Season changes, conifers give it grace

Dwarf evergreens bridge a seasonal transition

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We hit, says P.M., in recommending the addition of dwarf conifers to a landscape full of perennials.

"I admired them all winter. When spring came and I might have been down about the ragged interface between last year's perennial debris giving way to this year's greenery, the color change and new growth beginning on the conifers kept me smiling."

What drew our attention all winter also stars in summer. A dwarf conifer's steady presence provides background for more ephemeral plants and establishes focus to smooth seasonal transitions. (Above and below, left: the weeping form of eastern white pine, Pinus strobus 'Pendula')

What drew our attention all winter also stars in summer. A dwarf conifer's steady presence provides background for more ephemeral plants and establishes focus to smooth seasonal transitions. (Above and below, left: the weeping form of eastern white pine, Pinus strobus 'Pendula')

Conifers are no slouches when it comes to seasonal color change. When swelling new growth pushes off its bud caps, this spruce that's already a beautiful blue, glows.

Conifers are no slouches when it comes to seasonal color change. When swelling new growth pushes off its bud caps, this spruce that's already a beautiful blue, glows.

Above, and at top of page: Winter or summer, eastern white pine has a luminosity that is fine to see. We've occasionally heard people say "But weeping white pines look like shaggy blobs." In that case we think you are not *pruning them to suit your taste. Perhaps you're clipping branches as they reach the ground, as well. Don't hesitate to prune this fast-growing dwarf, and do consider giving it room all around so it can develop a flowing skirt.

Above, and at top of page: Winter or summer, eastern white pine has a luminosity that is fine to see. We've occasionally heard people say "But weeping white pines look like shaggy blobs." In that case we think you are not *pruning them to suit your taste. Perhaps you're clipping branches as they reach the ground, as well. Don't hesitate to prune this fast-growing dwarf, and do consider giving it room all around so it can develop a flowing skirt.

pruning them to suit your taste.

Favorites of a conifer connoisseur

Two of our favorite people support us and many other gardeners in sorting out dwarf conifers. Our Forum moderator Dennis Groh and his wife Carole Groh maintain their own big conifer collection and work through the American Conifer Society to help others learn about these plants.

Their own favorites? Weeping eastern white pine (above, Pinus strobus pendula) and Alaska falsecypress (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis).

They said it was  a "dwarf" but it's 10' and  just keeps growing!

Don't let the term "dwarf" mislead you. It's shorthand for "Smaller than the species norm." So those in the know expect this weeping Alaska false cypress to top out at about 30.'  That does make it a half-size dwarf compared to the average member of its species, and gives it the rating "Large garden conifer." Visit the website of the American Conifer Society for what to expect from plants in four categories: large, intermediate dwarf and miniature.

 

Weeping Alaska false cypress

Weeping Alaska false cypress

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