Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today

 
 

NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.

 
 
 
 

NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.

 
 
 
 

New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.

 
 
 
 

Plant Profiles

Korean pine

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The needles of Korean pines aren't bluish-green, they're blue and green.  Pinus koraiensis 'Silveray' adds a narrow profile and a medium height; it's a cool pine year-round. 

 

In the picture below, the colorful needles are even more engaging.  There's variety in their orientation, too, with each individual needle setting its own trajectory.

 

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'Silveray' achieves all this diversity with great economy.  It doesn't need separate green needles and blue needles; each needle is green on one side and blue on the other.  Add a bit of curve and twist, and the bicolor show is displayed at equal strength in all directions.

 

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The needles are in groups of five.  In this group, the blue side of one needle is facing away from us; the blue of another is facing to the left, another to the right, and two more to the front.  All angles are covered.

 

 

Here's how to grow this unique pine:

Latin Name

Pinus koraiensis 'Silveray'

Common Name

Silveray Korean pine

Family

Pinaceae, the Pine family.

What kind of plant is it?

Evergreen coniferous tree.

Hardiness

This pine is hardy!  Zone 3 if growing with impeccable drainage and some shelter, up to a comparatively balmy Zone 7.

Habit

Single-trunked and narrowly pyramidal, with loose and fluffy growth to the ground, and branches thickly foliaged with two-toned needles.

Rate of Growth

Medium. 

Size in ten years

Six to ten feet tall and three to five feet wide.  Potentially to fifteen to twenty feet tall, and five to seven feet wide at the ground. 

Texture

Fluffy.

Grown for

its foliage.  The needles are in groups of five; one side of each needle is green, the other steel-blue.  The needles have a slight twist to them, and show both colors show from all sides.  Overall, 'Silveray' foliage has an upright and fashion-forward look, as if the tree comes naturally by the tousled spikiness that human urbanites can only achieve by putting "product" in their hair.

 

its habit.  'Silveray' has a small foot-print, an unusually narrow profile, and only modest height.  It casts only brief shade on its neighbors. 

its hardiness.  Pinus koraiensis is the conifer to plant if you're gardening in Montana, the upper peninsula of Michigan, or Newfoundland.  Or if you're gardening in containers on a terrace atop a high building in Chicago or Minneapolis.  It thrives as far South as the mid-Atlantic, but is not happy farther South. 

Flowering season

Spring in mild climates.  The flowers are modestly showy, as are the cones.

Color combinations

The blue and green foliage suggests partners that celebrate pink or pale yellow with contrasts of burgundy.  My pair of 'Silveray' pines are in my Pink Borders.  Avoid planting near neighbors that celebrate deep yellow, orange, or red. 

Partner Plants

'Silveray' prefers to retain well-foliaged branches right to the ground—but can only do that when the tree gets full sun on all sides.  So partner plants that are nearby, let alone abutting, should either be low or of such filigreed growth that they don't block the sun. 

 

All conifers enjoy the contrast of neighboring plants with foliage that could be larger, shiny, or feathery and responsive to breezes.  'Silveray' may have a ruffly habit to its needles, but that's not to say that the tree itself is going to flutter in the breeze.  The mounding habit, large foliage, and big heads of pink flowers of the same R. yakushimanum cultivars that combine so well with Salix integra 'Hakuro-nishiki' would also bring exciting contrast to 'Silveray'.  But the rhododendron is as motionless as the pine. 

 

The intense purple foliage of 'Summer Wine' ninebark is thrilling, as is the easy flexibility of its long and eager growth.  Be sure it's not located so close that it casts the pine into shade.   

 

The best way to ensure that the solid verticality of 'Silveray' doesn't bring undue stiffness is to add perennials and ornamental grasses to keep things lively.  Fortunately, 'Silveray' is the rare pine that partners well with perennials, because its habit is orderly and narrow—and, most importantly, not "artistic" or "Japanesey," which would suggest a spare environment instead of a bountiful one.  Varieties of perennials with plentiful basal foliage are particularly congenial.  Go ahead, front 'Silveray' with with pink- or burgundy-flowered daylilies, or with any color—they're all pink or white—of Anemone japonica or A. vitifolia.  There are pink, rose, and grape-flowered cultivars of Monarda and Echinacea, too.  And for blue-friendly action in August and September, why not a large drift of peacock glads, Gladiolus murielae

 

Oriental hellebores would combine well as long as you site them on the shady side of the pine and its cohorts.  Their dusty flowers are usually in shades of white, pink, rose, and deep purple, and the pine's blue-green needles are carried on branches low enough to create close harmony with them.  And the hellebore's large foliage is itself a good contrast with those same needles.

