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
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'
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'
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'
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
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
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
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
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
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