Thursday, December 3, 2015

Tis the season for conifers

Well, the blogpost gremlin is playing tricks again. See my opening comments at the end of the photos before checking out the pictures.
Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Barry's Silver + Cham. obtusa 'Nana Lutea.' Two of my favorites in the dwarf conifer (DC) garden. I love the color of the former and the latter's wide 'branches' look like panels. It's all about contrasts and complementary looks in making a DC garden.

Cham. pisifera juniperoides aurea. This is one of the new additions to the garden. I like its bushiness, light green color and nice rounded form. 

Cham. pisifera 'Boulevard.' This handsome shrub will get to six feet and as you can already see it has a fat conical shape. Love its glaucous tones and dense habit.

Cham. pisifera 'Snow.' This shot is the one not from my garden but I love it all the same. It's aptly named, with its new tips a snowy white color. It forms a dense 2' x 2' mound, making it one of the few dwarf conifers commonly available to showcase this shape.

Cryptomeria japonica 'Knaptonensis.' Cryptomerias are commonly called Japanese cedars, though their variety makes them seem at first glance quite different from our association with western cedars. This two foot tall species features attractive bright white new growth, meaning it will enliven any shady spot in your garden. 

Cryptomeria japonica 'Vilmoriniana.' One of the distinctive features of this rounded shrub is its inclination to turn a bronzy color in the fall and winter, as it's done here.  The rest of the year the foliage is a light green. This little guy tops out at about 18."

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Rimpelaar.' Here's the first of the Youngblood photos. Another of the mounding varieties, Rimpelaar almost looks like a bluish-green hedgehog that's rolled up into a ball. Like many of the dwarf varieties, it looks best combined with other conifers or with compatible plants such as Hellebores, Euphorbias or Azaleas.

Possibly the bluest of all the dwarf conifers, this Cham. lawsoniana 'Blue Surprise' makes a great focal point in a conifer garden or dappled shade area. It gets to six feet so it has enough presence to really make a statement.

Cham. obtusa 'Gold Fern.' You can see how this beauty came across its common name. The delicate foliage reminds one a bit of an Asparagus fern and of course the new growth has a golden sheen. Its multi-branching thus more open habit belies its small stature. This guy only gets to 18" tall!

Cham. pisifera 'Curly Tops.' One of the most distinctive of the False Cypress, this beauty gets its name from its tightly curled tips. Add to that its rich colors and attractive shape and you have a highly sought after specimen. 

Pinus mugo. This dwarf Mugo pine (photo courtesy of Monrovia Growers) is a nice change of pace from the main two genera featured above. This guy tops out at 3-5' and is a bit wider, though it will take many years to reach full size. I just love everything about this guy!

It's December and the holiday season is upon us. For those of us not overwhelmed with the task of shopping, it's a good time to reflect upon one of the origins of Christmas. No matter your reference, Christmas involves a Christmas tree and that tree is of course a conifer. That's appropriate to the season, as deciduous trees have, or will soon, shed their leaves. Whether you have a conifer in your garden or simply enjoy their majestic presence all around us, they are a wonderful reminder of the season. Among other pleasures, they are popular with many seed eating birds. So, in the spirit of the season, here are a few of my favorite dwarf conifers. Some are in my dwarf conifer bed, while others are ones you may see in your local nursery or in a neighbor's garden.
They've also been on my mind due to an article I wrote about them for Pacific Horticulture magazine. That article will appear in the Winter issue, out in early January. The first batch of photos are mine, most of them from my dwarf conifer garden. The second batch, starting with the Chamaecyparis Rimpelaar, are courtesy of Youngblood Nursery. The last photo of the Mugo Pine is courtesy of Monrovia Growers. Here they are.

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