Plant Palette: Evergreens
Conifers are the beautiful backbone of a four-season garden
Metasequoia glyptostroboides Dawn Redwood: A golden form of this ancient species (fossil records date back some 90 million years), Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Gold Rush’ has dawn redwood’s signature pyramidal profile and feathery foliage. Needles hold their color throughout the growing season, then turn amber in autumn and fall from the tree (dawn redwood, like the similar bald cypress, is a deciduous conifer). Reaches 12 to 15 feet in 10 years. Zones 5 to 8.
Pinus parviflora Japanese White Pine: Reaching 2 to 3 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet wide in 10 years, Pinus parviflora ‘Fuku-zu-mi’ is a slow grower, with lush tufts of twisted, blue-green foliage. An ideal specimen plant, this medium-size tree naturally has an unusual, irregular, spreading form that makes it look windswept. Zones 5 to 8.
Juniperus cedrus Canary Islands Juniper: Native to the Canary Islands and Madeira — Juniperus cedrus has been listed as endangered since 2000 by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, but it is starting to regain ground. Both tall and broad, ultimately reaching more than 50 feet in height, this juniper is cloaked with graceful, dramatic swags of pendulous blue-green foliage. Zones 7 to 9.
Cunninghamia lanceolata Hayata Tree: A dwarf form of Taiwan-native Cunninghamia lanceolata, ‘Little Leo’ forms a globe of soft, densely packed needles, looking like a pincushion. After 10 years, this rare conifer will still be less than 3 feet tall. Leaves are dark green during the growing season, taking on a bronzy, purplish cast in winter. Zones 7 to 9.
Larix gmelinii Dahurian Larch: Another deciduous conifer, Larix gmelinii ‘Romberg Park’ is a dwarf form of Dahurian larch, comprising parts of the northernmost forest strands in the world and found in the vast taiga forests of Siberia and northeastern Asia. Creates an irregular mound, 2 to 3 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide, and is covered with short tufts of bright-green needles. Foliage turns yellow in autumn before making its exit. Zones 2 to Pacific Northwest 9.
Pinus strobus Eastern White Pine: Discovered growing in Vermont, Pinus strobus ‘Louie’ has brilliant golden needles, which hold their color year-round and really pop against the darker foliage in the shaded interior of the tree. Grows into a broad pyramid, about 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide in 10 years. Zones 3 to 8.
Cryptomeria japonica Japanese Cedar: Discovered as a witch’s broom on Cryptomeria japonica ‘Gracilis’, C. japonica ‘Little Champion’ is a dwarf form with a tidy globular shape, about 1 to 2 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide in 10 years. The finely textured needles, pale-green color and compact size make this a perfect container or rock-garden plant. Zones 6 to 8.
Cupressus arizonica var. glabra Blue Arizona Cypress: Frosted-blue foliage on delicate branches makes a striking contrast against the brown bark of Cupressus arizonica var. glabra ‘Blue Pyramid’. Much taller than wide, this upright, symmetrical form of Arizona cypress can reach 20 to 25 feet high by 10 to 12 feet wide in 10 years. Zones 6 to 9.
Picea pungens Colorado Spruce: An elegant, slow-growing small tree, Picea pungens ‘Hillside’ is a dwarf form, reaching 3 to 6 feet tall in 10 years, creating a flattened pyramid. Stiff bottlebrushes of needles are blue-gray-green. Zones 3 to 7.