COLORFUL CONIFERS IN THE GARDEN
By Trey Pitsenberger, co-owner
the late fall and winter as many plants have lost their
leaves our gardens sometimes look quite empty. Our reliance
on annual and perennial flowers for color does not leave
us with much to look at during winter. In addition many
trees have gone dormant and add to the empty look. With
the onset of the winter blues, we should be able to
look upon our gardens for inspiration and cheerfulness.
Conifers are a large group of plants that are often
misused or not used enough. The word ‘Conifer’
describes any plant that produces cones for reproduction.
Not all Conifers are evergreen. Larch will turn golden
in fall and drop all its needles. Most Conifers are
evergreen, and most are Deer Resistant. People are familiar
with junipers, the most widely planted conifer. As such,
some people have an aversion to planting junipers. This
is a shame since there are many types of juniper, which
are very easy to grow and have great color.
of my favorites is the ‘Blue Star Juniper’.
It has attractive, sparkling blue foliage on a dense
spreading form. Use it as an accent in the foreground.
Another great juniper that looks fantastic cascading
off walls or as a ground cover is called the ‘Blue
Rug Juniper’. Intense silver blue foliage is a
highlight. How about a juniper that is gold during the
growing season but turns yellow-orange in winter. It’s
called ‘Motherlode' Juniper’.
A colorful accent is the ‘Montgomery’ Dwarf
Colorado Blue Spruce. This gem of a plant forms a globe
when young, but broadens when mature. It maintains bright
blue color year round and only grows to 3- 4 feet in
ten years. Put this plant in a place of prominence to
be enjoyed all year. The ‘Mops’ Golden Dwarf
Threadbare Cypress is a low mounding cypress that grows
3-4 feet tall and 5-6 feet wide. Bright yellow color
helps the garden come alive!
Do you have a wall in full sun that you were thinking
of putting a vine on? Instead, try putting a Weeping
Blue Atlas Cedar against it. The plant won’t get
much wider than a vine, but it can cover a wall 20 feet
long. It has blue branches that hang down covering the
wall. This is a classy plant that is low maintenance
and is easy to grow like most conifers.
other benefit of the conifers is their cold tolerance.
While there are a few that will not tolerate cold temperatures
the majority will take mountain weather and are perfect
for Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and other high elevation places.
The one area to keep an eye on is heat tolerance. Some
conifers prefer cooler weather than the valley or lower
foothills offer. You can get around this by planting
these types where the sun does not beat down on them
in the late afternoon of summer. Check with your nurseryperson
Not once have we mentioned green colored conifers in
which there are many. I wanted to show you the diversity
of conifers and why they should be used more. If you
would like low maintenance, easy to grow, deer resistant,
plantings in your garden consider the wonderful world