Easy Care Conifers

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Fillicoides’ & Picea omorika ‘Bruns’

I use a lot of conifers in my garden designs and have many in my personal garden.  They are wonderful, easy going plants that add year-round color and texture to the landscape.  When planted in the right place and properly established they are truly low-maintenance plants, that is until you get a foot of heavy wet snow.

My typical operating procedure for a big snow fall is to 1) walk around the garden admiring the magical scene; 2) take our dog Gidget for a long snowy walk; and 3) knock the snow off the conifers with a broom.  Last Friday we got close to a foot of snow.  I got around to numbers one and two and then got lazy.  I came inside to warm up and just couldn’t gin up the energy to go back outside with the broom.  Dennis decided to make chocolate chip cookies and that didn’t help my inertia.

When I went out Saturday with the broom I was appalled at how heavy the snow was.  I knew it was deep, but so wet!  One of the first conifers I uncovered was the big Thunderhead Pine, Pinus thunbergii ‘Thunderhead’ and boy was I sorry for my sloth.  About a third of the tree had snapped off from the snow load.  After an hour and a half I had made it around the garden.  The Thunderhead was the worst of the damage for sure, but the Globe Arborvitae were pretty spayed open.  Fingers crossed that they stand back up.

Other evergreens needed help including the Sky Pencil Hollies, Ilex crenata ‘Sky Pencil’, and the Upright Plum Yews, Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Fastigiata’.  But after a couple of days, they all seem to be looking as they should.  The real champs are the Spruces and the Hinoki Falsecypresses.  They came away totally unscathed.

Terrace Garden under 10″ of Snow

These occasional big snows almost always come with power outages.  The Eastern White Pines that are ubiquitous in the North Carolina mountains do not tolerate the heavy snow and snap off taking power lines with them.  Dennis has renamed them Pinus downus rather than Pinus strobus.

It is lovely though to see the garden transformed.  It has been a couple of years since we’ve had this much snow, so I took lots of pictures.

Our 100′ Hemlock dwarfing a Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Crippsii’

Dennis & Gidget
(Our big Hemlock poking up above the ridge, center slope)


Viburnum burkwoodii still in color

Tracery of snow-covered branches


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