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Thursday, November 14, 2013
Posted By: Lyle Courtice A.H. in Conifers

As a designer I have always been attracted to conifers as they offer an indispensible pallet of colour and texture to work with. When designing a garden conifers along with other year-round elements create the essential structural components or "bones" of the garden.

Below are just a few of the many conifers available, some are considered to be dwarf mainly due to their slower growth rates but like the Sciadopitys they can become stately trees in time. When planting consider the plants eventual size and adjust for it. Sizes given usually indicate a plant after about 10 years, but as we know plants do not stop growing so always allow for a bit more room so they can develop properly without being crowded out.

Many of the dwarf or slower growing forms also lend themselves perfectly to the rock garden or container.

Dwarf Balsam Fir

Dwarf Balsam Fir

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Slow growing evergreen with a dense mounding habit. New growth is bright lime green maturing to an attractive dark green. Must have sharp drainage, best in full sun but tolerant of partial shade. Not a good selection for very hot or dry locations. Height: 60cm Spread: 1m+ Zone: 3

Chamaecyparis obtusa Nana Gracilis

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Nana Gracilis'

Dwarf Hinoki Falsecypress

Still ranks as one of my favourite conifers. It makes a superb rock garden or container plant with a neat upright rounded form. The dense, crinkled fronds are a deep green and hold their colour well through the seasons. Full sun is best for maintaining a neat growth habit. Good drainage in average moist soil. Height: 1.25m Spread: 1-1.25m Zone: 5

Juniperus horizontalis 'Lime Glow'

Juniperus horizontalis 'Lime Glow'

Lime Glow Juniper

Slower growing form with a slightly upright spreading habit. The feathery foliage is bright yellow to lime-green changing to burnished bronze in winter. A durable evergreen tolerant of urban pollution, poor soils and hot dry locations (once well established). Full sun for best colouring. Height: 45cm Spread: 1m+ Zone: 3

Larix gmelinii 'Romberg Park'

Dahurian Larch

Larix gmelinii 'Romberg Park'

A deciduous conifer (drops needles in late fall) with dense branching that develops tufts of soft needles. Forms an undulating conical mound in time. New needles are a soft light green darkening by summer and turning a warm yellow in fall. Great in the rock garden. Full sun to light shade in moist, friable well-drained soil. Height: 1.25m Spread: 1.5m Zone: 2

Picea pungens 'The Blues'

Colorado Blue Spruce

Picea pungens 'The Blues'

Unique, slow growing specimen type conifer with no two being alike. Plants have an irregular spreading form with pendulous branching. Needles are a bright sliver-blue to steel blue at maturity which contrast nicely with yellow, green and burgundy foliage. Prefers full sun and is highly adaptable to almost any well-drained soil. Can be trained by staking to desired height and width*. Height: 2m* Spread: 2m* Zone: 3

Japanese Umbrella Pine

Japanese Umbrella Pine

Sciadopitys verticillata

Very slow growing tree with umbrella-like whorls of soft, dark green needles. Makes a handsome garden specimen with a dense conical habit in youth becoming more open with age. Grow in full sun to partial shade with some shelter from winter winds. Likes friable, well-drained moist soils; intolerant of hot dry locations. Will become a large specimen in time (10m+).Height: 3m+ Spread: 1m+ Zone: 5

Jeddeloh Hemlock

Dwarf Weeping Hemlock

Tsuga canadensis 'Jeddeloh'

Delightful, dwarf spreading conifer with a neat mounded form. New growth is bright green maturing to dark green with a soft texture. Ideal container plant. Tolerates shade quite well but is just as happy in full sun. Likes a cooler site with lightly moist, slightly acidic soil. Avoid hot dry locations. Height: 60-90cm Spread: 1-1.25m Zone: 4

Carstens Winter Gold Mugo Pine

Carsten's Winter Gold Mugo Pine

Pinus mugo 'Carstens Wintergold'

One of the finest of the gold-hued pines! Short, densely arranged needles are light green in spring and summer, turning to a rich gold tone in winter; colour will be most intense in colder climates like ours. Slow growing with a dwarf weeping form. Castens Wintergold is an outstanding specimen in smaller gardens, or as a plant for groupings to make a bold statement in larger landscapes. Best in full sun. Grows to 18 inches tall and 24 inches wide. Hardy in USDA zones 2-7.

Slowmound Mugo Pine
Slowmound Mugo Pine

Pinus mugo 'Slowmound'

Slowmound Mugo Pine is a hardy, durable pine that forms a low dense mound with an informal appearance. Slow growing - only 1-2 inches per year. Prefers to be planted in full sun, in moist but well drained soils. Grows to 2ft tall and 2-3ft wide at maturity.

