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Looking Good

Feb 17, 2014

Evergreens for Impact in Winter Gardens

With all the rain and wind that January and February has brought us, it is nice to see Abies concolorsome colour and substance amongst the bare branches against a watery sky. Evergreens, particularly those with strong architectural shapes or variegated foliage, come into their own in these current conditions.

The vertical shapes of conifers are very effective. On a large scale, the distinct form and colour of Abies concolor (right), Picea omorika and Picea orientalis ‘Aurea’ are very effective. On a smaller scale the columnar effect of Juniperus scopulorum ‘Blue Arrow’ can enhance a garden and provide a contrast to the late winter bulbs such as Cyclamen coum.

If you prefer broadleaves to conifers, then Holly is striking at this time of year. Be it the broad thornless glossy leaves of Ilex aquifolium ‘J C van Thol’ or the bright gold variegated leaves of Ilex x altaclarensis ‘Belgica Aurea’, Ilex x altaclarensis ‘Lawsoniana’ or the silver variegated Ilex aquifolium ‘Argenteo Marginata’. A newer but striking holly that has handsome broad glossy leaves and makes a vigorous tree is Ilex x kohneana ‘Chesnut Leaf’ (see image at  base of article).

Something a bit more unusual is Trochodendron araliodes, a handsome large evergreen shrub with broadly dissected compound leaves that take on red tints during winter. It is bone hardy and good in sun or part shade.

Ilex X kohneana 'Chestnut Leaf'