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Black lace plant care- this is the second of three stories from my new book Black Lace: A Guide to the Care and Keeping of Black Spruce, Mountain Ash, Black Walnut and Other North American Conifers. Check out the first story here and the third story here.
In this episode of the Spruce Tips Podcast, host Joe McCray goes behind the scenes of Spruce Care Studio for the final story of his series on Black Lace Care. Spruce Care Studio is the name of my home and consulting business and is a name chosen for it’s all encompassing approach to spruce care and spruce care tips. You can check out all three of the stories in this series of posts by checking out the previous links.
Black lace care is all about understanding how individual conifers fit into the broader landscape, and how they work with other species. As a general rule of thumb, spruce are easier to care for than other conifers (though this is dependent on the species). They are much less woody and hold their needles for longer than most conifers. When choosing the location of a new spruce, the tree will have already decided to place it’s next growing point. A location that is at the end of a natural line of growth is ideal, as the tree is being planted in its own space that makes sense and will be a much easier and reliable point of growth and production. In black lace care, we have to figure out what to do with the existing trees, that have now grown around the black lace and other established conifers. There is no denying it is work, but it’s an important task to not only keep our spruce healthy, but to increase the value of our landscape by creating better habitat for other species.
In the case of Black Lace, the plants themselves are much less woody, so we can trim them back much more regularly and often, than many of our spruces. This does mean, however, that we will have to take a close look at the existing plants to decide which ones we want to keep, and which ones to trim back. When considering trimming, there is a fine balance between retaining a high density of spruce to prevent the spread of beetles and the loss of light, while allowing enough of the canopy to spread and let in more light. Trimming black lace can be very effective at boosting a spruce’s health, and improving its ability to provide habitat for other species.
As the sun warms up in the spring, we’re going to have to start thinking about pruning black lace spruce. Some spruces will need to be trimmed back hard and fast to remove the old branches. Others will be ready to be trimmed much more lightly and can be removed in small clusters.
The trees that are in full production at this time are going to be producing more cones than at any time since they were planted. As the trees continue to grow, the cones will start to form clusters called “canopies” which will start to grow above the branches. These canopies will eventually provide much more habitat for animals than the spruce itself. It’s a common misconception that black lace spruce is actually not a spruce at all, but rather a shrub. Black lace spruce is in fact a spruce tree with a unique flower shape, but the black lace in its cones indicates that it’s in full production, just as a spruce cone would be.
Black lace spruce and its cones are only going to improve our landscape over the next few years. They are a part of the future of our community’s forest.
We invite you to come and see this amazing shrub for yourself. It’s a plant we’re really proud of, and one that’s becoming more and more important to our region’s forest as time goes on.
If you would like to learn more about this wonderful plant, check out some of the links below.
How to Plant Black Lace Spruce
How Black Lace Spruce Benefits Wildlife
Why is Black Lace Spruce Important to Us?
Planting Black Lace Spruce in Your Own Backyard
If you would like to know more about our local forestry industry, our programs, and what we’re doing to make a lasting impact in the future of our region, please visit our website at clydebankforestry.ca.