 

Some more great selections:

  • Cephalotaxus harringtonia 'Fastigiata'
  • Chamaecyparis l. 'Aureomarginata'
  • Picea abies 'Cupressina'
  • Picea abies 'Little Gem'
  • Picea glauca 'Conica'
  • Pinus mugo 'Jakobsen'
  • Pinus parviflora 'Blue Angel'
  • Thuja occidentalis 'Golden Tuffet'
  • Thuja occidentalis 'Goldstrike'

As always, please call ahead to confirm availability. Our selection of dwarf conifers is always changing! If you need help selecting a few for your garden as any one of our expert horticulturists or consider our Garden Coach Service


Thursday, December 15, 2011
Posted By: Laurelle Olfdord-Down in Conifers
Picea omorika - Serbian Spruce Serbian Spruce
Picea omorika
Picea omorika or Serbian spruce; this stiffly upright form of spruce with it’s proudly upswept branches reminds me of a soldier standing stiffly at attention.
Many conifers take up a rather large footprint at the base and often for this reason people either choose the dwarf conifers or find something else to give them some height in the garden. This one gives you substantial height with very little width generally getting 20-25 feet in height and only about 6 feet wide at the bottom.
The lovely dark green short needles contrast nicely with the silvery undersides which you see quite nicely with the upturned branches. This conifer can get on quite nicely with good drainage, humic, slightly acidic soil in full sun to partial shade. There is also a very popular blue form called Picea omorika 'Bruns'.
Chamaecyparis nootkatensis Pendula Weeping Alaskan Cypress
Chamaecyparis nootkatensis 'Pendula'
I like this artistic West Coast looking conifer in groupings. We’ll call the form upright drooping. It has pea green branchlets with a slightly silvery blue underside. It holds out its branches in broad swoops while the branchlets dangle down like the tasseled ends of a shawl. - I like this artistic West Coast looking conifer in groupings. We’ll call the form upright drooping. It has pea green branchlets with a slightly silvery blue underside. It holds out its branches in broad swoops while the branchlets dangle down like the tasseled ends of a shawl.
Like picea abies it can give you height in a garden without a lot of spread. It can grow to about 20-25 feet with about 8 feet of artistic like spread. This conifer prefers full sun to partial shade in well draining humic and slightly acidic soil. There are also more blue hued versions available.
Chamaecyparis obtusa Fernspray Gold Fernspray Gold Hinoki Cypress
Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Fernspray Gold'
This is a lovely slow growing artistic conifer which grows to about 8feet in height by about 6 feet. It has bright gold outer branches and branch tips while the interior of the plant is a lovely fresh green. Its branches have a lovely fine fernlike texture.
This plant prefers a bit of dappled shade in the heat of the afternoon to avoid burning the gold branches. Provide ample moisture in a well drained site with a nice humic, slightly acidic soil and you will have a specimen that will have your plant loving neighbors talking! This plant also makes a lovely bonsai specimen.
Picea pungens Iseli's Fastigiata Iseli’s Columnar Blue Spruce
Picea pungens Islies Fastigiata
I couldn’t go without a blue could I! This variety of true blue spruce has a very slender growth habit. It grows very slowly to about 15-20 feet in height (still not there after 20 years) and about 7 feet wide.
A stunning specimen at the back of the border, place this tree where you want to draw the eye. The lovely icy blue colour contrasts so nicely with my dark greens and golds. This tree prefers full sun to get the best blue colour in well drained average slightly acidic soil.
Pinus cembra Klein
Photo Credit: Monrovia, Horticultural Printers
Silver Whispers Swiss Stone Pine
Pinus cembra 'Klein'
This compact soft looking mini-Christmas tree shaped conifer is another lovely variety for the smaller garden. It is slow growing to about 12 feet high by about 6 feet wide. The rich green needles in bundles of 5 are striped with white giving the tree an overall silvery green effect.
It is very densely branched and full looking. This specimen is best in full sun in well drained average to humic, slightly acidic soil. This little guy is on my must get for my garden list!
These and many other great conifers are always available at Arts Nursery. If you would like more information about which ones are right for you, call 604.882.1201 or come visit and we would be happy to assist!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Morgan Chinese Arborvitae

New Plant Introduction

Posted By: Rebecca van der Zalm in Conifers

Morgan Chinese Arborvitae
Thuja orientalis 'Morgan'
Morgan Chinese Arborvitae

This woody chameleon, native to Australia, is known for its gorgeous changing year-round foliage colour. Its summer lime-green foliage turns deep purple in fall, followed by fantastic rich orange colour during the winter months. A favourite plant among dwarf conifer enthusiasts. Grows 2-4 inches a year to a maximum height of 3ft in 10 years. Needs full sun.

