Conifers for Color
Abies nordmanniana (Nordmann Fir) Pinus koraiensis (Korean Pine) Sequoiadendron giganteum (Giant Sequoia) Juniperus scopulorum (Rocky MountainJuniper) Picea pungens glauca (Colorado Blue Spruce)
Pinus sylvestris ‘Austrian Hills’ (Scotch Pine Austrian Strain)
Juniperus virginiana (Eastern Red Cedar)

For truly multi-season color, conifers are a sure bet. Evergreen or deciduous, this group of plants provides full color to the landscape.

Color is one of the most powerful components in landscape design and natural settings. Though individuals respond differently to colors, there are some general trends in response. Blue is connected with calmness and serenity. In fact, studies have found that blue surroundings actual can lower blood pressure, and that people are more productive in blue rooms. Perhaps this is related to our natural environment of blue sky and blue water. Though blue flowers are unusual, conifers can provide a serene blue the surroundings either as a focal point or a background to balance small dashes of energy from other colors of yellows to reds. Good choices of blue foliage are Picea pungens glauca (Colorado Blue Spruce) and its cultivars, Picea englemannii (Engelman Spruce), Juniperus scopulorum (Rocky Mountain Juniper) for foliage and berries, Pinus stobiformis (Southwestern White Pine), Abies concolor (White Fir).

The complementary color yellow is the most attention getting color. It energizes with the cheery warmth of sunshine. Its properties have been found to be fatiguing if used in large amounts so this is a color for focal points and dash rather than a background. Warm yellows and golds of fall or winter foliage bring a spot of sun into the cooler seasons. Deciduous fall gold is provided by a number of conifers including Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair Tree) and Larix species (Larch). For a touch of mid-winter sunshine there is Pinus sylvestris ‘Arctic’ (Scotch Pine Arctic Strain) that turns bright ornamental yellow in the winter returning to green in the growing season.

Purple is relatively unusual in nature. It gives an exotic tone that through history has been connected with royalty, wealth and wisdom. Purple accents for the landscape can be found in the male and female cones of Abies species (Fir), male cones of Pseudotsga menziesii (Douglas Fir), and the winter color of Juniperus virginana (Eastern Red Cedar).

And then there is green. At times, we in the nursery industry forget to consider green as a color in the landscape, but winter with its black, brown and white brings green into sharp focus.

Picea engelmannii (Engleman Spruce)
Larix occidentalis (Western Larch)
Juniperus virginiana (Eastern Red Cedar)
Green has a calming effect, relieving stress and increasing a sense of tranquility. Studies have even shown that reading ability improved when a green transparent film was placed over reading material. It is our great benefit in the nursery industry that the selection so many shades of green is there at our finger-tips. Conifers can provide the full range. Soft greens of spring are found in foliage the deciduous conifers Metasequioa glypotostroboidies (Dawn Redwwood), Taxodium distichum (Bald Cypress), Ginkgo and Larix. Bright greens abound in Pinus (Pines) and Abies (Firs). Deep greens and blue-greens are so common in Picea (Spruce) that spruce is often used as a color in the fashion industry. Even a landscape of all green has many shades and tones, but add a bit of red or yellow against a green coniferous background such as Pinus korensis (Korean Pine), and you have a landscape to delight the winter sense.
Conifers with a Difference
There are so many conifers to choose from landscape that the list can be overwhelming, but here is this year’s list of some of the highlights that may be less familiar. Different species than are commonly offered in the industry that you should consider from our inventory for this season include:
  • Abies firma – tolerant of southern heat, root rot resistance
  • Abies holophylla – glossy green park tree
  • Abies sachalinensis – beautifully ornamental, needs cool moist climate
  • Larix leptolepsis – highly ornamental with ornamental bark, bonsai or focal point
  • Pinus albicaulis – hardy to find native species
  • Pinus bungeana – one of best ornamental
  • Pinus cembra – small garden choice for slow growth and tight form
  • Pinus korensis – cold tolerant and deep green with dense form
  • Pinus leucodermis – compact dwarf for warm dry climates
  • Pinus puece – very narrow form for small spaces
  • Pinus pumila – extremely hardy (Zone 1) usually prostrate shrub
  • Pinus wallichiana – attractive long needled pine that maintains branching to the ground
Different sites suitable for these species widens their usefulness:
  • Abies concolor – heat and drought tolerant fir with blue color ornamental alternative to Colorado
  • Blue Spruce or can be used as a sheared hedge
  • Abies koreana – heat tolerant fir, Gold Medal winner for ornamental value, purple cones
  • Abies lasiocarpa – narrow form for small spaces in cooler climates
  • Picea omorika – narrow habit for small spaces, slow growing, heat tolerant, Gold Medal Winner for ornamental value
  • Sequoia giganteum – suitable for much smaller landscapes outside its native range due to naturally narrow and compact form

