Today’s photographs and entry are courtesy of Douglas Justice, the garden’s Curator of Collections. – Daniel
This pine is a favourite of mine, being both exuberant in growth and delicate in overall effect. Himalayan pine produces long, relatively soft needles in fascicles of five on long, shoots that retain their smooth silvery sheen for many years. See the Wikipedia entry and the page at conifers.org for more information. The blue-green of its needles, the shape of its cones and the regular, whorled branching is somewhat typical of white-pines (compare with Pinus strobus, Pinus monticola and Pinus flexilis), but its crown is broad, at least in the cultivated material I’ve seen. According to Keith Rushforth (Conifers, Christopher Helm, London, 1987), nearly all of the soft pines (Section Strobus) “do not like exposure.” In the David C. Lam Asian Garden, the Pinus wallichiana pictured is sheltered on a southeast-facing hillside with a variety of other exotics under mature Abies grandis (grand fir).
VanDusen Botanical Garden (Vancouver’s other botanical garden) also has a collection of Pinus wallichiana in its Sino-Himalayan Garden, and like ours, the trees are of unknown provenance. Sometime in 1981, I was working at Massot Nurseries, a large wholesaler in Richmond, BC (just south of Vancouver). One of my duties as a shipper was alternate truck driver, and one day I had occasion to deliver a load of these Himalayan pines (now in #5 pots) to the still developing VanDusen Garden. The plants had originally been grown at Hybrid Nurseries, a forest seedling grower, whose owner at the time, Bruce Morton, was interested in disseminating exotic conifers around the Vancouver area. At VanDusen, I met a kindred spirit in Gerald Gibbens, the gardener for the Sino-Himalayan Garden at VanDusen. Gerry had recently returned from an internship at Windsor Great Park and was still high on the experience, which he explained in some detail as we unloaded the pines. Ten years later, Gerry made it possible for me to intern at Windsor—a seminal experience for me. Windsor was not only a way to ease myself out of the nursery industry, but it was my starting point on the road to a career in public horticulture. What a great tree!