I've mentioned that I failed/made a big gardening mistake when it comes to conifers. The rule of: "Conifers Should Come First" is something that I wasn't aware of, until this Fall. That's when I went about a dizzy'ing spring of planting my own conifer garden IB2DWs. What's so great about conifers? Texture and structure are a couple of big reasons to believe in conifers. But, four-season gardening is (maybe?) the biggest for this Zone 5b (Now Zone 6a!!!) gardener. Everything around here goes dormant. Some perennials like hostas just totally disappear. Grasses hang around all Winter. Decidious trees go bare. But, conifers? They stand tall and proud during the Winter. This past week, we had our first real snow fall of the year. And, the dwarf conifer garden was a new highlight. Below are a few photos showing some of the conifers covered in snow:
Showing posts with the label evergreens
The fun of evergreens as part of my Fall Planting Sprint comes to an end today with three Japanese 'Soft Touch' Holly. Named Ilex crenata 'Soft Touch' - these are a little different than most of the Hollys that I've become familiar with over the years. The name is the big tell - they're not full of sharp points. I came across a few of these 'larger-than-one-gallon' nursery pots on a bench at the Orange big box store and quickly whipped out my phone. Here's what the foliage looks like before planting: The page from NC State had me sold enough to put them in my cart. Here's how they talk about Soft Touch Japanese Holly : Soft Touch Japanese Holly is a dense, mounded, evergreen shrub with a moderate growth rate. Unlike its parent, it will reach a relatively short height of 3 feet and has soft-textured leaves without the sharp spines typically found on Japanese Holly. Soft Touch Japanese Holly glossy green leaves also have an interesting silver
I added three small Green Velvet Boxwoods to the middle of the pair of recently-espalier'd Dogwood trees along the side of the garage. The bed has been an afterthought (to date) and features a bunch of random hostas, Ostrich Ferns and a few heucheras. There were no shrubs. There wasn't much 'structure' there. The photo at the top shows the 'after'. The photo below shows the 'before'. I've moved that big hosta OUT and removed some of the ferns, too. I planted these in mid-October, but posting it in early November 2023.
Yesterday, I posted a photo and details of the first (of two) Blue Star Junipers that I planted next to the back stoop. Today, is the second of those - this time planted on the north side by the electrical meter, next to one of the Disneyland Roses. You can see it below - this is a spot that gets full sun and little water...so I'm thinking it may be happy here. Posting in November, but planted in mid-October 2023.
Last Fall, I planted a singular cypress conifer called Lemon Thread False Cypress in the backyard by the Hornbeam trees . It has mostly just gotten along without much attention, so I decided to add something similar to the front yard - IB2DWs - Conifer Garden: a Golden Mop False Cypress. Chamaecyparis pisifera. They're similar...but I'm learning they're different in some ways. From Oregon State University, I'm seeing that Golden Mop is a 'true dwarf' : ‘Golden Mop’ - it is a mutation of ‘Filifera Aurea’ and a true dwarf, to 1 m, with more intense yellow. I've planted in a full sun, so I'm sure hoping that we get some of that 'intense yellow' and based on what I'm reading (below) in Midwest Garden Tips, I think we have a winner with Golden Mop. From MGT: The dramatic foliage of the ‘Golden Mop’ is bright yellow green with a feathery, almost stringy appearance. The glowing gold foliage creates a lovely accent to deeper green conifers.
All the same facts, details and situation from yesterday's post showing how I planted a Weeping Norway Spruce IB2DWs persist and stay the same for this - a second Weeping Norway Spruce - that I planted in the new conifer garden closer to the sidewalk - IB2DWs - extended. See the photo at the top showing the location of this weeping, dwarf conifer and the Baby Blue Spruce tree that I previously planted here. As for keeping score on a few fronts, let's first start with the Fall Planting Tally.
