Artist Matt diLeo’s Tree Collection Tour & Conversation 

Sponge Divers, Acrylic on wood, 24 x 24 inches, 2019

Mean Green
Artist Matt diLeo Tree Collection Tour & Conversation 
Zone 8b/9a
(I call him Di-Lay-Oh)

And I mean ‘Mean Green’ as in of exceptional quality. Matt is one of the nicest guys I know. Having built and cared for an impressive collection of prized trees (in pots no less) in his home garden in the Pacific Northwest, where something is always growing, he alternates his time between tending to his garden and making art. 

A friend and close confidant, he’s been alongside for all things Moody related since the beginning. He is also featured prominently in my Art collection, one of the few artists not tied to Coney Island (but still tied to Coney Island) to be featured. 

The way we met wasn’t irregular but it was pretty serendipitous. I liked a post of one of his drawings and kept doing so for a while. We eventually learned through talking a bit that one of his drawing teachers was another artist in my collection, Marie Roberts, who is the Sideshow banner painter at Coney Island USA. 

These days he is also putting up with me slowly grooming him to become the Regional Flower Buyer for Moody Flowers and strengthening relationships with our farm suppliers in California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. I also have planted seeds that he might one day be partner and lead the charge to building an ecologically sound flower farm with me here on the Mid-Atlantic coast.

Enjoy our chat below and a look into some of the tree species in his collection he has come to adore. It’s hard not to.

Di-Lay-Oh: Chief Joseph Lodge Pole Pine. 7 years old. Ornamental Winter feature. It turns yellow in December. Very rare and expensive, 1 gallon/ 1 foot tree is $375.

Di-Lay-Oh: Western Red Cedar. Common tree out here, gorgeous fragrance, grows steady in the ground and very tall 100+ feet.

Di-Lay-Oh: All Western Reds of various sizes.

Moody florist: 👏👏👏

Di-Lay-Oh: This is an Incense Cedar, turns copper in Fall and Winter, grows fast.

Di-Lay-Oh: Blue Cedar, 5 years old, gorgeous new growth.

Di-Lay-Oh: Coastal Redwood, showstopper !!! I’ve had this 5 years. Once I put it in a bigger pot it grew 3 feet in 1 year which is normal, it wants to win!

Di-Lay-Oh: Spanish Fir, striking good looks, grows slow and steady.

Moody florist: They are all so freaking lovely. I want to see the end game cos I put in a ton of hickory nuts. 

Moody florist: You’ve described them so thoughtfully - Amazing collection. They are absolutely obviously cared for.


Di-Lay-Oh: Korean Fir, new to me, gorgeous but slow growing. I need to repot it and fertilize it this year, see what comes of it.

Moody florist: The flattened top is charming.

Di-Lay-Oh: Hemlock , I bonsai treated it since it was a shorty, 8 years in my care, gorgeous results. 

Moody florist: The weeping effect is appreciated. By Ava and I both. I feel like I’m at the ballet watching graceful dancers. 

Di-Lay-Oh: Fukushima White Pine, wind swept variety is my thing, she loves this spot too, I planted it last year. 

Moody florist: You’ve cared for them so well it’s really touching. Will the planted ones stay there permanently ?

Di-Lay-Oh: Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar, showstopper. I cut the ends and trim it every year and it’s really starting to develop.

Moody florist: How much pruning are you doing overall?

Di-Lay-Oh: Mugo Pine, my first conifer, 10 years in my care, $100 for a 1 gallon, she is loving the 25 gallon pot I put her in and I prune every other year just a bit.

Moody florist: How’d you decide to only go for the fanciest ones?

Di-Lay-Oh: Hemlock Trees, from my friend's property on the coast in Long Beach, Washington. Been in my care for 4 years and I just repotted them.

Moody florist: The Mugo throws up middle fingers (they dew, Google it).

Di-Lay-Oh: I have expensive taste ;) 

Di-Lay-Oh: Haha.

Moody florist: Would you in theory be able to run a fancy tree breeding program if you wanted to? Theoretically? In a galaxy far far away. I’m sorry I try to commercialize poetry constantly.

Di-Lay-Oh: This is this year's addition to the family. A wind swept high elevation pine. I LOVE these trees. A mature tree is the Rolls Royce of bonsais north of $1500. Some aren’t wind swept but they don’t catch my eye.

Moody florist: Leanin! How’d the wind swept thang start?

Di-Lay-Oh: Japanese Black Dragon Cedar, last year's 116 degree day burnt her, but I will prune this year and repot, gorgeous tree.

Moody florist: Damnnnn. Come on. Unreasonable 😍 I thought it was natural. 

Moody florist: There is a midget pine in the Shawangunks that won’t seed unless burned. I just learned. 

Di-Lay-Oh: Blue Juniper, slow growing, amazing new growth color.

Moody florist: There was a huge fire so it’s this adorable tiny army of saplings there now.

 Moody florist: The blue really hits.

Di-Lay-Oh: Norway Spruce, one of my favorites! That heat wave terrified me, I had just planted it and thought it wasn’t gonna make it but it recovered well and looks very healthy.

Di-Lay-Oh: Sauna flex. Haha.

Moody florist: Looks great. The jades too. You have the safety sign and everything 👏 You’ve really fit out the whole outdoor space so thoughtfully.

Di-Lay-Oh: Bamboo varies as privacy fence, love it. 

Moody florist: You have great taste and a real sense of space.

Moody florist: Potted! Very good. We have some out of control in a parking lot I want to harvest for shelving :)

Di-Lay-Oh: Apricot tree, 3rd year, hoping for a good yield, last year got 1 delicious apricot.

Moody florist: Do you ever harvest any bamboo for any other purpose?

Moody florist: 1!

Moody florist: That’s the fondest memory I have of Odessa.

Di-Lay-Oh: Not yet but I’m gonna split them this year.

Moody florist: Eating apricots sitting on a low branch of a tree in the park with one of my grandparents.

Moody florist: Split them to have more or to use for something else? Split the roots or the canes?

Di-Lay-Oh: A cluster of 3 is $99.

Moody florist: Got you. 

Di-Lay-Oh: I have sooo much.

Moody florist: So you are thinking commercially? Short term at least?

Moody florist: But I have a sense long term too.

Di-Lay-Oh: The black bamboo is $125 for 3.

Moody florist: We got access to land on both coasts whenever you ready but I guess I don’t have to remind you. Ahhh this tour was best part of today. Closely behind was laying in the hammock with Ava.

Moody florist: First swing of the year at End of the Grove.

Moody florist: Put beets radish and parsley in outside. There are 6 dahlia seedlings omg. I left all the dahlia seed outside by accident and got soaked in rain thought they were ruined but instead I think it got them going. 

Moody florist: What are you doing about potting soil generally? You buy bags? Or are using your own from the garden when repotting trees? 

Moody florist: I’m running out of hope for my compost pile ever becoming compost. It's still just a pile of garden detritus. I don’t know that I have the strength to turn it so have just been trying to make it bigger, lol. But I gotta scram from garden in 2 months and will have half a ton of unfinished compost. 

Di-Lay-Oh: I use a blend called 3 way, it has organic material and sand, works amazing. Compost is tricky, takes a couple years to really breakdown correct. 

Di-Lay-Oh: I use it and have a pile and hope for the best. But there are great soil spots out here and a yard of really good compost, soil, is about $36 a yard. It’s worth buying in bulk. 

Moody florist: Sick. $36. That’s one doordash order. 

Moody florist: Are you gona grow food this year? 

Di-Lay-Oh: Yes, my garden will be full this year. Canning too. 

Moody florist: Keep me posted!