Labour Saving Gardens: Trouble-Free Conifers
The increased emphasis on labour-saving plants these days has brought a new interest in dwarf conifers. A well-chosen group of these perfectly proportioned miniature trees can bring joys of trouble-free landscape gardening into even the smallest areas, giving a sense of maturity and serenity.
The work involved is negligible after initial planting since they are not fussy about. The poorer the soil, the longer they remain dwarfs. They are rarely troubled by pests and diseases.
A dwarf conifer may be one which reaches maturity when only a few feet high; or it may be a slow-growing type of a larger species or an alpine variety. And the garden uses of these little beauties are many.
But there is one point to bear in mind. Most forms of dwarfs are dignified little plants and they hate being made to look ridiculous by thoughtless planting, under large trees for example.
Probably the best place for them is where natural scenic beauty already exists, or where it has been artificially created in miniature … a rockery or surround to a pool. They will fit in perfectly with these surroundings, giving the impression of age and maturity that is associated with trees, yet in scale with adjacent materials.
Dwarf conifers are perhaps best used as a feature, rather than dotted in various parts of the garden. Plan your groups carefully so that you get the best from a wide range of colour, size, habit and even texture. Take into account the winter colours which with some species are different from the summer.
Pay attention to backgrounds, so that they are not overshadowed by other, taller garden subjects. With dwarfs, one really appreciates them better when they can be fully seen. Careful siting is important. None of them likes draughts — as distinct from winds — and over-dry conditions will also affect them for a year or two after planting.
The list of varieties available is endless. Some of the conical or globose forms are excellent when used in isolation on a small lawn or in tubs on the patio while the prostrate, mat-forming qualities of the junipers make them excellent ground-cover plants, particularly for covering banks or difficult ground.
For greater versatility, many types thrive in pots and thus have the advantage of portability. They may be plunged in the garden to help the effect of the season and later moved to the patio or conservatory.
Apart from the true dwarf, your mini-trees will gradually grow larger but there is nothing to stop you moving them to a more appropriate site when they outgrow the first situation.