botanical blessings: conifers for the coldest days

THEY ARE GARDEN STALWARTS, FEARING NOTHING–not even low single digits and multiple feet of snow. In this old-fashioned Northeastern winter of 2010-11, I’m counting my blessings, and tops on that list: the conifers who live here with me (including the weeping Alaska cedar, Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Pendula,’ above). What better time of year to review them, in a slideshow that links off to all their individual profiles?

    1. Margaret says:

      Hi, Mary Ellen. Well-said! I am so thankful to have them here right now, where most everything is buried deep in multiple feet of snow. See you soon again, I hope.

  1. Kathy Aral says:

    Not sure I’ve ever seen that type of cedar, but it’s beautiful. I grew up in the mountains surrounded by deep conifer forest (mostly fir), which was wonderful anytime of year, but after a heavy snow it was like having a whole other world to explore. We usually got enough snow that the trees were completely laden and you couldn’t even see any green. We had a yew in the yard, too, but it was much smaller than the one in your slideshow. I think ours was a different variety, but as far as I know, they all grow quite slowly.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Kathy. It’s a Chamaecyparis, meaning the common name is “false cypress” (because it’s in the Cypress family, Cupressaceae) or more often “Alaska cedar” (even though it’s not a cedar, either, which would be in the genus Cedrus). Which is one good example of why common names are useless, and only the Latin ones insure that you will get the plant you want. :) See you soon again, I hope.

  2. I think winter turns evergreens from gardening background, to “Sculptural Stars” in the garden. So it must be… Every evergreen has “his or her” day. And their days to shine are WINTER DAYS.

    Fred from Loudonville, NY / Fred Gonsowski

  3. Tess Boug says:

    I just purchased an Alaska Cedar, and need information about how best to plant it and take care of it. I live in upstate New York. Does anyone have any advice for me?

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Stephanie. Growing this conifer from seed will take many years, and germination of the seed will be low…as you can red in this technical pdf from Washington State University, e.g. Not something akin to sowing seed of more familiar and faster-growing things.

  4. Susan watts says:

    I have a 12 foot weeping Alaskan cedar. Can you tell me if there is any addition furtlizer I should give to my tree

  5. Sonja says:

    I am considering purchasing two Alaskan Weeping Cedars and am concerned that my soil (clay like) will not be good? Also, I have read that this particular tree has a foul odor when the leaves/needles are “crushed” or brushed against? Can you please let me know about my concerns.

    1. margaret says:

      I have never noticed any odor, Sonja, and I have two old Alaska cedars here that have been with me a very long time. As for soil, it wants what many plants want: moist but well-drained — so neither drying out, nor ever any swampiness where it doesn’t drain. I don’t know how clayey your soil is, or how poor the drainage is.

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