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If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?

Typical Jack Pine

This one is in my demo garden, about 12 years old. Just starting to develop character.

Jack Pine

Picture this tree with a 2 foot thick, ping-pong table sized sandstone or slate boulder, sloping down toward the trunk. A 20 foot pool laps against the edge of the boulder.

This tree is growing in a pasture 10 miles from my house. Probably about 70 years old.

Jack Pine

Stand of jack pine, about 10 miles from my house.

Jack Pine

Pinus banksiana

Jack pine is the black sheep of family. Unruly. Wild. Undisciplined. This is not the tree for a formal garden. Better to try to take a street urchin to the Ambassador's ball.

Jack Pine

About 3 feet tall, and ready for a new home or a bigger pot.

Jack Pine

New batch of Jacks settling into their styroblocks.

Jack Pine

One of my larger potted jacks surprised me with last summer. They don't usually produce cones this young.

And yet for all that, they have a rugged charm. I travel most summers for a couple weeks in the lake country in Northern Saskatchewan. There I'll find jacks and spruce growing right out of the rocks, clinging tenaciously to life. These trees speak to me of persistance. Of going on when life is handing you rabbit-pellet pie for desert.

If you have yard that is more like a gravel pit than a lawn, consider jack pine. If nothing will grow, if that part of the yard has convinced your neighbours that you truly have a black thumb, this may be your tree.

If you like bonsai, or are a fan of Japanese gardens this tree has a lot of possibilities.

Jacks will eventually get 40 to 60 feet tall, but seldom get that tall when grown in the open, opting to grow sideways instead.

Jacks tend to keep their dead limbs longer than most pines. You may find that you want to prune the dead stuff off. Wait. Step back. This is a living sculpture. Take your time.

It will never look like a Christmas tree. It will never be symmetrical. It probably won't be very straight. It doesn't really know what straight means. But it will have character. Plant one -- maybe three. Give 'em room. Once they are about 10 feet high start looking at them as you would a bonsai. Start shaping them. Stand back.

Add rocks.

Add a pool.

Add a chunk of driftwood.

And your neighbours said you couldn't garden.

Sun: Full sun.

Water: While establishing, then whenever. Tolerates neglect.

Soil: Does best on sandy, well drained soils. Does NOT like wet clay.

Hardiness zone: Accounts vary. Zone 1 or 2. Maybe zone 0.

Fertilizer: Extremely light (1/6 to 1/4 standard dose) applied in late fall or in spring right after snow melt.

Transplanting from wild: Jack tends to have a large tap root. Don't try to transplant one bigger than about 3 feet. Dig only when fully dormant. October is best time.

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Want to talk right now? Call me: (8 am to 8 pm only, please) 1-780-848-2548

Do not arrive unannounced. Phone for an appointment. Why? See Contact & Hours That same page gives our hours of operation.

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Sherwood's Forests is located about 75 km southwest of Edmonton, Alberta. Please refer to the map on our Contact page for directions.