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Pinus patula (Orang-Utan Pine)

Fast growing, silky foliaged Pine from the Mexican mountains. This can grow to 30ft in 15 years but it also lends itself to being shaped and kept at a constant size – just using a pair of shears. Any reasonably well drained soil and plenty of space. Pines are very sensitive to light and the lack of it. Beautiful as its geographical neighbour Pinus montezuma is, this one is less fussy about soil and much faster growing.

It remains rare in cultivation. Maybe the idea of growing pines from tropical Mexico seems fanciful but they grow high in the mountains and appear perfectly frost hardy in the south of England.

Another plant that had no common name in this country, we waited for inspiration. We had a tree growing in the garden at the old nursery in Nuthurst. The old leaves turn a gingery colour before they fall and all the leaves (whether green or gingery) hang down in a pendulous fashion. I was once taking a lady through the garden to show her a Eucalyptus tree when I heard her voice behind me : “Ooh look, a great big orang-utan“. “I beg your pardon madam?”. She was looking at the Pinus patula and she was quite right to say what she said. Now you come to mention it, it does look like a great big Orang-Utan and from that day forth, it’s been known as the Orang-Utan Pine. Thank you that lady – whoever you were and wherever you are now.

Grown by us from seed. Unlike some pines, this is not good by the sea – the salt turns the leaves brown. It likes and needs space but avoid very exposed sites.

N.B. When clipping several plants with the same tool, have a bucket containing a 5% bleach solution and swish your blades around for 30 seconds between plants to sterilise them. This will help avoid the chance of cross contamination of disease.

As with all woody plants, plant high, exposing as much of the taper at the base of the trunk as possible. Allowing soil to accumulate round the base of a tree can be fatal. Keep very well watered when first planted.

Hardiness traffic light green

Hardiness level Green

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Hardy anywhere in Britain below approximately 1000ft (300m)

This is only meant as a guide. Please remember we're always on hand to give advice about plants and their frost hardiness.

Please remember that these coloured labels are only a rough guide.

General Point about Plant Hardiness: The commonly held belief that it's better to 'plant small' is perfectly true with herbaceous plants, but not necessarily true with woody plants. They need some 'wood' on them to survive severe cold - so plants of marginal hardiness in very cold areas should really be planted LARGER, rather than smaller, wherever possible.