Posted by: groundsforsculpture | May 2, 2010

A Garden Blog – Lacebark Pine

By Louise Witonsky, Docent and Master Gardener

Join us for a Seminar by Brian Carey of AC/BC Associates and Landscape Architect at Grounds For Sculpture on Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 11 am (postponed from April 22, 2010 – Earth Day Celebration).

Lacebark Pine- Pinus bungeana and Seward Johnson, A Thought to Consider, 2003. Painted Cast Aluminum, Courtesy of the Sculpture Foundation, Inc.

Lacebark Pine, Pinus bungeana at GFS

Lacebark Pine
Grounds For Sculpture is a fantastic arboretum. Brian Carey and Bruce Daniels have done an amazing job of planting some unusual tree specimens. One of the most interesting of these is the lacebark pine- Pinus bungeana. This tree, native to China, was named for Dr. Alexander von Bunge, who discovered the species in 1831 and was the first Westerner to collect seeds from the species growing in the temple gardens of Beijing.

There are a few specimens of the lacebark pine at Grounds For Sculpture. One is planted in the area where the Monkey King by Hyung Jun Yum is located. How appropriate to place the lacebark pine tree, a tree beloved by Chinese emperors, in the area where the Monkey King, the most beloved Chinese super hero, is placed! To learn more about the Monkey King, click here:

The Chinese love for pine trees was expressed in this ancient poem.

When one sits in a garden with peach trees,

flowers, and willows, without a single pine

in sight, it is like sitting among children and

women without any venerable man in the

vicinity to whom one may look up.

-Li Li-Weng

Lacebark Pine and Seward Johnson's A Thought to Consider. Photo by M. Lariccia.

Pines portrayed hardiness, strength of character, virtue, or stalwart friendship in adverse times. Plants sited in gardens in Li’s time were not chosen for form, texture and flower alone, but also as symbols of abstract thought or representatives of human qualities. These were attributes of the Monkey King, too. So Brian Carey and Bruce Daniels choice of this tree near the Monkey King seems to me to be especially appropriate.

The lacebark pine tree is known for its beautiful exfoliating bark that appears in patches or splotches of greenish-gray, lime green, buff brown, yellow, reddish or white and, I think, bluish color in an irregular pattern against a background of silvery gray. The tree is very slow growing and may not exhibit the patches of color when young. It is a good landscape plant and because of its slowgrowing nature, it is a good choice for bonsai. It has a thick trunk that rises from the ground to the height of only about three or four feet. At this point, some eight or ten branches spring out, not branching or bending in the usual way, but rising perpendicularly and straight up. The shape of the tree tends to be pyramidal when young, spreading and open in maturity. It grows to at least 65 feet high and 30 ft wide. The premier specimen of the lacebark pine in the US, which is over 100 years old, is in Brookline, Massachusetts, at “Holm Lea,” the old estate of Charles Sprague Sargent, first director of Arnold Arboretum. The curious thing about the lacebark pine is that in the US the main color of the bark is a silvery gray, but in China the bark is white. From my readings, scientists do not understand why.

This hardy, disease and deer resistant tree is still pretty much of a rarity in the US. How fortunate for guests to Grounds For Sculpture that they are able to see this rare beauty.


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