From massive forest giants to miniscule mounds of elegant foliage, the Conifer family contains a wide variety. The name "conifer" comes from Latin and means "to bear cones." Although cones are a common feature of most conifers, Junipers and Yews are two exceptions that produce berry-like fruit, which, in the case of Juniper berries, are used to make the G part of the G&T!
Among the conifers are some of the smallest, largest and oldest living woody plants known. The more than 500 conifer species are distributed worldwide and are invaluable for their timber as well as their adaptability as garden plants for year-round interest.
The diversity of available conifers for the landscape is tremendous. Nurseries and plants people are devoted to the discovery and introduction of new selections that vary in size, form, color and texture. There has been special interest in the group of conifers classified as "dwarf conifers." One definition of a dwarf conifer is one that fails to attain the size and stature of the parent plant. These smaller growing varieties are invaluable in the smaller space garden designs.
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The form most commonly associated with conifers is the familiar conical shape of Christmas trees; yet, for the landscape, the range varies from the vertical form of tall columnar plants, globose or rounded forms, spreading forms and the horizontal forms of flat ground covers.
Garden conifers come in a rainbow of year-round colours that can be used effectively in creating colour schemes with other plants. Many are shades of green, yellow, orange, blue, lavender, grey or purple, while others are bicolor and have variegated foliage.
Many go through seasonal color changes and provide interest in the winter landscape. In the spring, lighter shades of new growth contrast against the darker older foliage. In some cases, new growth emerges not just as a lighter shade but as a bright yellow or red, rivaling any floral display. Some even display two colors of needles. On other conifers, the cones and seed-bearing fruits are brightly colored and decorative during certain seasons of the year.
The landscape uses are limited only by the imagination. The strong silhouettes of many compact, slow-growing conifers can accent a corner of a garden bed, frame a doorway or add winter interest to perennial and annual flower beds.
Use conifers in foundation plantings, borders or island beds with other shrubs. Plant a mixture of different conifers, blending the various textures, shapes and colors, for a unique low-maintenance landscape.
Use large specimens amid expansive lawns and miniature specimens to view up close in containers, troughs or rock gardens. Don't forget that conifers are also stalwart hedging and windbreak plants.
The natural growth pattern of a normal or dwarf evergreen is a large part of its charm. Some evergreens can be severely pruned while others will respond to light pruning.
A wonderful upright conifer with even tiers of branches around the central trunk. Quick growing and tolerant of coastal conditions where it will happily withstand salt laden winds. Not tolerant of harsh frost or wet feet. Will grow in a container. Looks good as a Christmas Tree. Evergreen.
Colour: Assorted Habit: Upright Est. Hgt. 7/10 yrs: 10m x 5m
Indian Cedar. This Conifer will grow into a handsome majestic tree if allowed the space to mature. Upright and pyramidal in shape it has evenly spaced branches draped with blue-grey needles of foliage. The branches are slightly pendulous at the tips. Plant in the sun. Evergreen.
Colour: Assorted Habit: Upright Est. Hgt. 7/10 yrs: 8m x 5m
A useful little Conifer with fresh golden layers of foliage a neat domed shape habit. Useful for adding structure and will fit into the smallest of gardens. Plant in the sun, in well drained, deep acid soil for best results. Tough as. Evergreen.
Just so you know the 'Nana' part of this plant name means Dwarf in Latin i.e. it is not a plant only suitable for Nanas!
A slow growing, pyramidal conifer with vivid blue grey foliage that shows its best colours in winter but the colour is impressive at other times of the year too. Great contrast among low growing foliage plants. Evergreen
'Ellwood's Variegata' is a slow-growing, narrow columnar, evergreen conifer making a large shrub of compact habit. Foliage is rich green and handsomely flecked with gold. Wonderful contrast plant, great in rockeries or combined with maples. Prefers moist well drained soil that is slightly acid. Evergreen
Gold Splash is an attractive varietated conifer. It has blue green foliage that is richly splashed with golden yellow. The foliage colour intensifies over spring and summer. Excellent rockerie garden choice. Evergreen
This is an advantageous conifer in that it has quick but dense growth in a beautiful columnar habit. Makes great hedge both cut or natural. Intense blue leaves look great contrasted against other conifers, maples or azaleas for a splash of colour. Evergreen
A very neat and tidy little conifer with fresh green foliage all year round. It is the perfect upright globe shape making it ideal for formal courtyards, accent points and it looks good in a container. Likes the sun and well drained soil. Slow growing and easy care. Evergreen.
Colour: Assorted Habit: Upright Est. Hgt. 7/10 yrs: 30cm x 30cm