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Traditional materials used for jazzing up the season have a long history, but floral designer David Winston offers his own take on these popular holiday plants.
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Learn more about the plants used in Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson's Ojai garden
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.
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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.
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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.
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.
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.
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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.
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