I’ve been growing conifers for so long that I may have become desensitized to what is considered unusual or weird. When I have new guests visit my garden – those with very little prior exposure to the world of conifers – I find myself a little surprised by their total amazement with the plants in my collection. It seems that what I once saw (and others continue to see) as weird and wonderful, I have come to recognize as simply, wonderful.
As I was enjoying the amazing spring-like weather over the weekend, I discovered that I still have plenty of open space in my garden where early season weeds can germinate and create a lovely ground covering sea of green and white. I knew that this was my last chance to pull these particular weeds because they had been flowering for at least a week and with warmer temperatures on the way, they would be producing their “popping” seeds which means that they will very effectively spread themselves even further in my garden.
As much as I enjoy crawling around on my hands and knees pulling weeds, I believe it is time to fill those empty spaces with conifers to prevent any more of this particular garden activity. My mind begins to wander as to what new conifer would be just the right fit in the space I need to fill. It must be dwarf, low maintenance, and it would need to be something extremely unusual.
Why, you ask? Because this small space is framed by larger, more ordinary conifers and a Japanese maple. On their own, each of these plants is a beauty, and together, they have made a very pleasant little vista in my garden. The space I want to fill is like a small room in a gallery awaiting the premier showing of an artist’s new sculpture. I need something that will stand out from the plants around it – something really “out-there” and yet with a unique beauty unlike other conifers in my garden.
I have conifers that can represent every color of the rainbow. I have tall skinny conifers. I have short squat and spreading conifers. I have conifers that grow with perfect uniformity and others that grow with an unpredictable spontaneity and irregularity that they always stir up conversation in those who witness their beauty. Then I remember a wonderful little conifer that I have admired for years and years.
Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Baldwin Variegated’ is a tremendous dwarf Hinoki cypress with an irregular broadly pyramidal habit that will provide a wonderful sculptural element to the garden. It also has one of the most amazing creamy white variegations you will ever see. I can imagine that the uninitiated would find the overall appearance of this small tree quite unusual. (And my wife loves variegated plants.)