How conifers can rework your year-round backyard

Jenna Harris January 14, 2020 21 No Comments

The Middle-Sized Garden Blog

January 12th, 2020 Posted In: Garden developments & design

Conifers have had a foul popularity prior to now.

When Fergus Garrett of Great Dixter instructed a gaggle of Garden Media Guild journalists that he deliberate to make use of extra conifers within the backyard, a quiet shudder of alarm rippled by means of the room.

That was three years in the past. Yesterday I printed a video on How Conifers Can Transform Your Garden. In phrases of its first 24 hours, it’s my most profitable video but! Although it’s early days, it has double the views of most of my different movies in that time-frame.

Somehow probably the most unpopular plant in Britain is popping into one thing of a famous person.

I went to Lime Cross Nursery & Cafe, one of many UK’s main conifer growers, to speak to Vicky Tate about how as we speak’s conifers add construction and texture to the backyard all yr spherical, and why we’re lastly recovering from being over-shadowed by large, brown-tinged Leylandii.

Lime Cross Nurseries in Herstmonceaux in Sussex specialize in rising this previously unpopular plant.

Why had been they so unpopular?

Vicky thinks that folks didn’t know find out how to take care of the rows of overgrown and uncared for Leylandii cypress hedges, planted within the 1970s. ‘And the island bed with a Lawson cypress as a focal point was also popular around that time. The trees got too big, took up too much space and light, with dying branches.’

And it was arduous to search out the smaller and extra uncommon conifers that are actually proving so versatile in gardens.

Korean Fir 'Silver Pearl'

Grafted love topiary, this Korean Fir (Abies Koreana) ‘Silver Pearl’ is a shocking and strange plant for a pot.

Now there’s a large vary of conifers, lots of them dwarf varieties, which provide texture and construction to the backyard all yr spherical.

Conifers are a wide-ranging household of crops – they cowl pines, firs, cypresses, spruce, cryptomeria, podocarpus, junipers, yew and extra. There are even some deciduous conifers in addition to distant relations, akin to Gingko biloba.

What do you want to remember when purchase conifers?

Vicky advises you to test how briskly a conifer grows and what its eventual peak shall be. Many solely develop a number of centimetres a yr. And dwarf varieties will stay dwarf.

Conifers are typically straightforward care, however they like acid or impartial soil.

Fergus Garrett instructed us that he had began experimenting through the use of conifers in pots, primarily exterior the entrance door of Great Dixter. So in case your soil may be very alkaline, you may put the conifers in pots with ericaceous compost.

Conifers in pots at Great Dixter

I feel I counted 5 completely different species of conifer on this grouping of pots at Great Dixter, though they’re not all on this {photograph}.

Best methods to make use of conifers in a backyard

Vicky thinks that one great way to make use of a conifer within the backyard is as a focus. There are some wonderful upright and cone shapes which can preserve their structural qualities with very small pruning.

Conifers in the Lime Cross Nurseries garden

A sunny afternoon within the winter at Lime Cross Nurseries. They have a tiny conifer backyard which flashes off the beautiful vary of shapes and contrasting textures you could find in as we speak’s conifers.

Lime Cross Nurseries

With this quantity of color and distinction, it’s nearly unimaginable to imagine that this can be a backyard within the depths of winter. At the Lime Cross Nurseries.

Conifers additionally work effectively within the combine when you’ve got an unique backyard theme. They’re planted alongside palms and different tropical-looking crops within the unique backyard at each Great Dixter and RHS Wisley.

Conifer in the exotic garden at Great Dixter

A conifer within the unique backyard at Great Dixter

Some can even do the job that topiary does. Some have naturally sharp, sculptural shapes. And others might be trimmed love topiary.

The RHS has really helpful Podocarpus ‘Chocolate Box’ as an alternative choice to field. It has tiny chocolate-brown leaves and might be clipped into form so it might substitute any field topiary hit by field blight or field tree caterpillar.

