Skylands Oriental SprucePicea orientalis 'Skylands'
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Picea orientalis 'Skylands'
Outdoor Growing zone
The Skylands Oriental Spruce is a specimen evergreen of great beauty. It has a pyramidal form, with wide branches that sweep outwards with pendulous tips. The new growth is brilliant yellow, maturing to a rich gold, and eventually turning green deeper inside, making the yellow outer branches look even more striking. It is fast-growing, reaching between 15 and 25 feet tall, with a spread to 15 feet, and it makes the perfect unique lawn specimen for any yard.
Full sun will give the best coloring on your Skylands Oriental Spruce, which grows in any well-drained soil just as easily as any spruce tree. It has no serious pests or diseases and it is deer resistant as well. Some burning of needles in summer sunlight can be seen when the tree is young, but stops as it develops. No trimming is needed, or desirable, but keep the central stem to a single branch for good trunk development.
Sometimes it seems every lawn comes complete with a blue spruce. Yes, attractive lawn specimens are great assets, and yes, symmetrical conifers are beautiful, but why the ‘same old, same old?’ It’s not as if there are no choices, because there are many beautiful evergreens to choose from that are as easy to grow. If you are going to plant a tree as a feature, make it a unique and special one, not what everyone else has. The Skylands Oriental Spruce is certainly ‘unique and special’, and it is so very beautiful too – a beauty that only grows and grows along with this fast-growing tree. Some unique trees are painfully slow to develop, but not this one. You can expect 12 to 18 inches of growth each year while it is young and well-established and before you can turn around you will have a beautiful, glowing, golden tree gracing your lawn or filling a corner of your yard. That’s right – what makes the Skyland Oriental Spruce unique is the brilliant yellow new leaves that turn to gold as they mature, staying that way until next year’s new leaves appear. A golden wonder in your own yard – how beautiful and special is that?
The Skylands Oriental Spruce is an upright evergreen tree with a single central stem and radiating horizontal branches, forming a beautiful pyramidal specimen. It grows 12 to 18 inches a year, reaching about 15 feet tall and 5 feet wide within 10 years. It will mature to a height more like 25 feet and keep growing a little larger each year, forever. Allow about 15 feet for the mature spread, so plant at least 10 feet away from any obstructions like a building or fence. Don’t plant beneath overhead wires or overhanging trees. The branches stay right to the ground for many years, but when you can see the bark you will discover it is pinkish-gray, maturing into attractive rounded plates. The needles are short – about one-third of an inch long, but they are densely packed around the stems, making for a beautiful look. New spring growth is a brilliant bright yellow – a real knock-out color that looks fantastic. As the needles mature they turn more golden, but still striking, and this tree looks golden-yellow all year round, without turning green in summer or winter. As it grows the branches deeper inside turn more green, but that only deepens the impact, by making the gold stand out against the darker green interior – a truly lovely sight that will soon be stopping traffic. The smaller branches tend to become pendulous on mature tree, giving a wonderful graceful look to this tree.
Cones are produced from a relatively early age, of two kinds. The pollen cones are small but bright red, and really stand out against the gold. The seed cones grow to about 4 inches long, and hang singly or in pairs. They are an amazing purple color all summer, turning brown as they mature in the fall. The prolific cone production adds greatly to the beauty of this outstanding tree.
A tree of this beauty deserves a prominent place, so plant it on a lawn, in the corner of your yard, or at the sunny edge of a woodland. Plant it where you can see it from a window to admire through winter, and of course allow plenty of room for it to grow symmetrically and free of obstructions.
The Skylands Oriental Spruce is very cold resistant, and it grows well in zone 4 and all cool areas. It will also grow all the way into zone 8, so it can be planted in most American gardens.
For good color development, a place in full sun is best. Try to make the south-facing side the one you see most, as this will be the most golden side of the tree. This tree is as easy to grow as any spruce tree, and it will thrive in just about any well-drained soil, including clay and rougher ground. Younger trees will love a deep soaking during dry weather, but established trees have pretty good drought resistance.
Pests and diseases are not normally problems and this tree is deer resistant as well. The needles of young trees can be burned by intense summer sun, but this stops as the roots develop and the tree starts to mature. You can reduce or eliminate this by paying attention to watering, and providing your young tree with some shade, perhaps from a large beach umbrella, during the hottest days for the first few years. Trimming is not needed, and plant so that you don’t have to remove the lower branches – let them sweep outwards in their full beauty. Once your tree is growing well, check that it has just one central growing stem – not two. These ‘double leaders’ can cause splitting problems in the future, so if you see one, cut back the more outward-facing branch by about two-thirds, to allow just one stem to make the central trunk of your tree.
You will find the Oriental spruce, Picea orientalis, growing in the Caucasus mountains, which lie between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, with this species concentrated from southern Georgia into northern Turkey. These areas to the east of Europe were once called ‘the Orient’, which is why this tree has the name it does. It is also sometimes called Caucasian Spruce, and it has been grown as a garden tree for a long time.
The unique golden variety called ‘Skylands’ was found in 1950 by chance, as a random seedling tree growing in the gardens of Skylands Manor. Surrounding the 44-room mansion, the gardens, which became part of the New Jersey Botanical Gardens, were created by a lawyer called Francis Lynde Stetson at the beginning of the 20th century. It is sometimes also listed as ‘Aurea Compacta.’
Trees of this great beauty and rareness are sought after, and collectors constantly seek them out. So we know that our stock will go soon. If you want something very special then order this wonderful tree right now, because they won’t be here for long.