Wednesday, February 3, 2010

'Ara Kawa' Japanese White Pine, Pinus parviflora

Some plants are very showy – in form and color – an almost brash, in-your-face,” Here I am, check me out….oh ya’, that’s right, I rock!”

Others are more subdued. They live their lives at the edge of the spotlight. Many are small, but no less beautiful, often being referred to as, “cute”. They make the most of their attributes of adaptability, consistency, and durability.

A third group is more laid back, in form or size, or a combination of the two. Subtle beauty is very evident, albeit not as flashy as those in the first group, nor as subdued as those in the second.

One member of this third, “laid-back” group is Pinus parviflora ‘Ara Kawa’. ‘Ara Kawa’ is a slow-growing, irregular, compact form of Japanese White Pine. Its dark blue green needles offset the intriguing, white, rough, textured bark. Small green cones, which begin as indigo, augment this color scheme.

The variety’s adaptability is evidenced by its hardiness. It is suitable for zones 2-9, which includes most zones in the U.S. Its compact size and slow rate of growth (2”-4”/ year to a maximum of about 5’ in 10 years) make it suitable for a variety of landscape settings, from larger rock gardens, to patio areas, and small to medium size gardens.

The feature that ensures Ara Kawa’s membership in the laid-back group, however, is its form. The attractive foliage and interesting white, scaly bark are found in an irregular, wind-swept, form.

This unique look, suggests an inherent attractive, suave “coolness” and unfaltering good looks reminiscent of a Sean Connery, Samuel L. Jackson, Denzel Washington, or a George Clooney. At the same time, however, there is the inherent “hip”, “funky” coolness that seems to be emitted from it’s entirety, from it’s very nature – think of B.B. King, Eric Clapton, or Bono.

One more thing: Don’t be surprised if you think you hear a jazz riff playing somewhere in the background, as you are enjoying the company of Pinus parviflora “Ara Kawa”. This is one “cool dude” of a plant.

[Sunglasses not included.]

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