Podocarpus 'Chocolate Box.'

Podocarpus laurentii ‘Chocolate Box’ doesn’t look love a conifer…however I’m starting to question what a ‘conifer looks like.’

Best conifers for tiny gardens

All the dwarf varieties will work effectively in pots and tiny gardens, says Vicky. We checked out plenty of tiny pines, notably Pinus mugo (Dwarf mountain pine) and Strobus pines.

Dwarf mountain pine 'Ophir'

This dwarf mountain pine (Pinus mugo) ‘Ophir’ will keep tiny and its golden color provides to the winter backyard.

Conifers for pots and small gardens

Two good tiny crops for pots or tiny gardens. On the left is Pinus heldreichii Schmidtii and on the left is Juniper ‘Blue Star’, which is low rising and would look good in a border, says Vicky.

Will conifers develop within the shade?

Vicky instructed me that conifers are primarily mountain crops so they like a light-weight scenario. They’re not going to be completely happy towards a North-facing wall and the aspect of the conifer that faces the wall might effectively go brown.

We have a huge cypress on a North-facing wall, however it has grown a lot greater than the wall so it will get mild from all sides.

Do conifers develop indoors?

Conifers are not any good as home crops. You could also be tempted by a number of the fairly dwarf varieties, however Vicky says that homes don’t have sufficient mild for conifers in pots. They won’t be completely happy. And everyone knows how unattractive an sad conifer is!

Why do they go brown immediately?

Vicky says that the number one cause for conifers immediately going brown on plenty of branches is lack of sunshine. There are additionally some ailments, however the chances are high that you just haven’t planted your conifer in a light-weight sufficient a part of the backyard.

What about pruning?

Anyone who’s ever pruned an overgrown Leylandii hedge is aware of that pruning conifers generally is a catastrophe. However, Vicky says that they differ: ‘The pines, cedars and cryptomerias are all easy to prune and shape because they grow back well. You have to be more careful about pruning cypresses, firs and spruce.’

If you’ve got an overgrown cypress Leylandii hedge, you gained’t be capable to reduce it again to a extra cheap form and measurement as a result of it gained’t regrow from previous wooden. However, Vicky factors out that Thuja occidentalis seems to be very related and can re-grow in the event you reduce it again too far. So there’s nearly at all times an alternate.

Can conifers be moved?

Like most mature bushes and shrubs, a conifer gained’t wish to be moved as soon as it’s bought its roots into the bottom. There’s typically very small level in making an attempt to maneuver a tree or shrub if it’s been rising in a single place for a number of years. It’s higher to purchase a brand new, youthful plant.

Some extra inspiring new varieties

Abies Koreana 'Icebreaker'

Another placing Korean Fir – Abies koreana ‘Icebreaker’ will keep dwarf and has beautiful blue needles.

Pinus mugo Dezember Gold

Another dwarf mountain pine – Pinus mugo ‘Dezember Gold’

unknown pine

This pine might definitely substitute topiary within the backyard!

See extra of the Lime Cross Nurseries in video

There are extra views of Lime Cross Nurseries and their big selection of various conifers, in addition to the backyard, store, cafe and wild swimming lake on this video:

You can even discover Lime Cross Nursery at a number of the plant gala’s, such because the twice a yr Great Dixter Plant Fair.

Shop my favorite gardening books, instruments and merchandise

I’m typically requested for my suggestions so I’ve put collectively lists of the backyard books, instruments and merchandise on the Middlesized Garden Amazon store. Note that hyperlinks to Amazon are affiliate, which suggests I could get a tiny payment in the event you purchase, however I’ll solely advocate issues I exploit myself or assume you’ll actually love.

For instance, here’s a checklist of my favourite gardening books.

Pin to recollect uncommon conifers

And do be a part of us each Sunday morning on the Middlesized Garden weblog!

Beautiful evergreen conifers for contemporary and traditional gardens #gardening #backyard #middlesizedgarden #gardendesign

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