Dwarf and Compact Conifers

on Thursday, 28 November 2019. Posted in Winter Interest, Conifer, Deer Resistant

A Selection of Dwarf and Compact Conifers

We get a lot of requests for dwarf (under 6' tall) and compact (6' to 20' tall) conifers, and this is a great time of year to find a good selection of them here at Shooting Star Nursery!

Let's start with a word about conifer sizes. Like most conifers, these dwarf and compact conifers never really stop growing - it's just that most of them grow fairly slowly and will remain small for a long time. The sizes given in the plant descriptions below are a good representative of their likely size in 10-20 years. Here are a few of our favorite dwarf and compact conifer species:

Picea glauca Procumbens smProstrate Colorado Blue Spruce: A sweet, prostrate form of Colorado Blue Spruce (shown here with Wilma Goldcrest Cypress in the background. These plants will do well in the garden, or in a large containter, and respond well to selective pruning and shaping. Size: 2' tall by 5'-8' wide in 10 years.

  

Hornbrook Pine smHornbrook Pine: A lovely little dark green, dwarf pine; this variety started out as a 'witch's broom' on a standard Austrian Black Pine. They are medium growing (6 to 12"/year), and will reach 3-6' tall and wide in 10 years.

  

Divinely Blue cedar sm'Divinely Blue' Deodar Cedar: Do you love the graceful branches of Deodar Cedars, but can't find the room to accomodate an 80' tall tree? Consider this dwarf form! 'Divinely Blue' has the same blue-green needles of the full-sized Deodar Cedar, but forms a low mounding shape with nodding branch tips. Plants are slow-growing (less than 6"/year), and will measure roughly 2-6' by 3-6' in 10 years.

 

 

Chalet pine detail sm'Swiss Chalet' Stone Pine: This is a very showy and decorative-looking little pine. One of the things that makes it special is that its dark green needles have a white reverse side, which really makes tha plant "pop" in the garden. 'Swiss Chalet' has a moderate growth rate (6-12"/year), and will be 5-8' tall by 2-4' wide in 10 years. While 'Swiss Chalet' can tolerate full sun, it will look even better if you can provide it with a bit of afternoon shade.

 

 Fat Albert sm'Fat Albert' Blue Spruce: This tree is pretty much everything you have ever wanted in a Blue Spruce, and is one of our favorits here at Shooting Star! It's also a wonderful choice for a living Christmas tree. The needles are a lovely shade of blue-green, and ttrees have a chubby, densely pyramidal shape (hence the name). 'Fat Albert' is a fairly fast grower - often over 12"/year - and can reach sizes of 25' by 15' at maturity.

  

The Blues'The Blues' Weeping Blue Spruce: If you are looking for a truly striking specimen conifer that can provide a strong focal point in your garden, 'The Blues' Weeping Blue Spruce is a great choice. 'The Blues' has an irregular, weeping form - and no two plants are alike. They respond well to creating pruning and shaping, as you can see from the three shown to the right. Plants are relatively slow growing - generally around 6"/year, and will reach 6-8' tall by 2-4' wide in 10 years.

Compact Conifers

on Saturday, 07 December 2019. Posted in Winter Interest, Conifer, Deer Resistant

A Selection of Dwarf and Compact Conifers

Compact conifers - which range in size from 6' to 20' tall - are the perfect-sized plant for a small to mid-sized yard. They're large enough to make a statement but are a much more manageable size than large conifers, which can reach heights of 60-80' tall!

As we mentioned in our last Plant of the Week article, compact conifers never really stop growing - it's just that most of them grow fairly slowly and will remain small for a long time. The sizes given in the plant descriptions below are a good representative of their likely size in 10-20 years. Here are a some of our favorite compact conifers:

Dwarf Alberta Spruce smDwarf Alberta Spruce: A dark green, columnar spruce. They are relatively slow growing (around 6"/year), and will reach 10 to 12’ tall by 4’ to 5’ wide in 10 years  

Tannenbaum

'Tannenbaum' Pine: 'Tannenbaum' is a taller variety of the popular Mugo Pine. They are dark green, with a dense pyramidal shape. Plants are moderate growing (6' to 12'/year) and will be approximately 10- 15’ tall by 6-12’ wide in 10 years.

  

Silberlocke Fir detail'Horstmann's Silberlocke' Fir: This is such a showy little fir! 'Horstmann's Silberlocke' features upcurved needles with a white underside (see photo to the left).  Plants have a moderate growth habit (generally 6" to 12"/year), and will be around 12’ by 8’,  in 10 years.

 

 Black Hills Spruce sm

'Black Hills' Spruce: ‘Black Hills’ Spruce is more heat tolerant than most other spruce, and has a nice greenish-blue color. They’re slow growing (generally less that 6”/year, and will reach 15-20’ tall by 10-15’ wide in 10 years. 

 

 Oregon Green Pine ed'Oregon Green' Pine: A lovely deep, rich green pine with a moderate growth rate (6-12”/year); likely reaching 18-20’ tall by 15’ wide in 10 years.  

  Picea pungens Hoopsi sm

'Hoopsi' Blue Spruce: ‘Hoopsi’ is the very bluest of blue spruces! Plants grow around 6-12”/year, and will generally be about 25’ tall by 15’ wide at maturity.

Large Conifers

on Thursday, 12 December 2019. Posted in Winter Interest, Conifer, Deer Resistant

Full-sized Conifers: For Christmas and Beyond!

