Gardening Tips

Gardening Tips – January 2021

Powers Court Garden, Ireland


Evergreens provide density, green screening for gardens and green when other plants and trees may be bare during winter months. Unfortunate or fortunate for us, many of these Conifers, Cedars and Junipers that come to mind thrive in cooler temperatures than ours, above Zone 8.

Evergreens can make a garden spectacular. The different shapes, textures and colors provide visual interest and excitement. They stretch the garden season during winter months when flowers are sparse or other plants lose their foliage. Evergreens become anchors and provide stability and structure creating curb appeal. Color combinations can be used for eye catching effect. They add architectural elements of interest with different forms and habits.

Leyland Cypress

Conifers or cedars are evergreens that have flat, fan like leaves and stringy bark. They grow in the Northeast, Pacific Northwest and along the Atlantic coast. Junipers are also evergreen coniferous plants. They are more commonly shrubs but can be trees that have columnal shape when fully grown. Some have spiny needles. They have bluish cones on the tips of shoots that look like berries. These berries are a key ingredient in making Gin.

For our area there are a few Conifers and Junipers that may fit, many are large specimens but smaller specimens are available. Best planted during our winter months, most need full sun and require good air circulation and well-drained alkaline soil. Feed in winter with a complete all-purpose fertilizer such as 13-13-13. Eastern Red Cedar or Juniperus virginiana is tall but there are more compact cultivars such as ‘Glauca” aka Silver Red Cedar which is a narrow-Leaf Evergreen. ‘Canaertii’ or Canaert Eastern Red Cedar aka narrow-Leaf Evergreen Tree. Italian Cypress or Cupressus sempervirens is an evergreen tree with dark foliage that grows upright. It is a long-lived evergreen but short lived in our area, requiring full sun, good drainage and air circulation. Carolina Sapphire is a fast growing cultivar that grows to 30 ft. and makes a good Christmas tree. Leyland cypress or Cupressocyparis leylandii requires a sunny location, good drainage but does well in our area and is easy to grow in our heat and humidity, grows over 50 feet and is a good specimen, screening plant with interesting bark.

On a recent visit to one of our local stores, I saw some interesting evergreens and thought I might try a few even in pots. If you get spooked with the thought of trying some conifers, many of our popular ever green shrubs and small trees such as Japanese yew, camellias, Japanese maple, southern magnolia and its cultivars, sweet olives and ornamental grasses, to name a few, can give us the same effect of a great evergreen stand if we use our imagination.

Royal Terrace Gardens, Scotland

By Karen Blackburn

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