Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Colorful Evergreens in the Landscape-Part II: Blue Evergreens

Blue Evergreens in the Landscape
Are you looking to add permanent vibrant color to your landscape?  Well look no further. In the previous segment I discussed the implementation of colorful golden evergreens into the backbone or foundation of the landscape. There are also several varieties of blue evergreens that can act as a stand alone piece or complement the golden evergreens in your garden.  These varieties are hardy in a number of areas including USDA hardiness zones 2-8.
Cedrus atlantica glauca 'Pendula' (Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar)
The first in our series is among the most popular of the blue evergreens. Known for its graceful pendulous silvery-blue branches, Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus Atlantica 'Glauca Pendula') is an outstanding specimen.  Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar is hardy to USDA Zones 6-8, prefers an acidic-slightly to alkaline well-drained loam soil and location in full sun (6-8 hours sunlight). They are tolerant of many soil types but will not fare well in soils with poor drainage such as clay.  These magnificent trees can be trained as an upright or spiral trunk and can be maintained at a desired size through selective pruning.   Depending on the structure of your tree it can reach a height of 10-15 feet and a width of 8-10 feet across and would be difficult to transplant once established. Be sure to give it room to grow.  As your tree matures its cascading branches will drape down to the ground giving your tree grace and charm. 
Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca'
Belonging to the same genus, Upright Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca') is the upright larger form of blue cedar.  Reaching to a height of 40-80 feet this pyramidal evergreen is a wonderful stand alone piece.  This specimen enjoys a moist, well-drained acidic-slightly alkaline soil in full sun and is hardy to USDA zones 6-8.  Majestic in every way, Cedrus atlantica is one of the true cedars named after its native area, the Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco.  Blue Atlas Cedar rapidly grows upright over its first ten years then spreads to a width of 10-15 feet in the landscape.  Give it plenty of room preferably on its own berm and allow this showpiece to shine.
Picea pungens 'Montgomery' (Globe Blue Spruce)
For a smaller area in the garden add some blue by incorporating Picea pungens 'Montgomery' or Montgomery Globe Spruce.  Dwarf in stature, this globe-shaped evergreen exhibits compact bright blue needles on a flat-topped and densely branched shrub.  This specimen is excellent in tight spaces since it only reaches a height and width of 2-3 feet.  Globe spruce prefers to be grown in a moist, well-drained acidic soil and is hardy in zones 2-8.  Use this beauty as a focal point in the garden.  It serves nicely as a foundation planting or as an accent in an evergreen-perennial garden.

Picea pungens 'Fat Albert'
Used as an anchor in a foundation planting or as a privacy screen, Colorado Blue Spruce 'Fat Albert' is definitely a beauty.  'Fat Albert' is a slow grower, reaching to a height and width of 10-15 feet and gets its name from its wider appearance.  It is hardy in USDA zones 2-7 and prefers full sun and a moist but well-drained acidic soil.   Avoid planting this tree in a heavy clay soil as the roots will suffer from poor drainage.   Also it is very important that this tree receive  "full" sunlight meaning 6 or more hours of daylight daily in order to thrive and prevent fungal disease.   Give it this tree plenty of space to grow and it will provide color and structural interest to your landscape.  Picea pungens 'Hoopsi' is a narrower pyramidal form of this tree growing to a height of 15-18 feet.  

Picea pungens 'Bakeri'
Next is a more compact form of blue spuce-Picea pungens 'Bakeri' or Bakeri Spruce.  'Bakeri' spruce is hardy to USDA zones 2-7 and stays more pyramidal at a height of 15-18 feet and width of 6-8 feet.  This blue-green spruce prefers to be grown in full sun in a slightly acidic, well-drained soil.   This beauty also has a wide variety of uses such as a focal point in a foundation planting or as an accent tree in an informal garden.

Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star'
For a little blue along the perimeter of your garden try Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star'. Juniperus 'Blue Star' exhibits bright silver-blue foliage on low branching needles and grows to a maximum height of 2-3 feet making it an excellent foreground planting. This welcome member is hardy to USDA zones 4-8 and prefers to be grown in full sun in a semi-moist well drained slightly-acidic soil.  Once established this evergreen requires minimal watering.  Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star' works well as a mass planting, rock garden plant, seacoast planting or as an accent in a perennial border.