This week, we're going to talk about the big guys: iconic conifers that will reach over 60' tall at maturity. Most of these conifers are also fast-growing. There's something pretty magical about seeing a big healthy conifer in your yard and thinking back to the year you planted it as a small living Christmas tree. If you've got the room, we highly recommend these beauties - and they're all native to the west coast; four out of the five listed here can be found growing wild in Oregon!

 

PonderosaPonderosa Pine: Ponderosas are the classic pine here in southwest Oregon. They're stately-looking trees with dark green needles and dark, flaky bark. The biggest Ponderosa Pine in the state (268' tall) can be found growing in the Big Pine Campground, northwest of Grants Pass. Ponderosa Pines growing in your yard won't get that tall, but you can expect them to easily reach 60' to 100'.

 

Incense CedarIncense Cedar: Incense Cedars get their name from their wonderfully aromatic bark. They're lovely trees with rich green needles and reddish bark, and will happily grow in drier sites than most of the other trees mentioned here. They will probably reach a height of 60' - 70' when grown in your yard, but can get much larger in the wild. One of the largest Incense Cedars in the world - the Tanner Lakes Titan - is from right here in Jackson County, and is over 137', with an amazing dbh (diameter at breast height) of 12.8'!

  

Douglas fir coneDouglas-fir: Douglas-fir is the Oregon State Tree and is named for pioneering botanist David Douglas. Almost everyone is familiar with them as cut Christmas trees, so rather than include a photo of the tree itself, this photo shows the distinctive cones. They'll reach 80' to 100+' in the home landscape. Visitors to the Oregon Caves Big Tree trail have had a chance to see a 600-800 year-old Douglas-fir with the widest girth in the state.

  

Giant SequoiaGiant Sequoia: This is the only plant on the list that isn't native to Oregon, but they do grow well here. The biggest Giant Sequoia on the planet is the General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Forest, which is around 275' tall, with a 100' crown. In the home garden, expect a mature height of about 100'. Young trees are fast growing, and have a densely pyramidal shape with soft-looking bluish green needles. 

 

 Coast RedwoodCoast Redwood: Anyone who has ever driven along Highway 199 to the coast is familiar with these majestic trees. Coast Redwoods require a bit more water than the other trees listed here (think of the climate they grow in!), and will do especially well if planted along a creek or near a pond. Your tree will likely reach 100' or so tall at maturity. The biggest Coast Redwood in the world is 'Hyperion' - which grows in Redwood National and State Parks in Del Norte County. It measures a stunning 397' tall, making it the tallest tree in the world!

  

Shooting Star Nursery regularly carries all these trees, albeit in much smaller sizes than listed above! If you like the idea of planting a tree as a living legacy, this might just be the year to plant one of these beautiful conifers. 

Panicum virgatum

on Thursday, 01 October 2020. Posted in Winter Interest, Fall Color, Deer Resistant, Grasses, Flowering Plants

Switchgrass

Echinacea and PanicumPanicum virgatum – also known as Switchgrass – is native to the tallgrass prairies of the Great Plains. Its height, texture, and stunning fall color have made it a favorite of gardeners throughout the Rogue Valley.

Switchgrass is drought tolerant and deer resistant, but will also tolerate clay soils well. Plants prefer full sun and relatively lean soil (over-fertilized plants can get floppy). Light, airy flower heads appear in mid-summer and remain attractive through the winter months; providing four-season interest in the garden.

As with all ornamental grasses here in the Rogue Valley, we recommend leaving the grasses standing through the winter (the leaves provide habitat for beneficial insects and the seeds are beloved by overwintering birds) and cut back in late winter/early spring.

We carry three different varieties of Switchgrass here at Shooting Star Nursery:

Panicum Heavy MetalHeavy Metal – Striking metallic blue-gray leaves with airy buff-pink flower heads. Plants reach 5-6’ tall by 2-3’ wide.

 

Northwind – Strong, upright growth habit; blue-green leaves turn a lovely tawny gold in the fall. Reaches 6’ by 3’. Northwind was the 2014 Perennial Plant of the Year. See photo at top of the page.

 

Panicum2cropShenandoah – During the growing season, green leaves are tipped with reddish-purple and the whole plant turns red and orange in the fall. Truly striking! 3-4’ tall by 18” wide.

Polystichum munitum

on Wednesday, 30 September 2020. Posted in Winter Interest, Native, Evergreen, Shade Plants, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant

Western Sword Fern

Western Sword FernThe sculptural fronds of ferns provide lots of winter interest, and Western Sword Fern is one of the toughest, most drought tolerant, and easiest ferns to grow in the Rogue Valley. 

This native fern can tolerate our dry summers and wet winters and even take a little sun. It prefers to be an understory plant but established ferns in good, composty soil will tolerate quite a bit of sun. The key is to get them well established with deep waterings the first few summers and applications of yearly leaf mulch or compost mulch. Western Sword Fern has a courser texture than some more delicate ferns but that makes their fronds last longer, allowing them to be used in cut flower arrangements. The leathery, dark green fronds can be 2-4' tall depending where they are grown and can be used alone or look especially good in clumps or drifts. 

fiddleheadWe like to use Western Sword Ferns under large trees, like oaks, combined with Euphorbia purpurea, Heuchera sanguinea or the purple leafed varieties of Coral bells, Mahonia repens, and other dry shade perennials and shrubs. All ferns are deer resistant and the Western Sword Fern is no exception. They are evergreen but will look their best with an annual shearing of the oldest fronds in spring to allow the new fronds to uncurl. Leave the old, pruned fronds as a natural mulch.  Ferns are always interesting to watch throughout the seasons and Western Sword Fern makes an especially nice evergreen specimen in the shade garden.