Conifers: Encrypted Success
Selecting the best age and grade of conifer for your planting needs.

Understanding what you will get when you order one grade of conifer versus another can be daunting given the options Lawyer Nursery provides. After all, our inventory can list plants in the ages of P-0, 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2, 2-3, 3-2, 3-3, P-1, P-2, P-3, P-4, G-2 and G-3. While these grades resemble a complex code, it is based on almost 50 years of on-going research; research in our 1 country of 6 regions holding 50 states and as many different growing locations as there are in numbers of theories into global warming.

We have developed this code to unlock your profitability. The selection of the grade you need is determined by your location, growing practices, and desired end product, as well as, cost efficiency for your operation.

Meaning: The initial number or letter indicates the years grown from seed (first number) in the field or from seed in the greenhouse (P). The number after the hyphen indicates the number of years grown once transplanted. Add up the numbers for the total age of the plant. What type of branching, caliper and root system you will get will depend on this code.

Seedlings. 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, P-0 Seedlings are our youngest and most economical stock. Seed is sown directly in the field (number first) and grown for the number of years indicated or in a plug tray (“P” first). While species require different stratification and/or seasonal sowing, Lawyer Nursery has continually refined our processes for maximum germination and development. This grade is then harvested at the desired development. Seedlings tend to be the easiest plants to send through a mechanical transplanter as they not have the bulk that transplants do. They have light branching on their tops, and their root systems are substantial for transplant success, but light enough to make planting them easy. The P-0 has been grown in the greenhouse for several months until it is well rooted in the container. Container sizes vary, but the range for the conifer is from 4.8-9.5 cubic inches. The plug is removed from the plug tray before shipping to reduce shipping costs.

