January 12th, 2020 Posted In: Garden tendencies & design

Conifers have had a nasty fame up to now.

When Fergus Garrett of Nice Dixter informed a bunch of Garden Media Guild journalists that he deliberate to make use of extra conifers within the garden, a quiet shudder of alarm rippled by way of the room.

That was three years in the past. Yesterday I printed a video on How Conifers Can Transform Your Garden. By way of its first 24 hours, it’s my most profitable video but! Though it’s early days, it has double the views of most of my different movies in that time-frame.

Someway probably the most unpopular plant in Britain is popping into one thing of a celebrity.

I went to Lime Cross Nursery & Cafe, one of many UK’s main conifer growers, to speak to Vicky Tate about how at the moment’s conifers add construction and texture to the garden all 12 months spherical, and why we’re lastly recovering from being over-shadowed by large, brown-tinged Leylandii.

Lime Cross Nurseries

Lime Cross Nurseries in Herstmonceaux in Sussex specialize in rising this previously unpopular plant.

Why had been they so unpopular?

Vicky thinks that folks didn’t know how one can take care of the rows of overgrown and uncared for Leylandii cypress hedges, planted within the 1970s. ‘And the island mattress with a Lawson cypress as a focus was additionally common round that point. The bushes received too huge, took up an excessive amount of area and light-weight, with dying branches.’

And it was exhausting to search out the smaller and extra uncommon conifers that are actually proving so versatile in gardens.

Korean Fir 'Silver Pearl'

Grafted like topiary, this Korean Fir (Abies Koreana) ‘Silver Pearl’ is a shocking and strange plant for a pot.

Now there’s a large vary of conifers, lots of them dwarf varieties, which supply texture and construction to the garden all 12 months spherical.

Conifers are a large-ranging household of vegetation – they cowl pines, firs, cypresses, spruce, cryptomeria, podocarpus, junipers, yew and extra. There are even some deciduous conifers in addition to distant relations, equivalent to Gingko biloba.

What do you want to remember when purchase conifers?

Vicky advises you to verify how briskly a conifer grows and what its eventual peak can be. Many solely develop a number of centimetres a 12 months. And dwarf varieties will stay dwarf.

Conifers are typically straightforward care, however they like acid or impartial soil.

Fergus Garrett informed us that he had began experimenting by utilizing conifers in pots, primarily outdoors the entrance door of Nice Dixter. So if your soil could be very alkaline, you can put the conifers in pots with ericaceous compost.

Conifers in pots at Great Dixter

I feel I counted 5 totally different species of conifer on this grouping of pots at Nice Dixter, though they’re not all on this {photograph}.

Greatest methods to make use of conifers in a garden

Vicky thinks that one great way to make use of a conifer within the garden is as a focus. There are some glorious upright and cone shapes which is able to hold their structural qualities with little or no pruning.

Conifers in the Lime Cross Nurseries garden

A sunny afternoon within the winter at Lime Cross Nurseries. They’ve a small conifer garden which reveals off the superb vary of shapes and contrasting textures you can discover in at the moment’s conifers.

Lime Cross Nurseries

With this quantity of color and distinction, it’s nearly inconceivable to imagine that this can be a garden within the depths of winter. On the Lime Cross Nurseries.

Conifers additionally work nicely within the combine when you have an unique garden theme. They’re planted alongside palms and different tropical-trying vegetation within the unique garden at each Nice Dixter and RHS Wisley.

Conifer in the exotic garden at Great Dixter

A conifer within the unique garden at Nice Dixter

Some can additionally do the job that topiary does. Some have naturally sharp, sculptural shapes. And others can be trimmed like topiary.

The RHS has advisable Podocarpus ‘Chocolate Field’ as an alternative choice to field. It has small chocolate-brown leaves and can be clipped into form so it might substitute any field topiary hit by field blight or field tree caterpillar.

Podocarpus 'Chocolate Box.'

Podocarpus laurentii ‘Chocolate Field’ doesn’t appear like a conifer…however I’m starting to question what a ‘conifer appears to be like like.’

Greatest conifers for small gardens

All of the dwarf varieties will work nicely in pots and small gardens, says Vicky. We checked out quite a few small pines, significantly Pinus mugo (Dwarf mountain pine) and Strobus pines.

Dwarf mountain pine 'Ophir'

This dwarf mountain pine (Pinus mugo) ‘Ophir’ will keep small and its golden color provides to the winter garden.

Conifers for pots and small gardens

Two good small vegetation for pots or small gardens. On the left is Pinus heldreichii Schmidtii and on the left is Juniper ‘Blue Star’, which is low rising and would look good in a border, says Vicky.

Will conifers develop within the shade?

Vicky informed me that conifers are primarily mountain vegetation so they like a lightweight state of affairs. They’re not going to be completely happy towards a North-dealing with wall and the aspect of the conifer that faces the wall might nicely go brown.

We’ve a big cypress on a North-dealing with wall, but it surely has grown a lot larger than the wall so it will get gentle from all sides.

Do conifers develop indoors?

Conifers aren’t any good as home vegetation. It’s possible you’ll be tempted by a few of the fairly dwarf varieties, however Vicky says that homes don’t have sufficient gentle for conifers in pots. They won’t be completely happy. And everyone knows how unattractive an sad conifer is!

Why do they go brown immediately?

Vicky says that the number one motive for conifers immediately going brown on quite a few branches is lack of sunshine. There are additionally some ailments, however the likelihood is that you simply haven’t planted your conifer in a lightweight sufficient a part of the garden.

What about pruning?

Anybody who’s ever pruned an overgrown Leylandii hedge is aware of that pruning conifers can be a catastrophe. Nonetheless, Vicky says that they fluctuate: ‘The pines, cedars and cryptomerias are all straightforward to prune and form as a result of they develop again nicely. You need to be extra cautious about pruning cypresses, firs and spruce.’

If in case you have an overgrown cypress Leylandii hedge, you received’t be capable to lower it again to a extra affordable form and measurement as a result of it received’t regrow from outdated wooden. Nonetheless, Vicky factors out that Thuja occidentalis appears to be like very comparable and can re-develop in case you lower it again too far. So there may be nearly all the time another.

Can conifers be moved?

Like most mature bushes and shrubs, a conifer received’t need to be moved as soon as it’s received its roots into the bottom. There’s typically little or no level in making an attempt to maneuver a tree or shrub if it’s been rising in a single place for a number of years. It’s higher to purchase a brand new, youthful plant.

Some extra inspiring new varieties

Abies Koreana 'Icebreaker'

One other putting Korean Fir – Abies koreana ‘Icebreaker’ will keep dwarf and has superb blue needles.

Pinus mugo Dezember Gold

One other dwarf mountain pine – Pinus mugo ‘Dezember Gold’

unknown pine

This pine might definitely substitute topiary within the garden!

See extra of the Lime Cross Nurseries in video

There are extra views of Lime Cross Nurseries and their wide selection of various conifers, in addition to the garden, store, cafe and wild swimming lake on this video:

You can additionally discover Lime Cross Nursery at a few of the plant festivals, such because the twice a 12 months Nice Dixter Plant Truthful.

Store my favorite gardening books, instruments and merchandise

I’m usually requested for my suggestions so I’ve put collectively lists of the garden books, instruments and merchandise on the Middlesized Garden Amazon retailer. Word that hyperlinks to Amazon are affiliate, which suggests I could get a small payment in case you purchase, however I’ll solely advocate issues I take advantage of myself or suppose you’ll actually like.

For instance, here’s a listing of my favorite gardening books.

Pin to recollect uncommon conifers

And do be a part of us each Sunday morning on the Middlesized Garden weblog!

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