How to make the most of Conifers

The conifer section of this website is mainly concerned with garden conifers and therefore there is a larger concentration of medium, slow growing and dwarf conifers described in the text.

For the larger garden there should be room for either Cedrus deodara or the “Blue Cedar” Cedrus allantica ‘Glauca’. There is no reason why there shouldn’t be room for these for some years in the smaller garden also, but with both eventually reaching 20-30m. and a spread of roughly half that, the temptation is best resisted. Whilst it is easy to advise cutting the tree down after some years, when the size becomes embarrassing, it is not so easily achieved when the time comes. In some funny way one gets attached to a tree after having watched it grow for 30 years!

There is such a wide range of conifers that can be grown that it pays to choose carefully. The photographs shown alongside this text demonstrates uses to which conifers can be put. If there is an all purpose plant the conifer must be it; it has the decided advantage of being evergreen (apart from several notable exceptions) so one has colour and form the year round; it provides a background and maturity to any garden, and lastly but not least, most conifers increase in value as they get older.

It is not necessary to explain in detail what is evident from the photographs — the uses to which conifers can be put. The advantage of planting dwarf and slow growing conifers has become very evident in recent years, primarily because they are trouble free and because they lit in perfectly with the modern suburban garden. The shapes and forms of these fascinating plants provide a perennial interest, and contrary to some opinions, they do not look the same all the year round. The fresh spring growth of pines and spruces can give you an ever-changing pattern.

We are lucky that the English climate is so amiable, for it enables us to grow a wide variety of plants. We are not usually “frozen in” during the winter and can therefore see plants that are willing to give a show. This applies particularly to conifers and other evergreens including heathers. The summers are also not too hot, so therefore we can grow the golden foliage plants successfully. These tend to scorch in the United States for instance and are usually more prone to winter damage. It is most effective to plant dwarf conifers in groups and a small border with nothing else but these plants can be most attractive. They do have a habit of growing however and may occasionally need thinning out! A good combination of shapes and colours can be achieved by selecting carefully, making sure to keep the dwarfer and slower growing types to the front of the border. This area can also be a useful “nursery” planting where one can put in small plants for a number of years before transplanting to a more spacious position.

The dwarfer kinds do not fit in well with large trees or conifers—they should be kept in scale and not made to look ridiculous. A background of larger conifers of course is not detrimental, but it is obvious that a 9m. x Cupressocyparis leylandii will not look right planted next to a Picea mariana ‘Nana’ at 30cm. high, but the same age.

Conifers for Special Purposes


Chamaecyparis lawsoniana

x Cupressocyparis leylandii

Picea omorika

Pinus nigra

Thuja plicata


Chamaecyparis lawsoniana

x Cupressocyparis leylandii

Taxus baccata

Tsuga canadensis

Tsuga hetcrophylla

Thuja plicata

Thuja occidentalis


Abies balsamea ‘Hudsonia’

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Minima Aurea’

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana’

Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Nana’

Cryptomeria japonica ‘Vilmoriniana’

Juniperus communis ‘Compressa’

Picea glauca ‘Albertiana

Conica’ Picea abies ‘Gregoryana’

Picea abies ‘Nidiformis’

Picea mar iana ‘Nana’

Pinus sylvestris ‘Beuvronensis’

Thuja plicata ‘Rogersii’


Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Lanei’

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Minima Aurea’

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Pygmaea Argentea’

Picea pungens glauca—named cultivars

Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata Standishii’

Thuja occidentalis ‘Lutea Nana’

Thuja occidentalis ‘Lutescens’

Thuja occidentalis ‘Rheingold’

Thuja plicata ‘Stoneham Gold’

OR GROUND COVER—prostrate Juniperus communis

‘Repanda’ Juniperus conferta

Juniperus horizontalis—and cultivars

Juniperus procumbens ‘Nana’

FOR GROUND COVER—semi-prostrate

Juniperus x media ‘Hetzii’

Juniperus x media ‘Pfitzeriana’

Juniperus x media ‘Pfitzeriana Aurea’

Juniperus virginiana ‘Grey Owl’

FOR SHADE—no golden forms in any genera should be used

Chamaecyparis obtusa cultivars

Chamaecyparis pisifera cultivars

Cryptomeria japonica and cultivars

Juniperus x media cultivars

Juniperus sabina and cultivars

Taxus baccata and cultivars

31. August 2011 by admin
Categories: Conifers, Trees | Tags: | Comments Off on How to make the most of Conifers


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