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.

Heaths and Heathers

on Thursday, 21 November 2019. Posted in Winter Interest, Evergreen, Fall Color, Shade Plants, Deer Resistant, Shrubs

Heaths and Heathers

EricaHeaths and Heathers are two closely-related evergreen shrubs that are great additions to the shade or partial shade garden. 

Heaths (Erica sp., see photo to the left) have needle-like leaves and bloom during the winter, a welcome sight during those cold, gray months! Plants are low growing - generally from 6" to 15" tall by 2' wide - and have flowers in shades of white, pink, and purple. Heaths can tolerate full sun, but are also happy in partial sun. 

CallunaHeathers (Calluna sp., see photo to the right), on the other hand, have scale-like leaves and bloom from summer through the fall. They get a bit larger than Heaths; generally growing from 1' to 2' tall by up to 3' wide. Flowers are also various shades of white, pink, and purple. Heathers do best in part-sun, and can be a little fussy about watering (they don't like being over-watered or under-watered).

Both Heaths and Heathers prefer well-drained soils, and are relatively deer-resistant and undemanding. As an extra bonus, many varieties of Heath and Heather have foliage that colors up nicely in fall weather, in shades ranging from copper to orange to red. If you plant a mixture of the two, you'll end up with something in bloom for most of the year - along with some great fall color!

Baccharis 'Twin Peaks'

on Thursday, 14 November 2019. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Native, Deer Resistant, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant

'Twin Peaks' Coyote Brush

Baccharis flower'Twin Peaks' is one plant that really took me by surprise in the Shooting Star display gardens. 

Coyote Brush is widely known as a sturdy, fast growing, drought tolerant, evergreen native plant. The straight species (Baccharis pilularis) tends to be a little rangy and weedy-looking, but the 'Twin Peaks' cultivar forms a dense, mounding shrub - generally reaching around 2' tall by 6' wide. These plants thrive in the hot sun and in a variety of soils; including clay soil if they are planted on a slope. In fact, they're frequently used to help stabilize slopes and banked areas. As an extra bonus, deer tend to avoid them. 'Twin Peaks' is attractive enough to use up close to your house as an evergreen shrub, but is also a great choice for planting in extremely sunny areas, areas with poor soil, and out away from regular irrigation.

Baccharis Twin Peaks smThe thing that surprised me about 'Twin Peaks'? While the flowers (shown above) are fairly modest and unassuming, these plants are one of the best pollinator plants we grow here at Shooting Star - and we grow a lot of pollinator-friendly plants! On a recent late fall afternoon, the 'Twin Peaks' in our display garden was not only covered in flowers, but hosted the most diverse assortment of pollinators I've seen on a single plant: honeybees, bumblebees, tiny solitary bees, skippers, butterflies - even a big bee fly! 

While 'Twin Peaks' is a truly low-maintenence plant, a light annual pruning in early spring will help keep the plants looking full and dense. 

Cupressus macrocarpa 'Wilma Goldcrest'

on Tuesday, 29 October 2019. Posted in Winter Interest, Conifer, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant

'Wilma Goldcrest' Cypress

48981137793 2fd01884fc kThis is one adorable little conifer.

'Wilma Goldcrest' is a perfect plant for those tight spaces where you really want a splash of bright color. In the ground, they'll reach 6' to 8' tall, and up to 2' wide. They're fairly slow-growing, which also makes them a good choice for growing in containers.

Plants are evergreen, with beautiful golden chartreuse foliage that really lights up an area - especially when placed near plants with dark green or purple-colored leaves. The fragrant foliage smells like lemons (one of its nicknames is Lemon Cypress) which makes the plants unattactive to deer. 

'Wilma Goldcrest' is tolerant of a wide range of conditions, but it looks best when grown in bright light and lean soil. Plants grown in the shade will loose their "golden glow" and look a little more lime-colored. While 'Wilma Goldcrest' is relatively drought tolerant when planted in the ground, plants grown in containers will need regular water in order to keep the foliage from drying out and browning.

Bright yellow color, fragrant foliage, deer resistant, and year-round interest in the garden: there's clearly a lot to love about this tiny relative of the Monterey Cypress!

Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance'

on Tuesday, 22 October 2019. Posted in Fall Color

'Autumn Brilliance' Serviceberry

Amelanchier Autumn Brilliance flower

We are absolutely in love with this serviceberry! It works well as either a small single-trunked tree or large multi-trunk shrub; personally, we like it multi-stemmed but we generally have single-stemmed plants available as well. In either case, you'll find that they are a wonderful addition to your landscape!

Autumn Brilliance plant crop edit'Autumn Brilliance' provides great visual interest throughout the year. New leaves emerge bronze in early spring; becoming a lovely blue-green in summer, and a fiery orange-red in fall. Clusters of white flowers appear in late and are followed by tasty blue-black fruits that are enjoyed by both birds and humans.

Plants are fairly fast growing, and are easy to care for. They do well in either full to part sun, and prefer well-drained soils. They can be fairly drought tolerant once established, and reach 20' by 15' at maturity. They're a great alternative for multi-trunked Japanese maples if you have a full-sun exposure. 

'Autumn Brilliance' is a hybrid of two different native east coast serviceberries. We also carry our native western serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) here at the nursery. A. alnifolia is a bit smaller than 'Autumn Brilliance', and generally reaches about 12' by 6' at maturity. They bloom and fruit about a month later, are easy to care for, and are excellent wildlife-friendly plants: the berries are heavily visited by a variety of pollinators, birds love the berries, and the plants also provide nice nesting sites for songbirds.