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.
NZ's iconic native conifer. Slow growing but well worth the wait for the tree to mature into its stately form. When juvenile the foliage tends to have copper bronze tones but as the tree ages green is the more dominant colour. One to plant for your grand children! Est.10yr.growth.
Colour: Assorted Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 6m x 2.5m
A popular garden tree in subtropical areas, planted for its unusual effect of the thick, “reptilian: branches with a very symmetrical appearance. The crown becomes flat-topped with age. The seeds, similar to large pine nuts, are edible. Not tolerant of wet feet but will tolerate light frost. Evergreen
Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 24m x 0m
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/Wdth in 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/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 8m x 5m
Container: pb18 ?
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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 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!
Habit: Mounding Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 60cm x 50cm
Japanese Cedar. A fast growing and robust Conifer that is useful for screens and shelter belts and highly valued in the Orient as a timber tree. Forms a stately pyramidal tree if left untrimmed with curved needle foliage in green and bronze tones. Evergreen.
Colour: Assorted Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 11m x 6m
A selected form introduced and registered to Cedar Lodge of Taranaki. Exceptionally vigorous and hardy, tolerant of wind even salt laden, quick growing and a classic pyramidal shape. Used for hedging and shelter belts. Short curved needles of evergreen foliage and a straight trunk with reddish bark. A very useful Conifer.
Habit: Pyramidal Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 25m x 15m
A highly ornamental and architectural conifer that has a natural spreading and mounding shape. Slow growing with attractive blue-green foliage. Prefers a sunny spot but quite hardy and tolerant. Give this feature plant room to develop - looks very striking when mature.
Colour: Assorted Habit: Spreading Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 1.5m x 3m