What does my IB2DWs bed lack? Well...to be fair, it lacks a lot. But what I'm (mostly) talking about are conifers. Evergreens. Remember... Conifers Should Come First . I've failed at that. But, I can make up for it, I hope. My #2 priority was to plant evergreens IB2DWS. And my #1 was to add more evergreens . I've started by posting about one of two Baby Blue Spruce trees that I planted in the extended IB2DWs bed. Today, I'm sharing that I planted a Bird's Nest Spruce in the currently planted IB2DWs bed. You can see it above - it is to the west of the Cat's Pajamas Nepeta and a few feet set back from the driveway. It was five bucks. What's not to like about that? I have a Bird's Nest Spruce in the back that was devoured by rabbits. I've moved it once and need to move it again. Here's the container - Bird's Nest Spruce - Picea abies 'Nidiformis' - which NC State calls a 'dwarf needled evergreen shrub' . As for
Gardening advice is literally a cottage industry. YouTube creators. Bloggers. Botanical Gardens. Everybody has advice and recommendations. And, I take A LOT of them - as I'm a total novice and learn a little bit more everyday in the garden. I've covered some of this advice, but I came across something recently that stopped me in my tracks. From Fine Gardening - Lisa O'Donnell in a piece titled "Conifers Should Come First" - says this: Instead of adding them as an afterthought...let evergreens drive the design . I *totally* feel seen. I started on the wrong foot. Did I start with conifers? Nope. I've added some over the years. I planted a number of conifers that didn't survive - from a Japanese White Pine , Weeping Cedar , dwarf Alberta Spruce and a small Fraser Fir . All planted. All dead. One early bright (conifer) spot is the Canadian Hemlocks . They're still (some of them) around. Same with the three Gold Cone Junipers . And,
Planted in late October 2021 , the set of three Green Gem Boxwoods planted in the backyard beds have continued to put on some size and seem to have established themselves enough to basically go on auto-pilot from here-on-out. They were small one gallon plants from the Orange box store that were on the 50% off sale - coming in under $5 a piece. They're smaller-scale boxwoods and were planted to provide some evergreen structure to a place that is mid-border that is mostly shade. What do they look like today? Below is a photo showing the three of them that have filled out and grown quite a bit of mass in their two years: Compared to just February of this year, they've put on a bunch of growth this season . Also, a reminder....that these didn't bronze much over last Winter - and is something that I can watch this year. The Summer Beauty alliums have begun to encroach on them at the top of the photo and the center of the planting is ripe for something to be tucked right in
In the Spring of 2022 (17 months ago), I undertook what I called (at that time) the Lilac Replacement Project where I dug up and transplanted a number of Lilacs. And replaced them with some upright evergreens. Those upright evergreens were three Green Giant Thujas that I bought at the orange big box store . I planted three in this spot and three on the other side. Two of those died, leaving me with four of the six originally planted remaining. When I look back at the photos of those Green Giant Thujas right after they were planted (April 2022) , it appears that the top-tip (apical meristem) of them is right around the top of the fence. Today - they're at least a foot over the top of the fence height. See below for the current view - with the Green Giant Thujas in the back against the fence. That's (obviously) not the only thing happening in this photo, so I'll document some of the other changes in this post - for the garden diary. The Thujas have survived here,
The biggest, most-interesting, focal-point conifer in our backyard is a small Weeping Nootka Cypress tree that I planted in late May of 2021 in one of the big, swooping curves along the north side of the beds about 2/3rds of the way back. It has now been 28 months (May 2021 --> September 2023) since this was planted and although I was quite concerned about this thing surviving, I can report that the tree has not only survived, but has been putting on a small amount of growth. Below is a photo showing the current shape and size of this focal-point evergreen tree: It isn't super easy to tell, but when I compare the photos over the years, I can see that it has put on height from the leader (apical meristem) and all of the limbs have extended with new, pendulous growth. The 'skirt' from the lowest limbs has grown, too. But, I haven't touched this with a pruner since it went in and I think that's the right move. My plan is to keep watering this in until the fir
Planted in the Fall of 2021, our Mugo Pine is (now...almost two years later) still a small, evergreen shrub. I last looked at it a little over a year ago (August 2022), when it was looking good - green and compact and full of needles . Early this past Winter (November 2022), the dang rabbits went at this thing and gnawed off a bunch of the tips . And...the little jerks just left them there. Of course, that meant that a chicken wire ring needed to be put up to protect it from the pests. Like the Toad Lilies, I've left this chicken wire ring up all Summer. Here, below, is what the Mugo Pine looks like below. First, a look from the top-down. Then, from the side-on: It has put on some height this year and has opened-up a bit. What was dense and compact last year is now a little more airy. The tips are full of longer needles that are reaching up-and-out. I don't have a ton of conifers, so looking at this one makes me think I should be adding some to my Fall 2023 to-d
I don't seem to have documented the planting of these two, small Hicks upright Yews, but I wanted to document their current, Summer 2023 status in the [garden diary]. They are planted between the firepit and the side fence. With the three Peachberry Ice Heucheras planted in front of them. These were planted as 1-gallon evergreen shrubs. And while they haven't put on a ton of size, they're certainly grown. See below for a photo showing the two, upright Yews spread apart. With some time, they'll fill in and fill-up to create an evergreen vertical screen. I don't expect them to grow together, but I will add something-else evergreen in between them down the road. How about the color change on those Heucheras, huh?
