Conifers and Heathers For Patios And Pots

It may seem strange to put together in one section two unrelated families of plants, but I have chosen to do this because I believe the combination of conifers and heathers indoors (often as bonsai arrangements) or on the patio and garden makes an unbeatable formula. Given the right treatment initially, a garden should be provided with year round — and I mean in the depths of winter too — colour, contrast and ground cover. If this is the sort of garden which appeals to you, then I hope I can begin to give you some further ideas as to how to achieve it, however small it may be.

Conifers

Before rushing out to buy a conifer to fill an odd corner in the house, patio or garden, assess, if you know, what you require.

conifers on patio

The conifers you obtain from any source will in all probability be quite small initially. This you must be prepared for but it is most important to find out the name of the tree and how large it might become because some conifers will grow only 2 ft. in twenty-five years whilst others may reach 70 ft. during the same length of time. It depends upon the species and variety.

So what are the uses of conifers? All but a few are evergreen but such is the tremendous variety that one can choose from almost any form, shape, colour and eventual height. They can serve as a backcloth to a garden, as a windbreak or a hedge, as ground-cover plants or purely as ornamental specimens in their own right. Both green and blue types will appreciate it more if planted in sunny open situations.

Three cultural hints which particularly apply to conifers are: firstly, the importance of planting in soil that is free from perennial weeds; secondly, to allow a perimeter of soil around a specimen which is planted in grass. This should be at least to a width of 6 in. from the base of the plant, and preferably 12 in. I have seen more conifers spoilt this way than by any other.

Thirdly, I have found it always pays when planting a conifer to spray with an anti-dessicant such as S-600. This helps quite considerably in allowing the plant a breathing space to make fresh root without losing moisture through the foliage and thereby preventing much of the burning often seen on conifers in the late spring. The larger the plant the more important it is to spray it — conifers are valuable and worth a little extra effort.

Cultural Requirementsconifer in pot

Few gardens would be complete, in my opinion, without conifers and few are too inhospitable to grow most types successfully.

However, conifers require a reasonable amount of moisture especially in the first year or two after planting when root systems are becoming established. Although not essential, moist peat incorporated with the soil prior to planting will help the plant get away to a good start, whether it be a specimen from the open ground or a container plant. The ideal times for planting conifers are September, October, March and April, but with the advent of the container plant any time of the year will do though in summer constant watering is essential.

Some conifers will tolerate shade but very few will put up with dry shade, with the exception perhaps of the yews. The golden varieties certainly need sun to obtain their best colours and you will find

Conifers for Garden Use

The majority of gardens these days could not accommodate the large forest trees and so the following list consists mainly of dwarf, slow-growing and medium-sized conifers. To make this more easily understood, approximate height, and spread where relative, of each plant is given at an age of ten years and at maturity. Of course this can be a guide only as rates of growth for the same plant can vary considerably from one side of the country to the other.

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