Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
February, 2006
Regional Report

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This lovely Swiss stone pine is a delightful addition to the landscape.

Evergreens Make the Landscape a Winter Wonderland

Most of us think of a pine or spruce when you say the word evergreen. However, there are about 500 species of evergreen conifers, many of which are wonderful additions to the landscape. The basic definition of an evergreen is that it holds its foliage throughout the year. Conifers do actually shed about a third of their needles once a year. In fall, the needles in the interior of the plant turn orange-brown and fall off.

Placing Evergreens
There are a myriad of ways to use evergreens in the landscape, especially in our northern climates where seeing some green in winter is especially soothing amidst the snow. Picture a majestic white pine with its tiers of layered branches. Or how about a yellow-tipped false cypress backed by a solid wall of dark green arborvitae. You could also place a graceful weeping hemlock to soften the corner of a home.

Evergreens make superb year-round screens for privacy or to hide something unattractive. They function well as noise barriers, and can even make a great private garden room. To make a formal-styled hedge, hemlocks and arborvitae shear well as do the shorter yews. Or leave them in their natural shapes for a softer look.

To use them in a foundation planting around a home, it's important to mix evergreen and deciduous material. Evergreens alone make a dull foundation planting. You are trying to achieve a unified look so avoid the temptation to just plant a shrub here and there. Group them, repeat the groupings, and most of all, use plants in scale with the home.

Keep in mind some of the basic tenets of good design: simple is always best, repeat forms to unify a design, and plan for the mature size of a plant so you don't end up engulfing the house.

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