Seed Source for Specialist Species

The below information lists the seed source and defining attributes for only species that increase in marketability with specific seed source selection. Lawyer Nursery offers additional species and seed sources that have general tolerances and adaptability and are listed in our publications catalog or online at
Botanical Name Common Name Zone Seed Source Noteworthy
Abies alba European Silver Fir
Yugoslavia Color; Upright form; Good needle retention
Abies balsamea Balsam Fir
Nova Scotia Cold hardy; Fragrance
Abies b. phaneroleis Caanan Fir
OH-Seed Orchard Cold hardy, Later bud break; Fragrance
Abies borissi-regis King Boris Fir
Macedonia Distinctive glossy foliage; Dense branching yet 1” needles
Abies bornmeulleriana Black Sea/Turkish Fir
Turkey, 5000ft Distinctive glossy foliage; Dense; Tolerates dry locations; Preferred for its low fragrance/allergy- inducing in Christmas tree industry; Strong branching
Abies cephalonica Greek Fir
Yugoslavia Distinctive glossy foliage; Dense; 1” needles; Distinctive med green
Abies chinensis European Silver Fir
Yugoslavia Narrow form; dark,glossy needles
Abies concolor White Fir
Lincoln N.F., NM Drought tolerant; Brilliant blue color in the harshest environments; No needle necrosis; Excellent needle retention; Transplants easily
Abies firma
Japanese Fir
China Phytopthera root rot resistant; Stately park tree
Abies fraseri Fraser Fir
Roan Mtn., NC/6400ft High elevation source that can grow in more locations than other Christmas tree/landscape firs; Strong branching; Good needle retention
Abies grandis Grand Fir
Sears Creek, Clearwater N.F., ID Lowest incidence of needle necrosis; Cold hardy; Easy to shape; Fragrant
Abies holophylla Manchurian Fir
China Glossy foliage; Cold hardier than Abies firma; New growth is an ornamental light green
Abies koreana Korean Fir
Korea Late bud break; Attractive color
Abies lasiocarpa Alpine/Sub Alpine Fir
San Isabel, N.F., CO Zone 502/11,000ft Drought tolerant; Green to darker blue form of Abies lasiocarpa arizonica; Narrow form for urban/small space use; Fragrant
Abies las. arizonica
Corkbark Fir/Blue Alpine Fir
Apache N.F., AZ Zone160/11,000ft Drought tolerant; Narrow form for urban/small space use; Fragrant: More heat tolerant than Abies lasiocarpa
Abies magnifica ‘Shastens’ Shasta Red Fir
Mt. Shasta, CA Zone 741/6500ft Bluish color; Layered branch appearance; Similar to Abies procera but not as finicky if enough moisture
Abies nordmannniana Nordmann Fir
Ambrolauria, N. Caucasus Mtns, Rep. of Georgia Distinctive glossy foliage; Preferred for its low fragrance/allergy-inducing in Christmas tree industry; Most cold hardy b/c of northern source; Greater consistency among trees from this northern region
Abies procera Noble Fir
Lincoln City, OR Zone 053 Most adaptability; Can withstand degrees of additional stressors where others cannot; Consistency in form and color
Abies sachalinensis Sachalin Fir
Japan Bright green foliage; Distinctive light gray to white bark
Picea breweriana Brewer’s Weeping Spruce
Olympia, WA Most other sources are Zone 6! Retains characteristics of pendulous branching but not as susceptible to low winter temps
Picea engelmannii
Engelman Spruce Engelman Spruce
Lolo N.F., MT/5000ft
Gunnison N.F., CO/10,000ft
Most north latitude; High elevation; Faster growingHighest elevation; Highest density
Picea glauca densata Black Hills Spruce
Black Hills N.F., SD Dense form; Green color; Cold hardy; Drought tolerant
Picea omorika Serbian Spruce
Slovenia Adaptable to high or low pH soils; Green color but with white under, rare in spruce
Picea pungens glauca Colorado Blue Spruce
Kaibab, N.F., AZ Zone 246/9000ft Slightly more drought tolerant; Needles more stiff; Variation in color to offer more “shiners” in crop;
Pinus albicaulis Whitebark Pine
Mt. Rose, CA/Zone 772 Cold hardy! Other seed sources list as a 4/5; Extraordinary white bark expressed early.
Pinus aristata Bristlecone Pine
San Isabel N.F., CO/9200ft Possibly a cold hardiness of 4B depending on site selection; Fragrant
Pinus banksiana
Jack Pine
Michigan Persevering plant; Cold hardy; Drought tolerant; Soil pH tolerant
Pinus leucodermis Bosnian Pine
Black Hills N.F., SD Dense form; Green color; Cold hardy; Drought tolerant
Pinus monticola Western White Pine
N. Idaho Seed Orchard Blister Rust resistant; Drought tolerant; Thrives in moist or dry soil; Less spreading than Pinus strobes.
Pinus ponderosa Western Yellow Pine /Ponderosa Pine
Kootenai N.F.. MT/3000t High elevation and northern most latitude provides greater transplant success
Pinus ponderosa scopulorum
Black Hills Ponderosa Pine
Black Hills N.F., SD/4000-5000ft High elevation, north latitude and eastern seed source proves greater drought tolerance and transplant success
Pinus strobiformis Southwestern White Pine
Apache N.F., AZ/Zone 052/11,000ft Extremely high elevation seed source offsets the lower latitude collection for this southwestern plant; Higher success rate at transplanting in northern climates; Drought tolerance
Pinus strobus Eastern White Pine
MI, MN, WI, NY Adaptable to high or low pH soils; Green color but with white under, rare in spruce
Pinus sylvestris ‘Artic’ Artic Scotch Pine
Russia Most cold hardy Scotch Pine; Larch-yellow in the fall/winter
Pinus sylvestris ‘Austrian Hills’ Austrian Hills Scotch Pine
Austria, Hungary Cold hardy; Drought tolerant; Holds green color in areas where other Scotch Pine may winter burn
Pinus sylvestris ‘Auvergne’ French Blue Scotch Pine
Massif Central, Haute, France Bluish cast; Cold hardy
Pinus wallichiana
Himilayan White Pine
India 6000-12,000ft Pendulous branches normally seen in Zone 6-8 specimens
Pseudotsuga menziesii West Coast Douglas Fir
West Coast Douglas Fir
Powell River, BC/Zone 042
Vancouver Island, BC
Northern source; Inland; Faster growth rate than ‘glauca’
Southern source, Coastal; Faster growth rate than ‘glauca’
Pseudotsuga menziesii ‘glauca’ Rocky Mountain Douglas Fir
Rocky Mountain Douglas Fir
Flathead N.F., MT/3000ft
Kaniksu NF, MT/3000ft
More eastern than Kaniksu N.F.; Darker green; Slightly more drought tolerant
More western than Flathead N.F.; Lighter green
Thuja plicata Giant Arborvitae or Western Red Cedar (Coastal)
Giant Arborvitae or Western Red Cedar (Interior)
King County, WA/Zone 412/1000ft Western MT Higher elevation than most sources; Transplants easily; Faster growth
Withstands early frosts in Fall, late frosts in Spring; Transplants easily
Tsuga heterophylla’ Western Hemlock (Coastal)
Western Hemlock (Interior)
Coastal WA Zone 030-05
Western MT, 3000ft
Fast growth; Transplants easily
Withstands early frosts in Fall, late frosts in Spring; Transplants easily

