Does size matter? Sometimes, in my opinion. When I first saw Ron Dalrymple’s garden in southern Maine, I knew he was a kindred spirit because his garden is full of interesting trees and shrubs–not just interesting but also big. Near his driveway stand some doozies like an old silvery Korean fir (Abies koreana ‘Silberlocke’), two Hinoki cypresses (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Crippsii’ and ‘Reis Dwarf’) and a couple of 20-foot Japanese umbrella pines (Sciadopitys verticillata), quite impressive compared with my Sciadopitys, planted about 15 years ago and roughly 8-10 feet tall. His Chamaecyparis ‘Reis Dwarf’ rises above the eaves of his house.
But good trees come in small sizes too, and his weeping Skylands Oriental spruce is a charmer about 30 inches high. He grows it in a woodland area of his garden, where it’s protected from late spring frosts and harsh winter winds. This tree is a slow-growing, droopy version of the gold-tipped upright Picea orientalis ‘Skylands’. Weeping Skylands is a rare conifer. Some of Ron’s other distinctive plants include a ginkgo with yellow variegation (G. biloba) and an Eastern hemlock cultivar with congested foliage (Tsuga canadensis). Nowadays, you can find plants like Japanese umbrella pine, Silberlocke Korean fir, and Cripps Hinoki cypress in nurseries with an affluent clientele, so they’re not as unusual in northern New England home gardens as they were when Ron planted his trees. But Ron’s trees have the allure of maturity. He’s had them for years; he even dug them up and trucked them to a new house a few years ago. I can see how my trees will look years from now, and I like it.