 

Thalictrum would be the ultimate perennial partner.  Its tall stems are sparingly foliaged in lacy green and blue, and don't block the sun.  Its clouds of minute flowers are in white, pink, or pale yellow.  All its variants, at any height, would be sensational.

 

My 'Silveray' looks very jazzy arising from too many self-sown plants of purple-leaved Perilla frutescens.  I couldn't resist training one of the less-rambunctious climbing roses up into the pine: 'Clair Matin' blooms in pale pink, a natural with the pine's blue-green needles.  My priorities are to grow as many different plants as I can in only an acre and a half, so the urge for variety sometimes trumps propriety.               

Where to use it in your garden

'Silveray' is a striking vertical element, and needs siting where its distinctive shape and blue-green coloring will help confirm excitement that's already building.  It's not the plant to rescue an otherwise boring grouping of shrubs, or an otherwise miscellaneous configuration of bed and lawn and paving, amid which it would only look contrived.

 

Instead, use 'Silveray' to flank the entrance to a pathway, where the pine emphasizes the strong geometry that was already in place.  Or include 'Silveray' as the high spire of growth in an island bed or "promontory" that emerges into lawn from the background bed.  If you're blessed with stone ledge that also has large enough fissures for small trees, not just alpines, 'Silveray' could be the exclamation point that's needed.  The pine is so hardy that it revels in the full exposure to sun and sweeping winds.

 

Lastly, what about 'Silveray' spaced regularly along a drive or only a few feet back from the front of a long border?  You can keep all the members in such a line-up at the same shape and height, too; see "How to handle it: Another option—or two?" below.

Culture

Full sun.  Pinus koraiensis is unusually tolerant of different soils and less-than-perfect drainage.  I have a pair of 'Silveray', and they're both thriving in the heavy, wet soil of the Pink Borders.

How to handle it:  The Basics

Plant in Spring, providing sufficient water to establish the tree during its first Summer.  Pinus koraiensis is self-sufficient thereafter.   

How to handle it: Another option—or two?

'Silveray' is narrow already, but that doesn't mean you can't make it narrower still.  Growth is in whorls, with six or more shoots that are radial and one that continues the outward growth of the branch.  To control the tree's lateral spread, pinch off that outward portion in Spring, when it's young and soft, or cut if off in the Fall, when it's hardened to a true branch.  This pruning also causes the tree's growth to become denser with time, which gradually shifts its look from open and casual to concentrated and formal.

 

Don't forget that pine trees are not interested in producing green shoots from anywhere on a branch that has already lost its needles.  You can keep a 'Silveray' from getting wide, but you can't "re-skinny" a 'Silveray' that has already gotten wider. 

 

If you started when your 'Silveray' was young, and pinched and pruned for the life of the tree, you could (I suppose) produce a pine tree with the same pencil-thin profile of Italian cypresses.  Shucks:  Why didn't I think of this sooner?  My pair are nearly a decade old.

Quirks or special cases

None.

Downsides

None.

Variants

There aren't many; Pinus koraiensis is abstemious when it comes to cultivars, at least compared to Pinus strobus, Pinus mugo, or Pinus parviflora, each of which has dozens.  P. koraiensis 'Glauca' has needles that are blue top and bottom.  The needles of 'Winton' are green, but the plant is twice as wide as tall; it's the Mrs. Sprat to the Jack Sprat of 'Silveray'.

Availability

On-line and, sometimes, at retailers.

Propagation

By grafting; the straight species propagates well from seed.

Native habitat

Pinus koraiensis is, indeed, native to Korea, as well as Manchuria and the northern mountains of Japan.  

 

 
 
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