Colorful Conifers

I am getting excited about spring! The days are getting longer, the sun is peaking out from behind the clouds from time to time, and I’ve been able to work in my garden with just a sweatshirt and vest instead of my winter coat and raingear.  The garden beds have been pretty much cleared of the remains of last year’s perennials and the debris that had blown in over the winter.

Every year as I’m doing my late winter cleanup, I tell myself to fill in more of my garden spaces with dwarf conifers since they require so little care and provide color all year long. I know my wife will try to talk me into adding just a few more flowering plants, and I’m sure that I’ll give in because they are great companions to my conifers, but I know I’m going to use most of my garden budget this year to increase my collection of low maintenance, colorful, dwarf conifers.

Thuja occidentalis 'Golden Tuffet'

The first one on my list is Thuja occidentalis ‘Golden Tuffet’ for its rich golden orange color, fine texture and compact form. I’ve got just the place for it near the gray-green of my Picea pungens ‘Globe’, the bright blue of my Picea pungens ‘St. Mary’s Broom,’ the rich green of Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Gracilis’ and the deep red of my Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Crimson Queen.’ This little corner of color will loose the reds of the ‘Crimson Queen’ Japanese maple during the winter, but all the other colors will remain year-round.

I’m sure once I’ve brought home and planted a ‘Golden Tuffet’, my wife will be happy with the color spot it provides (and I’ll have eliminated another area of annuals in my garden with a colorful, easy care plant that we can enjoy year after year).

Conifer Lover


4 thoughts on “Colorful Conifers

  1. Hi Conifer Lover,

    I am conifer curious, zone 7a in Long Island NY. I have a brand new south facing border about 40′ long and 8′ wide that is along my front entry walkway. I am thinking of planting an evergreen conifer menagerie…any ideas for me would be appreciated.

    happy to receive evergreen conifer book recommendations as well.

    Your garden looks beautiful.



    1. Hi Thomas – welcome the the world of conifers! I’ll begin by telling you that in Zone 7a you’ll have a fairly wide assortment of conifers to choose from. For me to make recommendations for you would require that I put my mind reading powers into use. You’ll have to decide what you like and experiment with different things.

      Here are some books that I have enjoyed over the years. The first two are newer publications and should be readily available. The final three I’ve had for a great many years and may no longer be in print (though you might find bargins on used copies online).

      Gardening with Conifers by Adrian Bloom is a great introduction to garden conifers with great color photos.
      A Natural History of Conifers by Aljos Farjon is a good read if you are interested in going deeper.
      Conifers For Your Garden by Adrian Bloom was my first conifer book – again a great introduction with inspirational color photos.
      Ornamental Conifers from the Know Your Garden Series is also good with many color photos.
      Conifers by van Gelderen / van Hoey Smith is a huge reference packed with information.

      Let me also suggest you join the American Conifer Society, visit their website and the conifer forum at The Garden Web (links in the menu on the right).


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