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Dwarf & Ornamental Conifers - a closer look

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It seems that conifers are getting a bad press once again. The guilty party this time was the recent Gardeners World’ programme on BBC 2. I always find it disappointing, when in my opinion, so-called gardening experts, presenters, and designers take it upon themselves to make unfavourable comments about conifers. I can only conclude that this comes with a lack of any real knowledge about these plants and how to use them in the modern garden and landscape. The negative side of conifers is no more prevalent than any other group of plants, and in part can probably be attributed to the paranoia that has surrounded the use of leyland cypress ( x Cupressocyparis leylandii)
In fact conifers are the most diverse group of plants on the planet, and included here are just a sample of photos to show some of the more subtle changes and textures that some conifer cultivars display especially at this time of year and can be all too easily overlooked by many gardeners.
Of course I don’t expect everyone to start filling their gardens with conifers, I just hope that perhaps some of you might look at conifers in a slightly more positive light ?


The contrasting male pollen cones on Abies amabilis ‘Spreading Star’


And yes! pollen cones can come in different colours as demonstrated on another fir, Abies alba ’King’s Dwarf’


Contrasting new seasons growth emerging from a spruce, Picea mariana ‘Aureovariegata’


The emerging new growth on this spruce, Picea pungens ‘Maigold’ retains this creamy-white colour for several weeks into early summer, before toning back down to its usual light green.


The contrast between newly emerging growth with old is clearly demonstrated on this very dwarf spruce, Picea abies ‘Silberkissen’


And again with the new candle growth on a dwarf pine, Pinus sylvestris ‘Fairy Nuff’


These prolific female cones appear every year on this particular dwarf blue spruce, Picea pungens ‘Hermann Naue’


Close up detail of a young female cone on Abies koreana ‘Blue Magic’


This golden Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Goldrush’, is a deciduous conifer, and has only been available in the UK for about ten years, an excellent recent introduction, but does need a bit of space.


Another deciduous conifer, Larix decidua ’Horstmann’s Recurved’, displaying immature female cones in early spring.


detail of foliage on Abies procera ‘Blaue Hexe’

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Comments

 

Amazing selection and great pictures bluespruce. I'm nearly converted :-)
Actually, I do have four different conifers in the garden - Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Nana Gacilis', Juniperus squamta 'Blue Star', Picea glauca albertiana 'Conica' and Thuja occidentalis 'Danica'

27 Apr, 2009

 

I have just bought and planted this weekend a Picea glauca albertiana 'Conica'.

27 Apr, 2009

 

Thanks Andrew, nice to see you have a few, you could almost include your Ginkgo biloba 'Everton Broom' :o)

27 Apr, 2009

 

Trees, nice conical spruce - watch out for the occasional infestation of spider mites, 'Conica' is a bit susceptible, but a great plant all the same.

27 Apr, 2009

 

Bluespruce ~
This is an excellent blog with lovely photos and fascinating information.
Gardeners' World should film a one hour special about you and your conifers ... or maybe several one hour Bluespruce specials throughout the year.... :o)

27 Apr, 2009

 

I love conifers. They give great structure especially in winter. They are the best all year round plant in my opinion and there are so many small ones available that don't need much space. They are popular here in Hungary. Every house has conifers and it's traditional to have a big one in front of your house, which I do not totally agree with.

28 Apr, 2009

 

I had a few different conifers in my old garden. I like them. I wasn't going to get any for this garden because I always think of them as growing too big, but I'll try and get some dwarf ones I think.
I heard the comments made on gardener's world. I don't know why these "experts" try and tell you what you should and shouldn't like. I never do what I'm told by people on the tv. I like what I like and it's none of their business. You have some lovely conifers.

28 Apr, 2009

 

the mistake I guess is in what we are listening, from tv, sales person from the nursery. For example, in my country, where I work as a horticultural designer, the people are changed. When you talked to them, they often says, please put something so my neighbor won't look at my yard. And then you put high hedge, always x Cupressocyparis leylandii, variegata for or the common one. So, it is my duty and the ones that are really in to this matter to explain to people, what to use and why.
And yes, there are too many conifers dwarf species that can be implemented in residential areas.
Also, in my country, the public areas are devastated with Thuja (orientalis or occidentalis). There are using at like there is no other thing to put.
I really hope that things will really change.

