Gardens Web

March 20, 2018

Using Conifers to Complete Your Winter Garden

You’ll be hearing a lot from us this season about improving your winter garden patch. There are just so many options to explore and we are excited to share them with you. We believe there is a solution for every last dreary winter landscape! We’ve discussed a great deal about fast growing plants, their vibrant colors and ornamental growth really spice up a garden, but today we’ll be presenting how conifers- their solid, steady, and slow growing counterpart, can add just as much as the shrubs and berry plants we’ve discussed in other articles.

You’ll be hearing a lot from us this season about improving your winter garden patch. There are just so many options to explore and we are excited to share them with you. We believe there is a solution for every last dreary winter landscape! We’ve discussed a great deal about fast growing plants, their vibrant colors and ornamental growth really spice up a garden, but today we’ll be presenting how conifers- their solid, steady, and slow growing counterpart, can add just as much as the shrubs and berry plants we’ve discussed in other articles.

As a sturdy hedge and border, or even as a focal point for your garden, the intense needle patterns and unique shapes and sizes of conifers are a delightful and practical addition to your landscape. Conifers add both beauty and color to a garden and protects it from harsh winter winds. The smaller shrubs or dwarf varieties do well and look fantastic in a mixed garden, while the larger of the species can stand on its own. If allowed to grow wild a conifer will become too large for most home landscapes and will require pruning- Otherwise it will need to be placed in an area with a lot of growing space in order to reach its full potential.

Here are just a few Conifers for your garden:

Firs – Abies
Fir trees are tall, slender, cone shaped trees that have short needles with woody cones. Most often found in cool and moist northern mountainous regions, they’ll grow well in similar places but do not do well in hot areas with severe summers. Some firs are more adaptable than others, a good example would be the white fir, having 2 inch blue green needles, sometimes reaching shades almost as blue as the Colorado blue spruce. This variation will tolerate summer heat and drier soil better than most other firs and will grow up to 50 feet or taller. In smaller gardens, variations like the dwarf balsam fir or the prostrate form of Korean fir will have more space to grow and decorate your garden with its full potential. Firs need full or part sun; well drained soil containing a layer of mulch and will need regular watering during temporary droughts. Firs do not need pruning.

False Cypresses – Chamaecyparis
Naturally these are big trees but there are many dwarf variations that fit perfectly in smaller gardens. Some of the best to grow in the smaller garden sizes are the Hinoki cypress, Sawara cypress, and the Atlantic white cedar. They can be upright and cone shaped or low and rounded, bright or dark green in color or blue green, blue grey, or gold. Cypresses also come in many different textures – scaly, stringy, furry, prickly, or mossy. Its growth rate and mature size vary depending on the tree. Most dwarf variations will only grow a few inches a year. Eventually, upright, cone shaped types will reach 10 to 15 feet in height; mounded types stay 1-3 feet tall. These trees need part sun in the summer and shade in the winter. For the best results, most fertile well-drained soil and a layer of mulch is required. They can be sheared or pruned, and will need regular watering during temporary droughts.

Junipers – Juniperus
Junipers are easy to grow and come in so many varieties; it makes them a popular shrub to grow, especially for the winter months. They are usually upright trees with slender crowns, broad bushy tops, and distinct trunks. Their foliage is prickly and scaly and comes in a variety of shades; green, blue green or blue grey. Female plants bear little blue fruits with a fresh almost piny scent. The following are some of the most popular and attractive variations. The Pathfinder and Wichita types of juniper have a broad cone like shape, silver blue foliage and will grow up to 15 feet tall.

Robusta Green and Torulosa can grow to 10 feet or taller and has twisted growth and dense bright green foliage. A mid size cultivar is the Sea Green juniper. Growing approximately 30 inches in height, this smaller shrub, has feather green foliage on arching shoots. The compact, gold, and blue forms of the Pfitzer juniper will grow 2-3 feet tall, and 4-6 feet wide. Junipers also have groundcover variations. Some of the best of these are Bar Harbor, Blue Chip, Wiltonii, or Blue Rug, all types of the genus ‘J. Horizonatilis’ They are colourful, with blue grey or blue silver that will turn a purplish color during the winter months. Another, the Mother Lode, has needles that turn bright yellow in the summer, golden orange in autumn, and then purplish in winter. All have creeping stems that hug the ground and spread 4-6 feet wide.

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