Rainbows and rants

We  have been experiencing a rather typical Pacific Northwest February with plenty of chilly temperatures, rain showers, sun breaks and the occasional rainbow sighting. The other day, after completing several chores around the house, my wife and I decided to allow someone else to fix us dinner and treated ourselves to an early dinner out. Moments after we were seated near an east-facing window, it started raining. As it turned out, this was one of those heavy downpours that last only a few minutes and are followed by a sun break. In fact, while we gazed out our window, it seemed as though the rain has almost completely stopped while looking out a window on the other side of the building, we could see the rain was still pouring as it was highlighted by the bright sun.

The winter conifer garden is full of color, texture, form and interest.

My wife has a special gift of being able to sense when a rainbow is coming and within a moment or two, she announced, that we were in a perfect spot to see the rainbow. I looked out the window across the nearly barren landscape of the restaurant and looked back and forth for her anticipated rainbow. Sure enough, within a couple of minutes, one began to materialize right before our eyes. It slowly grew in intensity until we could see the entire thing, from end to end. The colors became brighter and brighter and then a second rainbow appeared in an outer ring not far from the original.

In a few more minutes, the magical color had dissipated, the rain began to fall again and we were left with a view of the bleak landscaping darkened by the now gray, cloud filled sky.

“When are people going to figure out that even commercial landscapes could be places of year-round color and interest if they would use dwarf conifers?” I asked my wife, not expecting an answer.

The low winter sun, diffused by many clouds, provides a well-lighted vista of the Jean Iseli Memorial Garden.

It really does not matter whether the sun is shining or not, a barren winter landscape, splattered about with few Barberry plants, some Rhododendrons and a flowering cherry or two just does not make an attractive winter scene. Since winter lasts from November through March around here, nearly half of the year many landscapes are bleak and barren. How simple it would be to design a commercial landscape with colorful, low-maintenance dwarf conifers! There may be more of an initial investment for the property owner, but in the long run, the cost of maintaining dwarf conifers in any landscape should be dramatically lower.

The incredible color and interest of the conifer garden is highlighted during a winter sun break.

Most commercial properties are not designed for outdoor lawn activities, so why pay to plant, fertilize, irrigate and mow a huge, lush green lawn that no one uses? Dwarf, intermediate and even large conifers would be a perfect replacement for large expanses of lawn grass in commercial landscapes. Reducing lawn areas to complement the visuals in many designs may be more effective, aesthetically and monetarily.

Once established, conifers require very little care. One would need to inspect for insect infestations and treat accordingly. Complementing any garden design with a mix of plants can encourage a proper balance of predator insects which can keep the unwanted critters under control. With the proper plant selections, there should be very little pruning necessary aside from trimming out the occasional dead branch from the abuses plants in public spaces often endure.

Low maintenance, drought resistant, colorful, hardy conifers, for beautiful gardens all year-long, I say!

Who’s with me?

Conifer Lover

5 thoughts on “Rainbows and rants

  1. Some day I’m going to come out there & see the Iseli collection. I’ve seen the Gotelli & Smith collections in Washington, DC, but that was a long time ago. My own little collection in S. Maine is currently under 3′ of snow with more coming this weekend! I’m just a little envious this time of year.


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