needles may turn green over winter, but in milder places they keep their golden color all year round. Sometimes the color is almost white, making the tree look, as one gardener put it, ‘frosted with buttercream’.
Imagine how beautiful this golden tree will look rising gracefully from your lawn. Think of the lovely compliment it will make with other plants, especially those with blue or silver foliage. This truly is a one-off tree that is very special, highly valued by knowledgeable gardeners, yet easy to grow, and available right now.
The Spanish fir, Abies pinsapo, is the national tree of Andalusia and it grows wild in southern Spain and northern Morocco. It is usually found in mountainous regions, so it is adapted to cooler areas than we might think, coming from hot countries. It will grow with winter temperatures down to minus 10 degrees, so it is hardy across a wide sweep of the country, from the southern parts of the Great Lakes to Georgia and across to Colorado, northern California and Oregon. It grows best in areas with good rainfall, and although drought tolerant when established it is not a good choice for areas that are extremely hot and dry in summer.
The golden form of this tree was found in 1868 by the notable French nurseryman and botanist Adrien Sénéclauze, at his famous conifer nursery in Bourg-Argental, central France. It has always been considered an especially fine tree, but it is rarely available and usually seen only in the gardens of specialists. At the Tree Center, we have been able to obtain a limited number of specimens which we are proud to offer to our clients. This is no ordinary fir tree, and cheap seedling fir trees will never have its unique appearance.
Plant your Golden Spanish Fir in a sunny or partially-shaded area. Light shade will maintain the golden color at its strongest, especially if that shade is in the afternoon. This tree is easily grown in any garden soil, but it prefers acid soils, and grows best in moist but well-drained soil. Water it well regularly for the first few growing seasons, until it becomes established. It will grow steadily at about 6 inches a year. The only special care needed is to watch that only one central stem develops. If you see two central stems of about the same height, remove the weaker one to keep a single stem, for the best appearance of your tree.
The Golden Spanish Fir is a very special tree, rarely available to the public and yet easy to grow and extremely attractive. If you want something very special in your garden, then this is it. We expect high demand from knowledgeable gardeners, so order now while trees from our limited stock are still available.