Introduction to Conifers Growing Conifer Trees and Shrubs in Your Garden
The moment I talk about conifers, your immediate visualization of this genus is going to be of a stately fir tree in the winter, or a pine tree. For a majority of us, conifers, start and stop at fir trees.
However, the term “conifer”means the wife’s army of large, medium, small and large cone producing plants. These include the Cedars, the Pines, the Larches, the Junipers, the Cypress, the Spruce and the Silver Firs.
Only a full-fledged botanist could do justice to the wide range of variety of all these plants, but this book is going to give you an understanding of conifers in general and how they can be stately additions to your garden.
Most of these plants are evergreens, and that is the reason why if you were living in the 19th century, your garden would have been overflowing with a surfeit of these plants.
Many of them are more treelike than shrub – like after a few years. That is why it is necessary to plant any of the larger growing types with due care and an eye to the future.
So for all of us who have the habit of lumping conifers under a general title of fir trees, it will be well to remember that we are now approaching rather slippery ground in the matter of botanical taxonomic classification!
It is true that pines are often called “fir trees.” And even the most innocent gardening newbie is going to associate the word for tree with that plant, which is so well beloved and desirable as a cherished Christmas symbol.
Anyway, for the scientifically inclined, botanists have divided this type of tree into four large genera – the Silver firs (Abies), the hemlocks (Tsuga), the Douglas firs (Pseudotseuga) and the Spruces [Picea]. Surprisingly enough, nursery men mix up these four genera in their catalogs a great deal.
So how are you going to recognize the plant you want, if the nursery man does not know what exactly he is offering you under the blanket generation name of conifers?
Here are some easy tips –
The female cones of the Silver firs are always going to be erect, while the female cones of the spruces are going to be drooping.
Pull off a living leaf from the shoot. In the case of the Silver fir, it is going to break off sharply. In the case of the Spruce, it is going to tear away with a little piece of bark attached to it.
It was in the 18th and 19th centuries that these plants began to be associated with sober dignity, especially in cemeteries, because that was where they began to be planted in great numbers.
Though generally speaking, most of the conifers are easy to grow, nevertheless, they demand a good depth of reasonably for type soil. They also need efficient drainage and moisture in dry summers.
Planting is going to be made easy by the fact that most of them have their roots clustered in a compact ball of soil. This is going to make their transfer from a nursery to your garden quite a safe project.
Growing a large conifer in a limited space like a pot does not allow it to reach its full potential.
That is why it is necessary that anybody attempting to grow conifers in his garden should visit and to consider carefully some of the existing collections of matured specimens in his vicinity, outdoors.
After that, he should look at the general, as well as the individual effect of particular plants. It is only then he should deliberate about the site, and whether the site is entirely suitable for a plant which needs space to grow.
Neglect of these precautions or even insufficient knowledge may eventually be the cause of one or more costly failures. That is when you got some expensive species from somewhere else and decided to transplant them in your own garden without considering the ensuing result, effect or outcome.
Also, you need to remember that a number of species of silver firs and spruces have deceptive habits of growing apparently well and three fluidly for about 10 – 20 years. During this time they are going to present a really charming appearance. And then they begin to grow shabby, lose their good looks and distinctive appearance and are frequently attacked by various diseases.
Why is this so? The answer is clear. They need plenty of rainfall to maintain them in good health. So remember that spruces, along with Silver firs need a little rainy climate and that is why they do so well on mountain tops.
Many people, who are planting them in places where it does not rain so much try to get over this difficulty by putting them in places where they can get lots of moisture at the root. But they need perfect drainage and any sort of waterlogging is going to kill them off really quickly.
Along with rain, remember that they do not like direct fierce rays of the sun. They also do not like a dry atmosphere. When you take all these factors into account, it is not difficult to understand why really fine old specimens of silver firs and Spruce are rarely met in gardens. However, you are going to get them in large quantities growing in the wild, where they have grown under a measure of shelter.So let us get to the plants which we can grow in our garden without too much of a hassle.
This book has introduced you through the magic of conifers. Not only are they going to provide your garden with a splendid Vista as they grow, but they also provide style and distinction to important garden locations.
Remember that the best permanent effects in your garden are going to be made up of fine conifer specimens. Gardening enthusiasts are going to obtain greater pleasure from the contemplation of one first-class specimen of one common species than from the site of an indifferent and misshapen example of comparative rarity.
This is a matter of interest and attention. In the case of conifers because the effect produced by them all is to a large extent similar. On the other hand, their likes and dislikes are varied! So you may need to ask the help of an experienced nursery man to give you more help and useful advice to keep your conifers healthy in your particular locality, climate, soil type and area.