The Larch, Larix europaea, is hardly worth planting as an ornamental tree for the garden, although useful for its tall, straight timber. A Japanese species named leptolepis is found to grow faster than the common Larch.
The genus Picea gives us, as we have already seen, the Spruce Firs. Two of the pitfalls alluded to in connection with nomenclature occur in connection with this genus and that of Abies. The nurseryman has a tree which he calls Abies Smithiana. He may also have one called Abies Morinda. These are both the same as the botanist's Picea morinda. It is a beautiful species from the Himalayas, and is not only handsome but very hardy, so that it may be planted for shelter. The Japanese species Alcockiana and Maximowiczii are ornamental.
The garden forms of excelsa, the Norway Spruce, comprise several very prettily tinted trees, well suited for a bed or border of mixed evergreens. Argenteo-spica, Clanbrassiliana (good for rock gardens) aurea, diffusa, pygmaea, dumosa and compacta are cases in point.
The species pungens, the Rocky Mountains Blue Spruce, often listed as Abies pungens, is very handsome and distinct, and has several garden forms, such as glauca, argentea and pendula.
Picea polita is a handsome Japanese Fir. Omorica is a Balkan species with flat leaves.
The genus Pinus gives us fewer garden subjects than the Picea, nevertheless it is by no means without use. In large places the Stone Pine (Pinea); the Weymouth Pine (Strobus) and such species as ponderosa, Pinaster, montana, Laricio, insignis, excelsa, Cembra, Lamber-tiana, and monticolor may be planted. Where large tracts are to be planted in heathy districts, on peat soil, the Scotch Fir (P. sylvestris) will prove its value. This tree is very common in parts of Surrey. There are few better known Pines than the Austrian (austriaca), which thrives on chalky land, and is very hardy. It should not be planted in large groups except for shelter, or it will give a gloomy aspect to the surroundings. The Corsican Pine (Laricio) is a hardy forest tree, and is not much planted in gardens; but there are some useful garden forms of it, such as pygmaea, which is of compact, shrubby habit. A new Chinese species called Armandii belongs to the Cembra section; it has yellow bark.
The genus Pseudostuga gives us the Douglas Fir, which is often grown in the nurseries under the name of Abies Douglasii. It is a handsome tree and should be considered one of the best Conifers for garden planting. Beautiful specimens develop with shelter on deep loamy soils. There are drooping (pendula) and glaucous (glauca) forms of it, in addition to others that the tree-lover may meet with in the nurseries and botanic gardens.
Sequoia or Wellingtonia gives us, in the species gigantea, one of our best Conifers.
This is the tree which attains to such enormous dimensions in California. It becomes a noble and beautiful tree in gardens, when given a sheltered place, fertile soil and plenty of room. Silvery, gold-tinted and drooping forms are grown in the nurseries. Although sempervirens, the Red Wood, is much less familiar than gigantea it is equally ornamental and horticultural forms are available; alba-spica (white-tipped) is very pretty.
The genus Taxus gives us the familiar Yew (T. baccata) regarded in olden times as the peculiar ornament for churchyards. The common species is generally left to that habitat, unless it is wanted as an inner garden hedge, the Yews planted in gardens as specimen trees being selected from tinted forms such as Washingtoni and Dovastoni. The former has a yellow tint. The drooping form, gracilis pendula, may also be planted. The Irish Yew is a pyramidal form of the common called fastigiata, and there is a yellow form of this. There is an interesting yellow-fruited Yew named fructu-luteo.
Fig. The Golden Japanese Juniper. Juniperus japonica aurea. For description see Chapter 17. Photo by R. A. Malby.
In the ranks of the Thujas we find those popular Conifers, the Arbor-vitaes. The American Arbor-vitae, or White Cedar, T. occidentalis, is perhaps the best known, although the Eastern, T. orientale (syn. Biota orientalis) which comes from China and Japan, is also familiar. A more ornamental kind than either is T. dolabrata, from Japan; it makes a nice small lawn tree, and its form variegata is well suited to the same purpose. There are many garden forms of the Arbor-vitaes, of the American there are silver-variegated and yellow variegated, drooping (pendula), dwarf (nana), and so forth. Similar forms of the Chinese are also met with in the nurseries, filiformis, aurea and elegantissima are beautiful little plants. The large species gigantea is worth mentioning; it is the same as the nursery treeT. Lobbii; aurea and pyramidalis are forms of it.
The genus Tsuga is almost ignored by nurserymen, most of whom call its best species, Mertensiana, Abies Albertiana or Abies Mertensiana. Again, T. canadensis, the Hemlock Spruce, is often listed by dealers under the name Abies canadensis. There are several garden forms of this popular tree, including a white-tipped, a dwarf, and a drooping variety. T. Hookeriana, T. Pattoniana, and T. Sieboldii are sometimes met with.
While the foregoing lists include the most important of the Conifers, they exclude several interesting plants to which a brief reference may be made. There are, for example, Athrotaxis cupressoides, the Tasmanian Cypress; the Cephalotaxuses, of which drupacea and Fortunei are perhaps the best known; Cunninghamia sinensis; Dacrydium Franklini, Libocedrus decurrens, a handsome and distinct American Conifer; the Podocarpuses; Prumnopitys elegans, the Chilian Plum-fruited Yew; Pseudolarix Kaempferi, the Chinese Golden Larch; Saxe-Gothaea conspicua, Sciadopitys verticillata, the Japanese Umbrella Pine; Taxodium distichum, the American Deciduous Cypress, which is good for the waterside; there is a drooping form of it; and the Torreyas.
Athrotaxis cupressoides is not quite hardy.
Sciadopitys verticillata is one of the most beautiful of the less familiar Conifers, and should be planted more. When frequently transplanted in the nurseries, while young, it will form a fibrous root system and bear shifting when of large size. Its fine leaves are borne in large bunches.
The smaller Conifers, such as the forms of Cupressus Lawsoniana and Thuja orientalis, the Irish Yew, the Retinosporas, the Cryptomerias, and the garden forms of Picea excelsa and P. pungens, are suitable for the smallest borders and even for window boxes in winter. They are beautiful in a very small state, and grow slowly except when planted in very rich soil.