Botanist's Lens: Winter Blues!
Today, instead of the usual winter blues that one can get as the grey clouds cover and the colder crisper air crawls in, we will be looking at the ‘Winter Blues’ of the garden world that can bring cheer to any landscape.
London Town's gardens has an excellent mix of conifers including, giant Metasequoias, Yews, White Pines, Bald Cypress, Hanoki Cypress, Atlas Cedar, Larix and many more. Some of the striking 'Winter Blues' are found in foliage of Atlas Cedar, Larix and Juniper sps.
Also, any 'Blues' in the garden won't be complete without a mention of the blue lichens. Even though it is not a plant form, I have to mention the blue-green algae for its exquisite turquoise color that is quite striking even in a deciduous barren garden.
Atlas Cedar: Cedar trees can live longer than 200 years and get up to 50-60 ft. tall. They thrive in zone 6-9. Atlas Cedars have blue foliage, but it is even more striking in winter with everything else on a shade of brown. “The Cedrus genus was formerly considered to include four species, but it has been reduced to two, C. deodara of the Himalayas and C. libani (Cedar of Lebanon) of the Mediterranean. C. atlantica, the most common species used in landscaping is now considered to be a subspecies of C. libani (i.e., C. libani ssp. atlantica)” (https://landscapeplants.oregonstate.edu/plants/cedrus-atlantica-glauca)
Larix kaempferi: commonly called as the Japanese Larch. There are many varieties in the trade, from sturdy to weeping. In late summer, the plant has a more yellow form with needles dropping, but its true blue shines in winter. "Genus name is the classical name for larch trees. Specific epithet honors Engelbert Kaempfer (1651-1716), German botanist and plant collector who visited Japan in the late 1600s". (http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=285017&)
Juniper horizontals: a creeping from of Juniper, excellent as a ground cover. "Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Adapts to a wide range of soils, but prefers a dryish, sandy soil. Tolerates hot, relatively dry growing conditions. Intolerant of wet soils" (https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=249867&isprofile=0&)
Blue lichens: a perfect example of mutualism, is a partnership between fungal hyphae and blue algae. The algae has the beautiful green-blue pigments that are quite striking on barks.
Did you know that blue is a ‘rare’ color in nature, in both plants and animals? Amongst flowers, blue is one of the rarest colors and is seen in less than 10% of the 280,000 flowering plants. And guess what? blue is even more rare in foliage. So treasure your 'Blues' if you have some in your gardens or come and enjoy the 'Winter Blues' at London Town. I am sure any garden 'Winter Blues' will add cheer to even the most dreary, cold crispy winter days.