From massive forest giants to miniscule mounds of elegant foliage, the Conifer family contains a wide variety. The name "conifer" comes from Latin and means "to bear cones." Although cones are a common feature of most conifers, Junipers and Yews are two exceptions that produce berry-like fruit, which, in the case of Juniper berries, are used to make the G part of the G&T!
Among the conifers are some of the smallest, largest and oldest living woody plants known. The more than 500 conifer species are distributed worldwide and are invaluable for their timber as well as their adaptability as garden plants for year-round interest.
The diversity of available conifers for the landscape is tremendous. Nurseries and plants people are devoted to the discovery and introduction of new selections that vary in size, form, color and texture. There has been special interest in the group of conifers classified as "dwarf conifers." One definition of a dwarf conifer is one that fails to attain the size and stature of the parent plant. These smaller growing varieties are invaluable in the smaller space garden designs.
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The form most commonly associated with conifers is the familiar conical shape of Christmas trees; yet, for the landscape, the range varies from the vertical form of tall columnar plants, globose or rounded forms, spreading forms and the horizontal forms of flat ground covers.
Garden conifers come in a rainbow of year-round colours that can be used effectively in creating colour schemes with other plants. Many are shades of green, yellow, orange, blue, lavender, grey or purple, while others are bicolor and have variegated foliage.
Many go through seasonal color changes and provide interest in the winter landscape. In the spring, lighter shades of new growth contrast against the darker older foliage. In some cases, new growth emerges not just as a lighter shade but as a bright yellow or red, rivaling any floral display. Some even display two colors of needles. On other conifers, the cones and seed-bearing fruits are brightly colored and decorative during certain seasons of the year.
The landscape uses are limited only by the imagination. The strong silhouettes of many compact, slow-growing conifers can accent a corner of a garden bed, frame a doorway or add winter interest to perennial and annual flower beds.
Use conifers in foundation plantings, borders or island beds with other shrubs. Plant a mixture of different conifers, blending the various textures, shapes and colors, for a unique low-maintenance landscape.
Use large specimens amid expansive lawns and miniature specimens to view up close in containers, troughs or rock gardens. Don't forget that conifers are also stalwart hedging and windbreak plants.
The natural growth pattern of a normal or dwarf evergreen is a large part of its charm. Some evergreens can be severely pruned while others will respond to light pruning.
NZ's iconic native conifer. Slow growing but well worth the wait for the tree to mature into its stately form. When juvenile the foliage tends to have copper bronze tones but as the tree ages green is the more dominant colour. One to plant for your grand children! Est.10yr.growth.
Colour: Assorted Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 6m x 2.5m
A popular garden tree in subtropical areas, planted for its unusual effect of the thick, “reptilian: branches with a very symmetrical appearance. The crown becomes flat-topped with age. The seeds, similar to large pine nuts, are edible. Not tolerant of wet feet but will tolerate light frost. Evergreen
Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 24m x 0m
A wonderful upright conifer with even tiers of branches around the central trunk. Quick growing and tolerant of coastal conditions where it will happily withstand salt laden winds. Not tolerant of harsh frost or wet feet. Will grow in a container. Looks good as a Christmas Tree. Evergreen.
Colour: Assorted Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 10m x 5m
Japanese Cedar. A fast growing and robust Conifer that is useful for screens and shelter belts and highly valued in the Orient as a timber tree. Forms a stately pyramidal tree if left untrimmed with curved needle foliage in green and bronze tones. Evergreen.
Colour: Assorted Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 11m x 6m
A very attractive and quick growing, aromatic Conifer with blue-grey foliage and flaking reddish-brown bark. Forms a neat and tidy conical tree and is great for back ground planting or screening. Tolerant and hardy. Evergreen.
Colour: Assorted Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 5m x 3.5m
The term gracilis means graceful and slender which describes this narrow upright Conifer perfectly. Neat and tidy blue-green foliage that grows in a perfect column tapering to a narrow point. Likes a sunny open position in nice deeply worked soil. Evergreen.
A great Conifer for adding a touch of formality to the garden or accentuating a feature. Combines well with most other colours.
Colour: Assorted Habit: Columnar Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 3m x 0.35m
A fascinating and fabulous, designer conifer that is used extensively as a feature landscaping or container plant. The branches are graceful, arching and held at unusual angles giving a most interesting architectural affect. Bright green needle like foliage. Easy to grow. Evergreen.
This Conifer is commonly known as the 'Hollywood' Juniper - definitely a star in any planting scheme.
Colour: Assorted Habit: Arching Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 2m x 1m
Blue Colorado Spruce. A good blue form is amongst the most highly prized garden conifers. Even the green seedlings make a lovely garden subject. Not a very fast growing making approx 3 metres in ten years.