Plant Obsessions: Pinus pinea & Heptacodium Miconoides

That is Stone Pine (or Umbrella Pine) and Seven Sons Tree (or Northern Crape Myrtle).  I’ve planted neither, but that isn’t stopping me from obsessing.

Graceful midsized, arch topped trees is clearly what I am craving.  In my garden I can actually have the Seven Sons Tree and unless one of you inform me of it’s horribleness in the comments, I will probably plant 2 or 3 right in front of my compost area this season.

Heptocodium miconioides

Heptacodium Miconoides (Seven sons tree)  Isn’t it a lovely shape?

The Pinus Pinea, on the other hand is just out of my (zone) reach. Dang. I’m really hot on this tree too.

stone pine in rome italy

Pinus pinea (Stone pine in Rome, Italy).

Do you live in zone 8 or 9? You could plant Pinus pinea in your garden (BTW, they take a really long time to look like this — but isn’t that some awesome city tree?).

Both trees are an excellent focal point and should be placed where their sculptural beauty can be appreciated and highlighted by the surrounding architecture (or lack of),  or plants.  Pinus pinea reminds me of England.  At a mature height it looks alot like Cedar of Lebanon.  When we lived in England, I found that when lost in the country (which was often), while looking for a famed garden or an old castle, you can look at the skyline and see if you see a cedar of lebanon poking above all else.  That will, for sure, be where you are going.  I can only surmise that these were very popular with garden designers a long, long time ago as every old garden has one.

stone pine tres in portugal

Stone Pine in Portugal.

Both the stone pine and the Cedar of Lebanon remind me of clouds.  The Stone Pine is the fluffly but dangerous Cumulonimbus whereas the Cedar of Lebanon is like the less menacing lenticular.   I wish I could grow them both.

Back to focusing on real possibilities for my New England location, here is what I am most excited about with the soon to be Heptacodium Miconoides:

Apparently they grow pretty fast and when new and small they look kinda like this:

before and after pruning of seven sons tree

but a simple prune can near instantly turn it into this:

before and after pruning of seven sons tree

In my book that is some satisfying pruning when you can make a blob into a winsome elegant little tree.

So tell me, have you grown either of these two trees? Do you have lessons to share? And can I come visit your stone pine?

images from fossilflowers, findtarget, luis fontes and GardenWeb.

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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.
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  1. Robert Webber on April 26, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    The stone pine is fabulous.
    Grew up near a large old one
    and still think of it often.
    Trees like that give a complete identity to an area.
    Thanks for reminding me of it.

  2. p bargar on April 26, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    sounds like the stone pine must prefer limestone bedrock if growing in Italy and those parts. A wonderful shape as an adult tree!

  3. tennis on April 26, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    you should give credit for the photos.

    • rochelle on April 27, 2011 at 7:42 am

      Tennis- I did, I always do. (right below the gallery)

  4. Laura W on April 28, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Everything you’ve heard about Heptacodium is true. So if you see a lovely one this season, don’t hesitate – you need it! Planted mine a few years ago at a similar size shown in your photo, and it has grown at a very satisfying rate – not too fast to make a gardener nervous. Selective pruning for shape is fun, easy and effective as stated. Have had absolutely no pest, disease or deer problems. Has happily handled wet seasons, drought and heat waves. Always looks great. Always blooms, and even better, sets dark pink sepals – one of my favorite hues. Exfoliating bark is gorgeous from the start, you don’t have to wait for maturity to enjoy. Can you tell I’m a fan?

  5. Josh on April 28, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Just got Weston Nurseries specials…. and guess what they have on sale 10-12′ Heptacodium… sent you the sales pdf.

  6. Heidi on April 30, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    I just convinced my mom to get a heptacodium. Her local nursery only had one. It is due to be delivered next week. Apparently it is quite bushy. I told her that she could limb it up, and now I can send her this link to show her!

  7. Klasse im Garten on May 24, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Concur with LauraW! planted ours in fall 2003. Put it next to an annex wall (I wanted to recreate the way large self seeded shrubs grow sometimes next to barn walls), did some pruning early on to lift the crown. Now it shades the bench and table underneath, and start to shade the (low) roof of the annex.

    In addition to Lauras accurate description: Seedheads persist, with some luck, into winter here (Central Europe, vicinity vo Vienna, Austria) and look very nice when frosted.

    Some pics here:[email protected]/3990217593/in/set-72157594480649684

    • rochelle on May 24, 2011 at 9:39 am

      thanks for the photos !! I got my tree and it is all planted….need to wait for some of the surrounding planting to poke through the ground and look beautiful so I can take some pictures and share with you all.

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