Transplants. 1-1, 2-1, 2-2, 2-3, 3-2, 3-3 Quantities of 1 year, 2 year or 3 year old seedlings are grown to accommodate the demand of customer needs and harvested for sale to supply those needs. Additional quantities are sown for our transplant program. These seedlings are harvested from the same crop as those for sale, but these are transplanted in the fields with wider in-row spacing for an additional 1, 2 or 3 years of growth based on plant needs and marketable size. This location change provides extra room for the plant to develop heavier branching, more uniform tops and larger calipered trunks. Root pruning, wrenching and this extra spacing lend to great density and mass of a transplants increased fibrous root system. As transplants have undergone the shock of transplanting before they reach our customers, they have exhibited the ability to handle future stresses of transplanting. Visually, these plants have the look of a more “finished” product than a seedling.

Transplants. P-1, P-2, P-3, P-4 The plug transplants are similar to field-seeded transplants but originated from plugs, plants that are greenhouse grown in small ‘cells’ or pots. These plugs are then removed from pots and transplanted in fields at the same spacing as seedling transplants and grown on for the years indicated. Plug transplants also have a more “finished” appearance than a same height seedling with qualities similar to our regular field grown seedling transplants. For the same number of years after transplanting, the plug transplants often show greater development.

Transplants. G-2, G-3 Grafted selections are transplanted bareroot into the beds with the greater transplant spacing as others transplants. Grafts are rarely harvested as 1year (G-1) because it is crucial for them to reinforce the graft union before additional stress to the plant occurs. Development of buds, branching, root system and thickening of caliper is generally not measurable until after the first recovery year. However, full uniformity is usually not visual until year 4. Therefore, upon receipt of a G-1, G-2 or G-3 graft, you may notice irregularity in symmetry or graft union. This appearance is normal and in no way detrimental to viability nor later marketability.

Preferences. At Lawyer Nursery we know that your bottom line starts underground. Each of these grades and ages focuses on the root development to support balanced top growth. You want a saleable, manageable height plant with a root system that is proportional to its top growth for viability.What drives Lawyer Nursery’s commitment to providing these options is you. As our customer you have definite needs. Each individual and company requires specific options for optimal success based on a variety of factors: climate, end user, time, equipment, personnel, site, etc.

We produce these different grades for the different needs of our customers. Do you want plants that run through a mechanical transplanter the easiest? Do you want stock that looks established and ‘ready to sell’ in pots for your garden center? The same species purchased for Christmas trees, reforestation, or ornamental use may differ in initial planting requirements. At Lawyer Nursery, we carry grades to maximize any application. In each case we strive to provide a balanced plant for your use because our strength is in our roots.

