I heard the silliest story the other day. A good friend and I had an opportunity to meet for lunch and get caught up with each other’s activities over the past several months. We are both gardeners, so we spent most of our time talking about the world of gardening. My friend had an opportunity to go to a symposium which included a rather well-known horticultural celebrity as one of the featured speakers. Apparently, this fellow was trying to sell the concept that the color green was not a color. From what I was told, he had his audience repeating, “Green is not a color! Green is not a color!…”
Green is not a color? That was one of the silliest things I had heard in quite a long time. Not only is green a color, but it is a color within which many shades and hues exist – so much so, that I devoted an early garden design to the color, relying upon the various textures, forms and growth rates of the plants to create interest in the space.
Green is possibly the most prominent color found in nature. Our planet has millions and millions of acres of green forests, green lawns, and green algae. Not only does the color green dominate the plant world, but many shades, hues and tones of green are found prevalent in animal life, from skin and feathers to tongues! Green is most certainly a color – and an important one to our lives. Imagine a world without the green of chlorophyll, and you have a world without photosynthesis. Without photosynthesis, the inhabitants of the world would certainly turn blue – from the lack of oxygen!
Green is also known as a color that inspires balance and harmony. Many hospitals use light green in the patient’s rooms because of its calming effects. Green is the color of renewal and restoration and is a natural peacemaker. I know I always feel a sense of peace and calm when I am in a forest, mature garden or just lying on a green lawn.
The color green is very well represented in the conifer world. From giant forest trees to tiny miniatures and trees growing at the edge of the alpine tree-line to lush sub-tropical regions, green conifers are found almost everywhere on planet Earth. Believe it or not, I have a few green conifers in my garden too.
Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana’ is one of my all-time favorite selections of Dwarf Hinoki Cypress. During the peak of its spring flush, its new growth is a bright green color which hardens to the rich, lush, dark green that persists all summer and autumn. As winter sets in, ‘Nana’ seems to darken to one of the darkest greens in the garden.
Another form, Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Filifera’, the Thread-Branch Cypress, though green, is a lighter green than ‘Nana’. To my eye, its green color appears to have been brightened with a hint of yellow, which I presume indicates a little less chlorophyll production in its genetic code, but experts with far more scientific knowledge than myself might have another explanation. Most important to me, is that this slow-growing conifer adds a very pleasing color to the garden with the added interest of its unique texture, due to the long filament-like foliage.
Chamaecyparis thyoides ‘Heather Bun’ is the final selection in today’s tiny look at the color green in the conifer garden. The Atlantic White Cedar is not truly a Cedar at all, but another species of Cypress which simply adds confusion in the garden world, but the silliness of most common names is the topic for a future post. I chose ‘Heather Bun’ because of its color changing properties. In spring, it pushes its soft, lush, grass-green foliage which, like ‘Nana’ above, will harden off to a darker green color. Though the green of ‘Heather Bun’ seems to be tinted with a bit of blue giving it a hue all its own. When winter arrives, ‘Heather Bun’ begins to take on a plum blush as if shyly responding to the kiss of a secret admirer.
Of course, these three plants are just a tiny sampling of the vast and wondrous variations of the color green that can be found in the amazing world of conifers.