Adding evergreens was #1 on my 2023 list and I've put in a series of Boxwoods in the front and back. And those were added to the existing stands of Boxwoods around the garden. Most of them are small, but a few of them have grown in size and have a number of seasons growing. I also had a run with Hicks Yews the past few seasons, where I added quite a few of them around the backyard - starting all the way back in 2019 . I've TOTALLY left them unpruned to date. Why? Pruning evergreen shrubs and boxwoods in particular is an art. Something that I have little experience with as a gardener. I've *mostly* left my Boxwoods grow wild and shaggy - allowing them to put on some size. But... pruning shrubs as a 'seasonal project' on my 2023 to-do list . So, it was time to take a look at some of the evergreen shrubs. #22 on my 2022 to-do list was to 'upgrade my garden tools '. I did that a little bit by adding a Dutch push/pull hoe . I also did that by gett
After the mass boxwood planting under the Linden trees earlier this Summer , I ended up with two very small (1#) Green Mountain Boxwoods that were leftover from the project. When I started with that mass planting, I was using a mix of Green Mountain and Green Velvet. After some hemming-and-hawing, I ended up planting only Green Velvet - mostly due to their smaller mature size. So, these two Green Mountain boxwoods have been siting around and I was able to get to planting them in the border around the fire pit in back. See below for their location. A few notes on these - in relation to my task list for the growing season: 1. #1 on my 2023 to-do list was to focus on evergreens . Add two more to the planting list. I planted five new evergreens in front . A columnar Scotch Pine in back . And now 13 more ( 11 + 2) Boxwoods. That's 18 evergreen shrubs and one tree - 19 in total. Pretty good. 2. #15 on my 2023 to-do list was to 'upgrade the fire pit area' . These tw
A few weeks ago, I posted back-to-back photos and posts showing how I dug out and transplanted a number of perennials including hostas and alliums to prepare the bed at the feet of the espaliered Greenspire Linden trees for a replanting of evergreen (Boxwood) shrubs. I opted for Boxwoods underneath these two trees as part of my 2023 to-do list (#1 was evergreens) and this area was my #1 priority . I originally planned for a full, staggered double hedge of Boxwoods and I bought 13 Boxwoods. Seven Green Mountain for the back row. And six Green Velvet for the front row. The one gallon boxwoods at the orange big box nursery went on sale recently and I bought when the price dropped. I started by cutting the new (further out) edge of the bed and had to deal with locating the cable line in the ground. I was careful to not cut that cable, so I mostly dug out by hand with my hori hori. I then went and measured the spacing for the 13 boxwoods. In order to try to not disturb the r
In large April, I planted a small, columnar Scotch Pine tree along the south fence about 1/3rd of the way back. It was a tree that appears to be field-grown and was sold in a burlap ball that I left in-place. I used a pair of scissors and cut the burlap that was wrapped/tied around the trunk so the 'top' was sort-of open. But, I left the burlap in place and planted it that way. I know there's opinions on which way to go with burlap, but with these small trees, I've found that they come with a big clay clump around their roots and it is best to just leave it as-is to reduce transplant stress. The tree - just one month or so old (in our yard) is already doing some interesting growth/show. It is putting out quite a few 'candles' on the tips . Below are a few photos showing these orange and brown and green candles. In the photo above, you can see the cones of the Scotch Pine forming at the base of the candle. According to this post from the Seattle Japanes
Last week, I shared my Front Porch Bed plan that included a mix of evergreen shrubs, grasses, roses, bulbs and some perennials and talked about how I was hoping that the combination of soil improvement AND the removal of the Norway Maple will allow for some vigorous growth of the new (and existing) plant material. This post is showing the area to the 'left' (or south) of the Triumph Elm. I have five existing Green Velvet boxwoods on the other side of the tree. So, I opted to carry on that planting with four Green Velvet boxwoods on the other side of the Elm to sort of 'match' the bed. Below, you can see the small, one-gallon Boxwoods planted in the bed. With the tulip foliage still around, the boxwoods are hard to see. Below is an annotated version of the photo. Green Velvet Boxwoods in the green circles below. Disneyland Roses in the orange circles: From my planning post, I listed the plant material required. Here's where it stands after these Boxwoods: