Conifers: Small-scale statements
The aristocrats of the garden, dwarf conifers offer personalities
more complex than some neighbors. That may be why the collecting
of them is so addictive. Only certain plants are able to achieve
specimen status. And with their slow growing and small nature,
dwarf conifers offer us gardeners without a lot of space the opportunity
to cultivate specimens. They are also are very easy to
grow, usually exceedingly drought tolerant, and offer blatantly
ornamental traits year round.
Below are some examples of plant varieties we have just received from one of our favorite growers, Iseli Nursery. We have a large selection of other dwarf conifers as well. Some specific varieties are in short supply so come in early and check them out before they are gone. Fall is a fantastic time to plant.
Spiraling Hinoki Cypress
Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Spiralis’
A fantastic specimen plant for a focal point, ‘Spiralis’ is a dense,
upright, and narrow growing variety. Its foliage is congested and
wavy, and its branches radiate up and out, giving it a unique character.
It will grow to about 4-7 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide in 15 or so
years, and it is cold hardy to about - 20°F.
Japanese Umbrella Pine
Sciadopitys verticillata ‘Mitsch Select’
Umbrella Pines are awesome because of their thick and unusual foliage that radiates around the branches like spokes on an umbrella. This selection is a true dwarf that has a definite leader when young, but broadens with age. The short, dark-green needles and compact stature make this species available to those who don’t have enough room to grow a big one. It makes a fantastic container or rock garden specimen. Slowly, it will grow to 2-4 feet tall and 3-5 feet wide. It is cold hardy to about -10°F.
Whipcord Western Red Cedar
Thuja plicata ‘Whipcord’
The unusual foliage on this low, mop-head-like plant consists of
long, thick, glossy tendrils that suggest Independence Day fireworks.
The many branches seem to explode upward and send sparks cascading
in all directions. The plant’s foliage is green in summer and bronze
during the winter. Unlike the species, which is a giant timber tree,
‘Whipcord’ only grows to about 4-5 feet tall and wide in 10-15 years.
It’s very cold hardy.
Snow in the Valley Japanese White Pine
Pinus parviflora ‘Tanima no yuki’
This little feller is cool all year but especially stunning in the
spring. The new growth emerges as pink tipped “candles” that slowly
unravel to reveal pink tipped variegated foliage with significant
amounts of pure white. The affect is magnificent. A true dwarf,
it only grows a few inches a year. Provide gritty, fast draining
soil for all Japanese white pines. It’s cold hardy to -20°F.
Slowmound Mugo Pine
Pinus mugo ‘Slowmound’
'Slowmound' is a true dwarf mugo pine that won't outgrow the landscape.
This hardy durable pine forms a low dense mound with an informal
appearance. It’s a breakthrough for gardeners because it stays very
compact and dense without shearing. It’ll grow to something like
2-4 feet tall and wide in 25 or so years, and it is very cold hardy.
Snow Sprite Deodar Cedar
Cedrus deodara ‘Snow Sprite’
‘Snow Sprite’ is delightful dwarf Deodar Cedar that forms a small white mound.
The tips of the new growth are ivory-white and age to creamy-yellow. In shadier
areas, the plant will take on a bluish silver color and the tips will be almost
white. Although the plant remains small and compact, it will eventually develop
a central leader, resembling a smaller version of the species. Shelter it from
strong, sweeping winter winds and hot summer sun. It grows very slowly to 5-8
feet tall and wide over 15–20 years, and it is cold hardy to -10°F.
Confucius Hinoki Cypress
Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Confucius’
‘Confucius’ offers beautiful undulating foliage. The bright lemon yellow outer
foliage contrasts beautifully with its darker interior tints, and the foliage
often takes on an orange cast in winter. A wise choice for the colorful conifer
garden, especially when set against darker background plants. Avoid reflected
heat and sun. It will grow slowly 5-10 feet tall and 4-6 feet wide. It’s cold
hardy to about -20°F.
Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine
Pinus contorta v. latifolia ‘Chief Joseph’
The deep, rich, golden-yellow winter color of 'Chief Joseph' creates a striking
beacon of brightness in the drab winter landscape. The foliage is light to
medium green during spring, summer and well into fall and changes color dramatically
as days shorten and temperatures drop. Found in the Wallowa Mountains of northeastern
Oregon. It grows very slowly to maybe 8 feet tall, and it is very cold hardy.