The variety of grades was discussed at the 8th Biennial Exotic Conifer Conference held in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in September 2007. This gathering is a biennial national conference that spotlights conifer trends in the Christmas tree and landscaping markets that is hosted by a different region at each conference. The 2009 location will be in Virginia. While all participants of the conference shared a commonality in zeal for new ideas and open forum for tricks of the trade, they differed in region. Some regional preferences have general application such as form and color. Yet each region bears witness to the effects of their local environmental factors on plants and market preferences.

For example, Abies concolor (White Fir) tends to express the peak of its bluish cast in drier soils and climates, according to the consensus. Abies bornmeulleriana (Turkish Fir) and Abies nordmanniana (Nordmann Fir) have great form, color and needle retention… if you can fence them from deer in the west. What is a solid profit to you, is candy to them. Yet growers in the east curse root rot due to high humidity while intermountain west and Midwest growers have begged this salesperson for humidity shipments to be sent with their plants (we’re working on it). Whether your growing site is a moist, fertile tree farm in Virginia or high desert garden center in Arizona, there is a grade that will give you success.

For John and Lynette Myhre of Rusty Gate Tree Farm in Idaho, it’s a P-2. When asked at the conference which of the grades John preferred the most, he responded, “P-2. Definitely.” John Myhre Rusty Gate Tree Farm Harrison, ID. John’s reasoning is based on what works for him and his wife, Lynette, on their 70 acre tree farm. After over 20 years of growing trees, their farm has succeeded despite every whim Mother Nature has gifted, from soil and species to wildlife and weather. A P-2 offers a compromise of development and size. Their transplanting efficiency improves by not having to prune the bigger root system of a 2-2 or more, yet the root structure is heftier than a seedling to prevent “frost heaving” yet offer “moisture protection from the soil as we process them.” The more developed root system overcomes the obstacles in dry-land farming in his area.

There are additional “growing” examples of success. Each success has come from a trial, a new idea tested. Conferences such as the Exotic Conifer Conference showcase success.

• New hybrid selections highlighted by Bob Girardin (Willow Pond Farm, NH)

• Seed source importance by Darryl Bowersox (HillView Christmas Tree Farm, PA) as he pro- motes glossy foliaged, cold-hardy Mediterranean firs.

• Dan Barney (University of Idaho) as he evalu ates “a large number of exotic firs as potential Christmas trees and ornamentals.”

• Tenacity at overcoming natural obstacles by Randy Caster (Hillcrest Tree Farm, IL), Milt Yakey (Yakey Tree Farm, IL) and Richard and Mary McClellan (McClellan’s Tree Farm, PA)

*More information regarding this conference can be obtained through Bob Girardin/Willow Pond Farm. Email: Also, contact your state association for more green industry trade show and conference options.

Each grade has advantages based on plant characteristics and your location. Review the Grade Characteristics chart as well as the Seed Source for Specialist Species summary chart and most of all, review our catalog for the most complete selection of conifers.

50 years of research and 50 years of networking with growers like you have generated grower-specific options for your success.

If you are still not sure which grade would best suit your planting needs, please feel free to inquire one of our helpful Sales Staff at 800-551-9875. The success is achievable and has been proven with time.

Making the Grade: Colorado Blue Spruce showcases the many grade selections.