28 Apr, 2009

 

Conifers are great, it is the way PEOPLE have used them that has given them a lousy reputation. All too often plants are bought on impulse, they look so good when they are displayed for sale. Purchasers may think twice if they knew how big the plant could grow, or what it looks like at other times of the year.
I love monkey puzzle trees, and my eye is often caught by specimens growing in other people's gardens. We drove past one the other day which had been planted in a small front garden tight up against the fence. I doubt that the owners or their neighbours are going to be enamoured with the tree in years to come, when it overhangs both gardens completely. Such a beautiful tree deserves being planted in an open space where it can spread its branches and be part of a much larger picture..

28 Apr, 2009

 

Thank you all very much for your comments, it's nice to see some of you do appreciate conifers.
Terratoonie, a one hour Gardeners World special! - I should be so lucky :o)

28 Apr, 2009

 

What absolute beauty. I had no idea conifers were like yours. Well done on your collection.

1 May, 2009

 

Lovely selection of photos Blue, you have a beautiful collection. Maybe you should email the BBC about it and the Gardeners World presenters will eat their negative comments. I'm sure the people who are featured on the program must have written in at some point, give it a go, you never know. I was completely amazed by your pictures and began to look at these plants more closely than the bad press (I still have my own opinion on leylandii!!). I have now planted a 10 ft Mexican weeping pine in my garden and I have others in pots waiting to go in.

1 May, 2009

 

Andrea - are you sure I can't change your mind about leylandii ! :0)
As for Gardeners Word, I really can't be doing with it any more, it's been dumbed down too much for my liking , I still hanker after the days of Geoff Hamilton, and Roy Lancaster as garden presenters ....that Joe Swift! - I just want to slap his face :0)

2 May, 2009

 

Sorry Blue, I always seem to be giving members legal advice about it on here. A Law was implemented about it, and someone even got murdered because of it. I think it should require planning permission, with conditions before people plant it. I agree that it is inexperienced individuals that are unaware of its care that tend to plant it, but it is a needy plant!!
As for Gardeners world, I loved Geoff Hamilton God rest his soul and Alan Titchmarsh. Monty was a bit of a hippy and Toby, Alice and Joe are aimed at the younger generation, I have to say I haven't learned anything on this new series. I hope Carol Klein can keep them in order.

2 May, 2009

 

Andrea, Carol Klein is the only one I have time for, as for Toby ,Joe, and Alice.....personality school might be a good idea ?

2 May, 2009

 

My husbands thoughts exactly (re Gardeners World and dumbing down) he gets so cross with the presenters that it is not worth watching anymore....it used to be the highlight of our week years ago when Geoff Hamilton was on.(people would call us sad now)

As for conifers when in the Midlands we had a marvellous collection, and our Abies Koreana was a picture, we have a few here but the salt plays havoc with some of the varieties that we used to grow.
I loved all the beautifully shot photos you submitted and I hope you manage to convert a few GOY members.

2 May, 2009

 

Well bluespruce, dottydaisy2 has hit the nail on the head, I have to admit I have never considered conifers before, believing them all to grow to enormous heights! but after reading your blog I'm totally converted and I shall be adding these to my wish list for when we get a move.
As for gardeners world, I have only just started watching it but you can see older series on sky t.v. and I have often commented to Mrs. digs about the 'dumbing down'
Thanks for opening our eyes to a very special family of plants
Ian......Amazing!!!

3 May, 2009

 

Dd, thanks for your comments, just had another look at your pages, and with all the plants you already have I doubt you would have room for any conifers, your garden is absolutely lovely as it is, its just nice to know that you can appreciate conifers.
Ian, the range of conifers is certainly more diverse than many people realize, unfortunately the availability is usually very limited from most garden centers and nurseries, most of the conifers mentioned in this blog are available with a bit of research, a couple however are only circulating in private collections.

3 May, 2009

 

Outstanding photography and a lovely selection of conifers for us - thanks! I believe every well balanced yard should include conifers. The birds love them for nesting & for shelter. That's more than enough reason for me!

3 May, 2009

 

Bluespruce many thanks for your kind comments.

3 May, 2009

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