Next time you are looking to add some everlasting color and interesting texture to your landscape try adding a little bit of blue.  Complement the blue color of these fabulous evergreens with a little bit of gold, burgundy, purple or yellow.  The mixture of cool and warm colors will create a dramatic impact in your garden that will bring much enjoyment to your landscape.

Author:Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved

Friday, January 20, 2012

Colorful Evergreens in the Landscape-Part I: Golden Evergreens

Golden Evergreens in the Landscape
When planning a garden design it is important to incorporate interesting structure and color into the landscape so that there is eye-catching interest all year long. Golden evergreens will not only add structure but will enhance the landscape with their outstanding show of color. There are a variety of golden evergreens available to the homeowner to implement into the landscape. There are six in particular that I will focus on in this article that have proven to be hardy in the zone 7 northeastern garden and that will thrive in zones ranging from 4 to 8.
Picea orientalis 'Skylands'

The first in this series is Picea Orientalis 'Skylands' or Skyland's Oriental Spuce.  'Skylands' is a slow growing coniferous tree that prefers full sun to partial shade and is hardy in USDA zones 5-8. It is true that younger specimens of this tree can be prone to sun scorch so ideally 4-8 hours of sun is best. I have been successful when planting 'Skylands' in a southeasterly exposure in zone 7. Grow this tree in a moist well-drained acidic soil and apply mulch around the tree to protect the roots.  After ten years of growth Skylands reaches a height of approximately ten feet and a width of four feet and can grow to a height of 35 feet over time in ideal conditions. Being a slow grower and having a narrow stature this tree is ideal for smaller spaces. Its beautiful yellow-chartreuse candles and densely arranged needles make this tree a conversation piece in the landscape.  Mature trees develop small reddish-purple cones that only add to the beauty of this tree. This tree is truly a favorite!
Chamaecyparis pisifera filifera 'Gold Mop'

The next of the gold series is Chamaecyparis pisifera filifera 'Gold Mop' or Gold Mop Cypress. Gold Mop Cypress is a small golden conifer with delicate thread-like textured foliage. This relatively hardy shrub is best grown in full sun in a well-drained acidic soil in zones 4-8. It displays a low mounding mop -like appearance and reaches a height and width of 3 feet making it an excellent accent plant along with other evergreens and perennials. Chamaecyparis 'Gold Mop' retains its yellow-golden color all winter and stays compact unlike its counterpart 'Gold Thread' Cypress which becomes more bronzed and reaches a height of 15 feet over time.

Euonymus japonica 'Aureo Marginata'

Another favorite addition for golden color is Euonymus japonica 'Aureo Marginata' or Golden Euonymus which is not a conifer but rather a broadleaved evergreen. Golden Euonymus is hardy in USDA zones 6-8 and prefers a moist, well-drained neutral-acidic soil and full sun to partial shade. This evergreen displays yellow-green shiny foliage all year round and is fairly slow growing. It reaches a maximum height and width of 4-6' but can be kept compact with regular maintenance pruning. These shrubs serve nicely as either foundation plantings or in an informal garden.

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Aurea Nana'

Next on the list is Chamaecyapris obtusa 'Aurea' or Golden Hinoki Cypress.  Golden Hinoki Cypress ranges in a variety of sizes from the species 'Nana' which is dwarf in size (2-3' in height) to 'Compacta' which is medium height (10-20 ' in height) to 'Gracillis' (40-60' in height). Hinoki Cypress are hardy in USDA zones 4-8 and display luxurious golden twisted compact foliage throughout all the seasons. These evergreens prefer to be grown in full sun in a moist but well-drained acidic soil.  Some of the more popular varieties are Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Aurea Nana' (seen here), 'Verdoni' which displays a deeper yellow foliage and grows a bit taller to 6-8 feet and 'Confucious' which is a newer slower growing variety with broader yellow foliage on emerald green under layers and growing to 4-6 feet in height. 'Crippsi' is a popular golden variety growing to 15-30 feet and can be used as either a specimen or incorporated into a privacy screening. Each one of these varieties is more beautiful than the next and serve as excellent specimens in the landscape. Hinoki Cypress can be used as a focal point in a foundation planting or as a stand alone piece in a cottage garden, evergreen garden or perennial border. These magnificent beauties will add outstanding interest to just about any landscape.