Colorado Blue Spruce grading example2-0. Root systems and top growth are balanced. Even bud set for future branch development. Sizes 3-6", 6-9", 9-12", and 12-15" are represented. Colorado Blue Spruce grading exampleP-2 Dense, fibrous root development evident. Accelerated plug start yields a developed, proportionate product. Colorado Blue Spruce grading example2-2 Strong caliper, and dense root structure make this crop substantial specimens. Colorado Blue Spruce grading example2-3 Montana grown. Strong caliper, well anchored and even taper characterize this northern grown grade.
Grade Summary
The below information is a listing of the selection of grades possible at Lawyer Nursery.
Also listed are examples of species within that grade (past or present) as well as the researched advantage.
Example Species
Cedrus deodara (Deodar Cedar)
Abies nordmanniana (Nordman Fir)
Calocedrus decurrens (Incense Cedar)
Size is held to under 12-15" for ease of lining out; Proper caliper for grafting; Greater success in planting because root ball stays intact; Fast rooting time; Excellent root system; Actively growing; Extended shipping season; Less inventory fluctuation
1-0 1yr seedling
Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas Fir)
Sequoiadendron giganteum (Giant Sequoia)
For fast growing species that become too large if given an extra season. Mostly grown as a 2-0 but if the weather has been warm, sunny and moist, the crop must be harvested.
2yr seedling
Abies grandis (Grand Fir)
Piicea abies (Norway Spruce)
Juniperus virginiana (Eastern Red Cedar
Most seedling crops; Root systems and tops are balanced; Average size is about 9-18”; Low cost
3yr seedling
Picea breweriana (Weeping Spruce)
Picea englemannii (Engelman Spruce)
Allows more field time for slower growing crops; Similar in development to a faster growing species harvested for a 2-0 crop
1yr sdlng/1yr trnsplnt
Sequoiadendron giganteum (Giant Sequoia) More developed than a seedling but still shippable as a bareroot and great transplant success.
2yr sdlng/1yr trnsplnt
Pinus nigra (Austrian Pine) For faster growing crops where an extra year would hinder economic shipping and transplant success
2yr sdlng/2yr trnsplnt
Abies concolor (White Fir)
Pseudotsuga men. ‘glauca’ (Rocky Mountain Douglas Fir)
Most transplant crops; More cost effective than potted plants; Size appropriate for transplant success; Developed branching; Generous bud set; Fibrous roots
2yr sdlng/3yr trnsplnt
Picea pungens ‘glauca’ (Colorado Blue Spruce) Montana grown; Shorter growing season requires additional year to meet customers’ request for sizing; More cost effective than potted plants; Size appropriate for transplant success
3yr sdlng/2yr trnsplnt
Pinus strobus (Eastern White Pine)
Pinus leucodermis (Bosnian Pine)
Pinus aristata (Bristlecone Pine)
Pinus mugo pumilo (Dwarf Mugo Pine) Abies bornmuelleriana (Turkish Fir)
Montana or Washington grown; Montana - Shorter growing season requires additional years to meet customers’ request for sizing; Washington – Slower growing species need more field time to reach saleable height; More cost effective than potted plants; Size appropriate for transplant success
3yr sdlng/3yr trnsplnt
Abies lasiocarpa (Sub Alpine Fir)
Abies lasiocarpa arizonica (Corkbark Fir)
Picea pungens ‘glauca’ (Colorado Blue Spruce)
Montana or Washington grown; Montana - Shorter growing season requires additional years to meet customers’ request for sizing; Washington – Slower growing species need more field time to reach sale able height; More cost effective than potted plants; Size appropriate for transplant success
Plug start/1yr trnsplnt
Abies balsamea phanerolepis (Caanan Fir) Tsuga canadensis (Eastern Hemlock) Similar to a 2-0 in development but in less time; Uniform sizing; Continued branched/fibrous root development from plug start
Plug start/2yr trnsplnt
Abies fraseri (Fraser Fir)
Picea omorica (Serbian Spruce)
Almost as developed as a 2-2 transplant but in less time; More cost effective than potted plants; Size appropriate for transplant success
Plug start/3yr trnsplnt
Picea glauca densata (Black Hills Spruce) More developed than a 2-2 transplant and in less time; Montana or Washington grown; Montana - Shorter growing season requires additional years to meet customers’ request for sizing; Washing ton – Slower growing species need more field time to reach saleable height; More cost effective than potted plants; Size appropriate for transplant success
Plug start/3yr trnsplnt
Picea glauca densata (Black Hills Spruce) Montana grown; Shorter growing season requires additional years to meet customers’ request for sizing; More cost effective than potted plants; Size appropriate for transplant success
Graft start 2yr trnsplnt
Hoopsi Blue Spruce
Fat Albert Blue Spruce
Similar to a 2-0 or 2-1 in development; Recovering from graft; More cost effective than potted plants; Size appropriate for transplant success
Graft start 3yr trnsplnt
Columnar Blue Spruce
Hoopsi Blue Spruce
Similar to a 2-1 or 2-2; Recovery from graft is complete; All growth normalized; More cost effective than potted plants; Size appropriate for transplant success