‘Fast-growing’ is not a description often given to pine trees, which can take many years to reach the full beauty of their maturity. Sometimes, however, nature gives us a hand, and sends us a pine that is not only fast-growing, but beautiful, tough, hardy and resistant to pests, diseases, and deer. Vanderwolf’s Pyramid Limber Pine is that tree. As the name suggests, it develops into an attractive pyramid of branches, wrapped in twisted bundles of blue-green needles, with a rugged but garden-worthy beauty. With remarkably vigorous growth of up to 18 inches a year, a substantial, 15-foot specimen will be yours in less than 10 years. By that time, it will also be garlanded in fall and winter with large, 8-inch long cones, which can be collected to decorate your home, and which will last for years without disintegrating.
Vanderwolf’s Pyramid Limber Pine makes a great specimen tree for lawns or beds, as well as an attractive addition to your tree and shrub beds. It looks attractive growing among rocks and gravel, and it can also be turned into a dramatic bonsai tree with some simple training. Such a versatile tree deserves to be in many more gardens, but its very rarity gives it the extra bonus of being novel and probably unique in your neighborhood. The smart gardener uses unusual but easily grown and low maintenance plants to give their garden a unique atmosphere and charm. There is no more work involved in growing the unusual rather than the everyday, and this tree is the perfect example of that.
The limber pine, Pinus flexilis, is one of the North American ‘white pines’, so called for the pale bark on their young branches. They are also called ‘5-needle pines’, because the needles are in bundles of 5 on the stems. It grows at moderate to high altitudes all through the Rocky Mountains, from Canada to New Mexico. This tough tree can be seen in dry, rocky soil high in the mountains, twisted and stunted by severe weather. No matter how tough your garden is, this tree will perform well in it. This tree is called limber pine because the branches are very flexible and can be bent without snapping.
Vanderwolf’s Pyramid is different from the wild tree in several ways. It has a more compact habit, with denser branches. Its needles are twisted in interesting ways, and a strong blue-green color, adding an extra level of beauty to the tree. It is also more pyramidal in shape than wild trees, as can be understood from its name. It was found growing in a field of seedling limber pine trees at the George Bloomer Nursery, in Flemington, New Jersey. The person who found it – Rein Vanderwolf – was the head propagator for the Vermeulen & Son Nursery, Neshanic Station, Branchburg, New Jersey, just 10 miles away. He took some stem pieces from the tree, and back at his nursery he attached them to roots of seedling limber pine trees. When he saw the fast growth and attractive form of this tree, he knew that this was something special that should be made available to gardeners everywhere. It was registered and released by the nursery in 1972. Because of its vigorous growth and robust health, and some of its physical features, it is possible that this tree is in fact a hybrid between limber pine and the closely-related eastern white pine, Pinus strobus.
Plant your Vanderwolf’s Pyramid Limber Pine in a sunny location in any well-drained soil. When young, regular water and some fertilizer will give you the maximum possible growth, but once established your tree will be drought-resistant and need no care, as it is resistant to pests and diseases too. It grows well in cold areas and it is hardy to minus 30 degrees. It grows best in cooler areas and it does not do well in very hot and humid regions. When planting, do not disturb the roots, as this tree does not like being moved with the roots bare.
To develop the densest form, ‘candle’ your young tree. Each spring you will see the new shoots emerging as tight stems with tiny needles along them. These are called ‘candles’. Before the needles begin to expand and grow, pinch an inch or two from the end of the candles. This will make the tree develop several buds at the end of each shoot, instead of just one or two. The tree will grow denser and bushier, with more shoots and a more attractive appearance. Once your tree is larger this is no longer necessary, although you can continue to do this simple job for as long as you want.
Here at the Tree Center we try to bring you unusual and interesting plants, not the common things you can buy anywhere. As a result, our stock is always being depleted by eager collectors. To have this rapid-growing and attractive pine tree in your own garden, order now, while stocks last.