One of my favorite ways to get ideas for my own yard is to visit public gardens. Great public gardens give me a chance to see mature specimens of trees, shrubs, and perennials and then decide which ones I would like best for my own space. A few years ago, I visited the fantastic conifer collection at Hidden Lake Gardens in Tipton, Michigan, which has a really wonderful collection of these great evergreen trees. In many climates, fall is a great time to plant trees, so now is a good time to pick out a new conifer or two for your own garden.
Here are some of my favorites.
Blue cloak white fir (Abies concolor ‘Blue Cloak’, Zones 4–8). Conifers may not have showy flowers, but they can bring a lot of color from their needles. This selection of fir is one of the best, with incredible blue-green needles, on a plant that stays compact, making it perfect for a small garden.
Speaking of color, how about this golden hinoki false cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Crispii’, Zones 4–8)? The flat sprays of needles are a bright gold that is particularly intense in the winter, exactly when you need color the most.
Weeping white pine (Pinus strobus ‘Pendula’, Zones 3–8) is one of those plants that goes through an ugly phase. Young specimens are awkward and kind of ridiculous looking. But once they get mature, they develop into beautiful, graceful trees that are a perfect complement to every garden.
Dwarf Norway spruce (Picea abies ‘Pumila’, Zones 2–8) is an unusual little plant that starts life as a low mound and eventually, slowly, spreads to make a flat mat of perfect green foliage.
Here’s the wide view of part of the conifer collection at Hidden Lake Gardens. Amazing how a beautiful space can be created just by using different colors, shapes, and sizes of conifers!
For more ideas on designing with conifers, check out this article.
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