Cedrus deodara 'Aurea'
Golden Deodara Cedar (Cedrus deodara 'Aurea') is another magnificent focal point in the landscape.  It is one of the larger golden evergreens ranging in size from 15-25 feet in height to 80-100 feet in height depending on the particular species. Deodara Cedar 'Aurea' displays a rich golden-yellow color on graceful wispy branches.  They prefer to be grown in full sun in a moist but well-drained soil and are hardy in USDA zones 6-8. Cedrus deodara 'Gold Cone' (shown here) grows to height of 20-30 feet and displays beautiful pendulous branches covered in green-yellow foliage and grows in a more vertical fashion thus taking up less space in the landscape than some other cedars. Golden Deodara Cedar is often used as an anchor plant or specimen planting in the landscape.

As Always...Happy Gardening.

Author:  Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2012.  All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day January 2012

The weather has been pretty mild so far but we are now feeling the cold as the temperature plummets to a chilly 27 degrees.   My zone 7 Long Island garden is in winter mode and just the bare bones are present.  One of the nice elements of winter is that the season supplies some down time to walk around the garden and take inventory.   I am already getting ideas for next season and the imagination is running wild.  It's only January and this gardener is already looking forward to next season with great enthusiasm.  As many a gardener may agree... gardening can go on all year....plan all winter and embellish all spring, summer and fall!

Winter is  a very good time to plan  the "foundation" of the landscape.  While gazing out my window on a cold winter's day a few years ago I came up with the idea for this crab orchard walkway.  It replaced an old cement pathway leading up to the front doorway that had lost its charm and did not have as many curves as the new updated version.  The new walkway gives a little element of surprise as it winds around the garden bends on the way to the front door.

Our stone walkway is surrounded by evergreen shrubs and sedges along with clusters of yellow, purple and pink perennials that bloom in the spring.  On the right there is a Weeping White Birch and down a way is a Weeping White Pine along with more evergreen shrubs.                             
Montgomery Globe Spruce
One aspect that I really do enjoy about gardening is incorporating many colorful evergreens. They are especially appreciated in the winter months when other shrubs and perennials become dormant. Here is one of my favorites...a Montgomery Globe Spruce.  

                     *  *  *

Montgomery Globe Spruce is a dwarf conifer that grows only to two to three feet in diameter and keeps its vibrant silvery-blue color all year round.  There are so many beautiful evergreens that are not at all green that can be brought into the garden. 

Some of the other evergreens that I enjoy are Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar, Weeping White Pine, Gold Spot Euonymus and Boxwood 'Wintergem' (pictured here).  I also have a special affection for my Picea orientalis 'Skyland' Yellow Oriental Spruce  (first photograph above front left) and Golden Hinoki Cypress (first photograph above front right).  Their golden hue is even more prominent in winter.

The berry producing plants such as holly, viburnum and this Nandina domestica (heavenly bamboo) are interesting at this time of year and the foliage stays evergreen as well.  I have had this Nandina domestica 'Gulf Stream' for many years now and it just keeps getting more interesting year after year.

Here in the backyard along my patio is a Weeping Pussy Willow along with Gold Mop Cypress, Blue Star Juniper, 'Repandens'  Spreading Yew and Barberry.   The crab orchard stone path leads from the patio to the back lawn.  In the summertime I like to sit out on my patio and gaze at this particular part of the garden.  For now I'll just dream about the peony, daylilies and purple salvia that will emerge in spring but at least there are my evergreens.


It wouldn't be the same if garden gal wasn't in the picture so here she is enjoying her mondo grass planter.

I found Garden gal in the local nursery years ago and she has been my whimsey in the garden ever since.  When I was about five I wore a hat just like hers and probably carried the basket of flowers to match.  She reminds me of myself...always a gardener at heart.


Pictured here is our pool covered up for winter and surrounding gardens. Again just the "bare bones" but the evergreens give something to look at through the back window.  I have  a feeling that it won't be long now until this poolscape is covered in snow since the temperatures are dropping. 

