Winter has its moments of unmatched beauty. The day after a heavy snow fall, that is 24 degrees with crystal blue skies and no wind, is magical.
For many of us these types of days are few and far between. And I’m sure a lot of us wish we could listen to the bear in us and stay in bed.
Depending where you live, winter comes in different forms. This article speaks to the people who live where the winters are long and harsh.
I live in the Northwest, where winters are not as harsh as in some parts of the country, but we have what they call a fair amount of “Liquid Sunshine”, that would be rain anywhere else.
There is something about an Evergreen that springs hope eternal. Whether it be covered in snow with its branches drooping and still glowing emerald green, or standing in the driving rain with each limb dripping with water and all the time seeming to say, “Ain’t this great”. There are many varieties of evergreens, but this article covers seven specific species.
They would be:
1 Portuguese Laurels
2 Pacific Madrone
3 Hinoki Cypress
4 Leyland Cypress
5 Mountain Fire
6 Viburnum David
On their own, each is a beautiful tree or shrub. In the right combinations and locations they provide warmth, beauty and privacy.
Portuguese Laurels are a magnificent shrub. They love water, perfect for the Pacific Northwest winters, and once they are established, the more you trim them the more they thrive and grow. A natural hedge with white flowers in early summer, which become red berries and then turn a black purple in fall, all the time being admired by you and your neighbors.
Madrone Strawberry Trees are unique in that they can be a shrub or a tree depending on how you trim them. They bloom a strawberry like flower in the summer and follow that with a white seed like bloom in late autumn. The birds love these seeds and feast on them as the weather turns colder.
Hinoki Cypress are great boundary trees, especially when planted in twos and threes. They have a cedar looking bark and grow to about 10-12 feet tall and 4-6 feet wide. Their branches are sparse, which allows you to enjoy their rich looking bark. They have soft “needles”, and like the Portuguese Laurels, they love water.
The center piece of the seven evergreens is the Leyland Cypress. These are majestic trees that command attention. Their height and width, depending on the variety you get, varies greatly. We chose the Leyland based on the fact it grows 8 feet wide and 25 feet high. Other forms of this tree can be overbearing, especially if you have limited space, as it will take over in a short period of time. They thrive in rain and once the sun comes out, they shoot skyward. It is not uncommon to have three to four feet of growth in the span of a year. It makes a wonderful boundary tree, providing privacy and very pleasing to the eye.
Fire Mountain is flowering shrub. It has a lot more color than the above mentioned evergreens. Along with green, it displays bright red leaves in late winter and early spring, which then become shiny green. Each season builds upon the previous season’s growth. The addition of the red truly stands out in the dead of winter amid all the green. Planted along a fence in sets of three to five, it grows to eventually hide the fence and provides a nice border.
Viburnum David, depending on the variety you choose, grows as a mounded shrub. It has deep veined dark green leaves, and although not a fast grower initially, once it establishes itself it grows at a steady pace. In autumn they produce white flowers that in turn become a beautiful blue berry. When planted in groups of 5 to 7, it grows into a solid year round addition to any landscape. I prefer to plant these in line with the Mountain Fire or in combination with them. The mixture of the different greens along with the red can alleviate any winter depression.
Cotoneaster is a magnificent shrub. It takes time to get it going, which is why I recommend planting 5 gallon pots as opposed to 1 gallon. It can be used as a ground cover or as an upright plant. When we moved to our home five years ago, I noticed this beautiful lush plant my neighbor was growing along his side of the fence between our yards. He told me, that if I periodically tied it up along the fence like a vine, eventually it would cover the fence completely. Five years later you can barely see the fence. The best part about this plant is that it produces a white flower in late spring through the beginning of summer and bright red berries in the winter. Starting around November and lasting well after the holidays, the squirrels and birds go crazy for these berries.
Well, there you have it, seven evergreens that can ease the chill off a cold winter’s day, if only for the brief time you stop to admire them. These might not be the exact ones you would choose, but I hope this article helps you come up with your landscaping ideas for creating a green backyard retreat and make your winter days a little more bright. Sit down with some cookies and milk and come up with a landscape design. Spring is not that far away and the quicker you plant the quicker you get to enjoy.
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