Ever since my love affair with colorful dwarf conifers began, I've taken a lot of kidding from my friends in the plant world, many of whom regard these shrubs as tacky and gaudy. They all love small deciduous shrubs for their usefulness, attractiveness, and low maintenance requirements, but they shy away from dwarf conifers, finding them difficult to place in the landscape and fearing they will look like meatballs or strange Christmas trees. Others see small conifers as a group loved only by collectors of the unusual.
My friends couldn't be more wrong. These plants offer colors, textures, shapes, and sizes unusual in the landscaping world. Since they add visual interest throughout the year, they're excellent plants to use as accents and as components of major plantings. "Dwarf" is a loosely defined word, so think of them as plants that grow slowly and act as shrubs rather than as the tree species from which most are selected.