Sunday, February 21, 2010

Thinking Spring-Color in the Garden Part I: Evergreens

Hinoki Cypress 'Crippsi'
The snow is finally starting to melt here in the northeast and thoughts of spring and returning to the garden are going through my mind.  Since evergreens are the "foundation" of the garden I am going to start with these wonderful all season interest plantings.  Evergreens of course are known for their ability to screen, add privacy to a spot and serve as the ultimate backbone of the garden.  Evergreens can sometimes be underestimated with the misunderstanding that they lack color and variety of texture but quite the opposite is true.  These dependable additions can add variety and color twelve months of the year.  The varieties I will be discussing do apply to zone 7 but are quite versatile and can be used in a number of climate zones.

Some of my favorite evergreens for brightening up any garden include the genus picea (spruce), chamaecyparis (cypress), juniperus (juniper) and cedrus (cedar).   In the spruce catergory-the Colorado Blue Spruce 'Hoopsi' is a favorite which grows to an average of fifteen feet in 10 years, stays at smaller size than an ordinary spruce and exhibits a characteristic  blue color throughout the year.  A smaller globe variety shrub form of the blue spruce is the 'Montgomery' Globe Spruce, another nice addition to any well lit garden. 

'Gold Mop' Cypress
The genus chamaecyparis includes my favorite golden additions to the garden including chamaecyparis pisifera 'Gold Mop'-an evergreen shrub growing to approximately three feet in height over time, much smaller than its predecessor the 'Gold Thread' cypress which can reach an eventual height of fifteen feet.   The 'Crippsi' Cypress is a lovely larger form of  chamaecyparis reaching fifteen to thirty feet over time and the dwarf golden form of hinoki cypress chamaecyparis obtusa 'Nana Aurea' only reaches about four feet and is a prize in the landscape.   I must not forget to mention another golden variety - a personal favorite of evergreen which is not a cypress but rather the genus picea (spruce) which I have recently added to my garden.   If you area a spruce enthusiast then the Oriental Gold Spruce, picea 'Skylands' is by all means one of the most beautiful evergreen trees imaginable and makes a grand stand alone statement to the evergreen-perennial garden.  

Juniperus 'Blue Star'
In the genus juniperus there are so many selections as well but the two I favor for instant color are juniperus 'blue star' - blue in color as the name indicates and juniperus 'gold lace'-not as golden as the 'gold mop' cypress but rather a mix of green and gold and bit more whispy in the garden.    Those of you who would like a little gold in the garden but not too much would prefer this particular evergreen. 

Deodara Cedar
Last but by no means least are the Cedars.  Cedrus deodara 'Aurea' is  magnificiant golden cedar which steals the show for any area where you have good lighting and plenty of space. This beauty can serve as an "anchor' plant for a foundation planting but allow it enough area to grow and make sure the center portion of the tree is planted an average of seven to ten feet away from the foundation (the further the better) to ensure proper distance from the exterior of your home- then enjoy this beauty.  Two other stand alone pieces in the genus cedrus are cedrus atlantica 'Glauca Pendula'  and cedrus atlantica 'Glauca'-both blue in color similar to the blue spruce however less of a "bottle brush" look to the needles as in the genus picea.  The weeping form (pendula) can be used as a foundation planting or in any garden and the later upright form can be used as a stand alone piece where they is plenty or room as it can also reach up to eighty feet in height under optimum conditions.  
Cedrus atlantica 'Pendula'
 (Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar)

I am hoping you have found the information in the above segment both informative and useful. This is the first in a series of three articles on color in the garden.  Parts II and III will focus on the usage of flowering shrubs and perennials to add everlasting color and interest to your landscape.

Author:Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved


  1. My skylands has me concerned... I really want this to develop into a nice specimen. It is about 4' tall and has been installed for three years. It burns in spring and the rabbits love it. Is there any hope? I imagine it will be necessary to do some pinching to encourage filling out? By the way it is not in full sun. Do these simply take some "time to come into their own"? Enjoying your postings! LC

  2. Hi LC-
    It is difficult to say why your Skyland is having problems without seeing it but it may be that in Spring the surrounding trees have not filled out yet with foliage so your tree may be getting too much intense sun. I do know that Skylands grow best with about a half a day of sun and prefer some partial shading during the intense heat of the afternoon. Is it possible that your tree is developing winter burn and you notice it in the Spring?-just a thought. Another thing is that Skylands burn with too much wind so it cannot be in an open windy location. Try giving your tree an early Spring feeding (deep root if you can) with nitrogen and essential microorganisms and for the rabbits there are products you can buy to repel them. Hope this helps.


Thank you for visiting. I love reading your comments and knowing you have been here, and will try to reciprocate on your blog. If you have any questions I will try my very best to answer them. As always...HAPPY GARDENING!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...