Conifers are back in style- perfect for year round interest and colour!
There’s lots of variation and a wide spectrum of shades of grey, blue, yellow and even variegated conifers available for you to buy.
The green conifers are also endlessly varied. Look out for Microbiota with its magnificent bronze colouring in the autumn, or the brilliant yellows of Larix. Green or greyish blue conifer hedges can work very well, however too much yellow/gold conifer for hedging can be a bit bright.
A (greyish) blue cedar (Cedrus libani ‘Glauca’) is a magnificent solitary specimen which needs space in which to look its best, and a yellow variegated conifer like Thuja plicata ‘Zebrina’ rapidly makes its presence felt.
It is a matter of striking a balance. If you do that right, conifers can make a fantastic, lasting, low-maintenance contribution to your garden, however big or small it may be. Conifers always enrich your living space.
Where conifers grow
Most conifers like a light spot, but Thuja and Taxus in particular can tolerate a lot of shade. It is often thought that conifers like acid soil, but that is usually not the case. They can cope with any normal garden soil, although they prefer a slightly heavier light loam or clay soil.
Match conifers to garden situation
For smaller gardens avoid varieties which grow very quickly or get very big. It is best to buy good sized specimens of slow-growing cultivars for smaller gardens. It gives a mature look straightaway and there is virtually no pruning required.
The meaning of names
As you’d expect cultivar names sometimes tell you what sort of shape or colours the plant might produce. So ‘Columnaris’ means column-shaped, and ‘Globus’ means round. A name like ‘Piggelmee’ (a gnome in Dutch children’s books) tells you that it will remain small, as does ‘Blue Dwarf’ or names with ‘Nana’ in them.
‘Fastigiata’ means rising narrowly, and ‘Pendula’ is going to be a weeping form with overhanging branches. A shape like Juniperus scopulorum ‘Sky Rocket’ will go upwards in a very narrow shape, and Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Carpet’ will stay low, covering the ground.