The back perennial garden sleeps.  When April arrives there will be various blooming bulbs including crocus, tulips and hyancinths.  Perennials such as coral bells, daylilies and balloon flower along with ornamental grasses and  evergreens will emerge later on.

Here the 'Star' Magnolia is forming its soft white flower buds for spring...

and the graceful Weeping Japanese Maple is showing its artistic framework...

As the sun lowers towards the horizon another day has passed, and the garden rests.

Much thanks to our hostess Carol at May Dreams Gardens for another Garden Blogger's Bloom Day. I hope you have enjoyed my January garden. Please be sure to stop by and visit our hostess for more January blooms around the world.   As always...Happy Gardening!

One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides. ~W.E. Johns

Author:Lee@ A Guide To Northeastern Gardening Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Gardening 2011: A Year in Review

2011 Gardening Year in Review
Welcome and happy new year! Another year has gone by and as we look back at the 2011 gardening season we can start to plan ahead for 2012. Overall it was a great year for my Long Island zone 7 northeastern garden with many new and exciting additions to both the shade and sun areas of the garden. With just the right amount of rainfall and sun the new additions got a wonderful start and the garden flourished to its full capacity.

Buddleia Lo & Behold 'Blue Chip' (Dwarf Butterfly Bush)
Full Sun

Out of all the additions I think the dwarf butterfly bush, Knock Out roses and heuchera are my top favorites. 

Double Pink Knock Out Rose

The double Knock Out roses in red and pink have bloomed the entire summer non-stop and are a constant show.  The dwarf butterfly bush has attracted more butterflies to the garden than I have ever seen and the heuchera...well they have just added so much color to the shade garden with their new shades of amber and lime.  I own five varieties of heuchera to date which include 'Palace Purple', 'Caramel', 'Solar Eclipse', 'Citronelle' and 'Plum Pudding'. 
Heuchera 'Citronelle'-Partial Shade/Indirect Sun

I have especially enjoyed how my newest addition, 'Citronelle' has added so much brightness to the shadier part of the garden.  You cannot go wrong with heuchera.  It adds such wonderful color and texture to the landscape and supplies interest even throughout most of the winter months.  I plan to add even more to my garden bed borders next season so keep the new varieties coming!

Heuchera 'Caramel'-Partial Shade/Indirect Sun

Also shown  is Heuchera 'Caramel' which looks great along with evergreens .  This variety seems to do well in a northeastern exposure and is adapting well to full sun or shade.  This is Heuchera 'Solar Eclipse', one of the newest members to the garden with its interesting variegated foliage. It prefers partial to full shade. 

Heuchera 'Solar Eclipse' -Shade

The 'Burgundy Glow' Ajuga has also added a lot of interest this season.  Even now in winter it displays a vibrant purple foliage that shows up magnificently against the green of the hollies behind them.

Ajuga 'Burgundy Glow'-Shade/Partial Sun

I must also mention my new favorite Endless Summer Hydrangea 'Twist & Shout'.    Its beautiful lace cap flowers are so delicate and breathtaking that I await in anticipation to see it bloom again next summer.  Every time I think they cannot develop a better hydrangea another variety is introduced that is just as alluring.

Hydrangea 'Twist & Shout' (Lacecap Variety)-Partial Shade

Looking back at 2011 it was a very productive year in the garden.  A garden certainly is a thing of beauty that constantly changes and that can be enjoyed for a lifetime.  I can wholeheartedly say that my garden has been such an important part of my life over all these years and it has provided me with more enjoyment than I could have ever possibly imagined.   I can also say the same about being a garden blog writer. I started writing almost two years ago and it too has brought so much joy to my life.  It has opened up a whole new avenue in communicating with fellow gardeners who share my passion.  It has also helped me to realize that gardening really can go on all twelve months of the year. 

Pink Lace Tulip-Full Sun

Thank you for sharing your love of gardening with me and I hope you enjoy viewing the photos.  Please share your own experiences as well.  I know I am already planning for the 2012 garden! 

Here are some more of this years newest additions.
Double Red Knock Out Rose-Full Sun
These new additions have brought lots of color and joy to my 2011 gardens and I have also enjoyed writing about them. Now the 2012 gardening season is underway! Happy New Year and Happy 2012!