Saturday, February 16, 2013

My Conifer Collection

Small, ornamental evergreens are fascinating to most home gardeners I know. Once you get beyond the foundation plants you might inherit or the yew, pine or spruce planted as landscape trees, finding small, affordable conifers can be challenging. My sister gave me the birds nest juniper shown above when I had surgery over a decade ago. Often as the birds nest juniper matures it suffers die off in the center. Careful pruning has so far kept my birds nest from this fate.

At over ten years old it is about a foot tall and maybe 2 1/2 feet wide. Here it looks its best after spring bud break, showing its new growth.

This next is a boulevard cypress. I like its soft blue foliage. This plant has a bad tendency of suffering a lot of browning in early spring from dessication from winds in March and April before it is actively growing. It spendsMay looking like a poodle after grooming. This unnatural appearance just about buys it a ticket to the compost bin, but by the time I get around to it, it has regained its high summer beauty. It is about 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide at ten years, in which it has suffered a lot of necessary pruning, particularly as it was also not well placed.

I have managed to collect quite a few. Here in central WI it is nice to have some shade of green in the garden in winter, when the snow recedes to apoint when they can actually be seen. Conifers are enot the only evergreens in my winter garden. Ice Dance carex, iberis, phlox subulata, cotoneasters, Korean boxwood, and azaleas round out my collection.

This next is the Japanese cypress, cryptomeria Sekkan Sugi. This has suffered dieback on any tips above the snowline. I keep hoping it develops beyond this fault. Last year, a short and mild winter lead to a long growing season in which it grown twice as big as it has any other year. Typically this japanese cypress grows upright with a central leader. Previously, that central leader has always died back resulting in a rangey, mounding, multi-stemmed appearance.

This is juniper horizontalis 'Gold Strike'. It is new to my garden this last year. Its gold tips will hopefully brighten a spot near my apple tree and near the Japanese peony bringing out the blue sheen of the peony's foliage.

I also have juniper Blue Star, the upright Witchita, and a weeping larix rounding out my conifer collection.

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