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Exploring Conifers - Garden Trekking

I have been thinking a lot about conifers and wondering why gardeners, including myself, do not turn to these plants as often as we should when designing a new garden. The best reason I can think of is that it is difficult to imagine what a full-grown conifer will look like in the garden. It is also a tad more difficult for most to visualize how that conifer will work with the other plants in the garden.

Luckily the Jan/Feb issue of Horticulture goes a long way to addressing these common concerns. Another way to immerse yourself in all things conifer is to take a little garden trip. Garden trekking may not come to mind when the gardens are starting to close up for the winter, but truth be told, a well-designed garden looks great year-round. And a conifer garden laughs at winter, knowing that with a light dusting of snow, its evergreen trees will really shine.

I took a walk about the grounds of the Stanley M. Rowe Arboretum, in Cincinnati's village of Indian Hill, the other day to explore the trails and see first-hand the design flexibility and value of conifers in the home landscape.

Garden Trekking Rowe Arboretum Conifers

Front to back – ‘St. Mary’s Brood’ Colorado dwarf blue spruce, ‘Canoe’ globe hemlock, Taxus ‘Viridis’, and Taxus ‘Andersonii’ in the rear. American Holly on the left and ‘Moonstruck’ weeping Alaskan Cedar on the right.

Garden Trekking Rowe Arboretum Conifers

Various junipers in the foreground, ‘Hiti’ columnar taxus , ‘Andersonii’ and ‘Thayeri’ taxus with ‘Ivory Chalice’ magnolia on the left and Sciadopytis – Japanese Umbrella pine on the right.

Garden Trekking Rowe Arboretum Conifers

Pseudolarix amabilis or golden larch (just starting to turn color) in front with a ‘Monstrosa’ Norway spruce in the back. A little piece of a dawn redwood is in the left.