This plant is generally available at Art's Nursery.
Please call 604.882.1201 to confirm availability.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Posted By: Laurelle Olfdord-Down in Conifers

ConifersI’ll admit it, even though I graft heritage Apple trees and adore herbs and veggies and grasses, conifers are my favorite groups of plants.  When all others have gone to sleep for the winter, the conifer stands steadfast and brightens the rainy winter months. 

Each year I find some new excellent varieties to fall in love with and this year is no different.  They are the garden bones, they provide the structure for a good design and given the right spot and conditions they are the tough fullbacks of the garden.
The adage ‘The Right Plant in the Right Place’ is never truer than with conifers.
Conifers need drainage.  Putting a conifer into a soggy or heavy clay site is often one of the fastest ways to kill it.  Planting it too deeply, another efficient way to get rid of it.  If you moosh it in with a lot of other plants…you will get to enjoy its bare branches, as those that aren’t getting enough light and elbow room will lose their needles. They do not require much if any grooming or feeding.  Average slightly acidic soil with some evergreen food in early spring is a good idea.
Their needs are not many but are very specific, however if you put a conifer into a lovely well drained spot, plant at the correct height and give it sufficient sun for most (though not all) and elbow room, you will be rewarded with an extraordinary specimen of a plant that draws the eye at any season.
Texture, colour and structure in just about every size are the specialties of this plant, something winter gardens are often sadly lacking.
There are specimens for almost every type of garden from pint sized bonsais, to dwarf rockery style plants, to slender upright conifers for small space gardens, to artistic weepers for a sloped or streamside planting, to impressive sentinels for larger gardens or windbreaks.
Conifers are one of the most multipurpose groups of plants.
It is worth a wintertime wander through the UBC Botanical Gardens or VanDusen Gardens to inspire you.
After observing my garden slowly melt away from the voracious driveway eating perennial zoo to bare earth, twigs and wet leaves, I have a hankering for some form, texture and colour now, what to choose…


Here are my 5 fave dwarf or smaller conifers:

Abies balsamea Nana Dwarf Balsam Fir
Abies balsamea ‘Nana’
It is a luscious deep dark green low flat round evergreen with the most amazing electric lime new growth in the spring.  This lovely little fir grows to about 3 ½ feet by 3 ½ feet verrrrry slowly.  It prefers part sun to dappled shade.  The deep dark green contrasts rather nicely with a variegated Hellebore or a golden leaved hosta in the summer.
Chamaecyparis obtusa Verdonii Verdon Dwarf Hinoki False Cypress
Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Verdoni’
In spite of the huge moniker, this is a lovely variety for the small garden.  With fan like sprays of limes, darker greens and golds, this artistically growing Hinoki Falsecypress will brighten up a drab corner of the garden.  It is another extremely slow grower with eventual heights from 4-6feet high and a very slender 3’ wide.  It prefers sun to part shade and unlike a few Hinokis this gold foliage won’t burn in full sun.
Picea omorika Nana Dwarf Serbian Spruce
Picea omorika ‘Nana’
A shrimpy version of one of my fave conifers for the small garden.  It has the stiffly upright branch growth of the original Picea omorika, and the lovely bi coloured effect of green with blue because you get to see the undersides of its needles which are striped.  This little guy can take full sun to part shade and slowly grows to about 4-6feet in height and 3-6 f feet in width.
Abies koreana Silver Show Silver Show Korean Fir
Abies koreana ‘Silver Show’
I love the bi-coloured effect of the rich green topsides of the needles and the silvery undersides.  The needles are held upright along the branches so you get to see the silver undersides.  It always looks snowy.  This is a true collector type, often hard to find but worth the hunt.  It is a slow grower to 5 feet tall by 3 feet wide.  It prefers full to part sun.
pinus carstens winter gold Carstens Winter Gold Pine
Pinus mugo ‘Carstens Winter Gold’ 
I fell in love with this one on a miserable cold, misty rainy evening.  I could see it clear across the courtyard.  I had to see what was still looking so cheery buttercup yellow on such an evening.  This exceptional plant only grows about 2 inches a year into an eventual 4feet high by 2 feet wide. This little guy prefers full sun for best colour.
These and other gorgeous conifers are usually available at Art's Nursery. Please call 604.882.1201 to confirm availability if you are looking for a specific size or variety. Stay tuned for parts two and three of my favourite conifers series - coming soon!

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Art's Nursery is a 10+ acre retail and wholesale garden centre located in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. We've been in business at this same location since 1973 and we're proud to serve you today!

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Our plant selection is so large that you can actually drive a golf cart while you shop!

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