slideshow: beloved conifers

abies-koreanaS HOPPING FOR PLANTS, ARE WE? Make a stop in the conifer section for the most obvious of year-round-interest garden additions. I wish I’d started planting conifers earlier in my gardening career, but thankfully some of those added this last decade (like the Korean fir, above) have started to really shape up. Shall we have a look, this time in a slideshow?

You may remember some of these from A Way to Garden’s series on beloved conifers: You can find those plant profiles by going to this easily browsable page. Many links to individual plant portraits are listed below. But first, the tour (click on the first thumbnail to start the slideshow, then navigate from image to image by clicking the arrows beside the caption):

Favorite Coniferous Trees

(click any green type to link to the profile of that plant)

Golden hinoki cypress, Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Crippsii’

Japanese umbrella pine, Sciadopitys verticillata

Concolor fir, Abies concolor

Weeping Alaska cedar, Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Pendula’

Korean fir, Abies koreana

Lacebark pine, Pinus bungeana

Favorite Coniferous Shrubs

Russian arborvitae, Microbiota decussata

Golden spreading yew, Taxus baccata ‘Repandens Aurea’

Dwarf white pine, Pinus strobus ‘Nana’

  1. Brian G. says:

    Today is a day I read most things with a wary eye lest I be hoodwinked. I hope this isn’t an April fool scam and it turns out your garden doesn’t even exist. That would be cruel, very cruel;)

  2. Deb says:

    Hmmmm, that’s an interesting post. I always thought they needed quite a big garden. Conifers are not something I would naturally gravitate towards but will now check some out at the garden centre…..

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, Deb. Don’t wait like I did (for more than 10 years to plant most of them). Choose ones that suit your property scale-wise, of course. I look forward to hearing what you choose. See you soon again.

  3. Abby Jane says:

    You are growing some of my favorites. Try some of the Picea orientalis. A golden one is Skylands. Wonderful. One of the best dwarf conifer nurserymen is in your area — Dennis Dodge of Bethlehem Nursery in Bethlehem, Conn., just south of White Flower Farm. Among others Dennis collects various forms of the umbrella pine. Different variegations, miniatures. They take your breath away and can turn the most avid disliker of conifers into an obsessed collector.

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, Abby Jane. Love ‘Skylands,’ an amazing golden conifer. I have two young trees, not really showy enough to document yet but coming along. Thank you for the reminder…maybe one is ready for its closeup after all. :)

  4. Jayne Rogers says:

    Your conifers are amazing; what do you feed them? And now that April is here, may I ask what organic fertilizer you are using on your beds this year, and where do you get it? A visit to Home Depot was not satisfying in that regard!

    1. margaret says:

      @Jayne: When I need fertilizer, I simply use the brand available at the local farm and garden supply place (after reading the label to see what’s inside). I like a fertilizer with multiple ingredients so that not all the nutrients are released at the same time (so it might have several kinds of meals, a manure, and various other items listed as what it’s “derived from”). Espoma brand is popular here and widely available in my region in the large bags I need, for example, in different formulas (like for bulbs, vegetables…). As for the conifers, I don’t really feed them regularly at all, but the times I have fed one or another, I have chosen a formula geared to their needs.

  5. Joan says:

    I have this mature yew hedge, 50 year old, made up of I think 15 shrubs, 8 of which were badly mangled by a truck this winter. It lines a driveway, takes the brunt of the west winds and sun, and offers birds a place to hunker down. I now have an impending deer problem, so replacing it with yew is probably not advisable. I need something that could be kept about 6′ and take the wind. Any suggestions?

    Your trees are gorgeous, but too tall for this situation.

    I’m on the north shore of LI, near Stony Brook.

  6. Sharon says:

    Margaret, are there any dwarf spreaders that can tolerate dampness?

    We had small yews in front of floor to ceiling windows that made it for several years, and are giving up one by one after heavy-snow winters causing the ground to stay too damp with a very slight roll toward them. I’d give anything not to look straight into bare twigs all winter from our breakfast table.

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Sharon. “Wet feet” in winter kills many a plant. Here in the North I don’t think there’s a more deadly condition, really. I cannot think of a conifer that will handle that — though the colorful twig dogwoods and willows would. That might be a better choice!

  7. Margaret says:

    You have so many of my favorites! My parents have a few Sciadopitys verticilata which they inherited from the previous homeowners. I loved playing around them growing up (doll parasols!) and I didn’t realize how special they were until I took a class on conifers. I am working on my wish list for when we eventually take down the 3 Leylandii that our predecessors planted about 5 feet apart, plus a dying Cornus florida. We have a small lot so I have to be selective and go for dwarf or dwarf-ish cultivars. I am thinking about Abies koreana ‘Silberlocke’ (but not sure if it will hack it in zone 7), Pinus parviflora ‘Glauca nana’, and Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Boulevard’.

  8. Georgia Cinq-Mars says:

    Beautiful trees some I have coveted. Is there a favorite’s list for native to the Northeast conifers? I’m still exploring the website so I may have missed it. I’m not opposed to inviting other plants in but I start my searches with natives.

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Georgia. I don’t have a native conifer list (though I am in the Northeast too). Notably I guess we have Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana — there are some bluer and low-growing ones now like ‘Gray Ghost,’ not just big trees) and Eastern white pine and a few other pines, various spruces, larch (deciduous)…we used to enjoy hemlock but the insect pest called woolly adelgid has made that hard or impossible to grow. We also have Thuja occidentalis (Northern white cedar) and I suspect I am forgetting some others…oh, yes, Balsam fir (an Abies). Maybe look at the plant search database at GoBotany and click on the results and look at the maps for native range of each one as a start?

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