Sunday, March 30, 2014

Garden Canadensis: The Final Post

Larix decidua 'Puli' on its own stem. Chen tells me that you most often see it on a high graft.

Do you see the tall, fresh-green conifer in the middle-background of this picture? 

On the day I visited Garden Canadensis I didn't pay it much attention; the focus of my camera lens fixed solely on the flashier flowers in the foreground. But now, as I looked back at my pictures, I can see how hard it had worked to try to catch my attention; flirting and waving its soft green curls at me, "You-hoo, Mz. picture taker. Over here!"

What a shame I didn't pay it any heed, and my images of the curly conifer are all in soft focus!

The beauty of conifers is conspicuous as that of flowers. It requires the patience to take a closer look. 

Pinus contorta 'Taylor's Sunburst' Chen: "This pine is famous for its cream color 
shoots in spring that contrast nicely with the green foliage."

My immediate response is tactile. I always want to reach out and see if the sharp bristles are hard to the touch or... 

or soft as a feather.

We tend to think of conifers as "green", but that brusque description overlooks the amazing diversity and complexity of their color. 

Abies procera 'Sherwoodii' has creamy yellow needles. 

Fresh growth can sometimes be a lighter, brighter color that contrasts beautifully with the deeper colors of more mature growth.

Chamaecyparis pisifera 'True Blue'

I love the steely blue of this Chamaecyparis pisifera 'True Blue' against the deep, dark Ligularia 'Britt Marie Crawford' on the right.

You know when you're a serious plant geek when a color combination like this makes your heart skip a beat.

Abies balsamea 'Eugene's Gold'

"This is one of the most ornamental conifers in my garden. The beautiful light gold foliage is maintained throughout the growing season. So far my 'Eugene's Gold' is showing no signs of developing the strong leader that will transform it into a compact tree. I like its low, spreading habit so I might just leave this as it is and purchase a second Abies balsamea."

Thuja occidentalis 'Rheingold'

And look at this absolutely amazing color! 

This Thuja occidentalis 'Rheingold' is a blaze with yellow-green and orange.

Here is the step-back-view.

The bluish conifer in the foreground is Larix laricina 'Blue Sparkler'. The yellow one behind is Taxus cuspidata 'Aurea' with Picea mariana in the distant background.

Mix a group of conifers together and you can have a really rich and varied tapestry.

Here is a star of a grouping that literally spots traffic. 

Chen tells me people often pull their cars to the side of the road and come to the front door to ask about this particular False cypress.

Picea pungens 'Spring Ghost' on the left. Chen tells me that, "This is one of the most ornamental blue spruce, with creamy white new growth in May/June."

On the right is Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Limerick' Chen:"It is one of the most bright golden False cypress."

But what I possibly like even more than the color, is the interesting shapes and textures conifers add to the garden.

This Larix kaempferi 'Pendula' cascades like water.

( That fantastic geranium is one of Chen's favourites: Geranium pratense 'Dark Reiter' and on the right is Sedum alboroseum 'Mediovariegatum' )

I know this is getting long. Just one last thing I want to draw to your attention: the cones on a few of Chen's conifers.

How cool are these!

Here we are a little closer.

Abies koreana 'Lippetal'

Here is a full view of this dwarf conifer. Approximate dimensions of a 10 year old
Abies koreana 'Lippetal' is approximately 4' x 2'.

Abies koreana 'Blauer Pfiff'

I thought these reddish cones were quite intriguing as well.

Penstemon and a dwarf Eastern white pine Pinus strobus 'Vercurve'

Now, I am sure you must be wondering why, if I am so keen on conifers, there aren't more in my own garden.  

Well, they are not inexpensive for one. You can often buy two or three perennials for the cost of a single conifer. There is something immediately gratifying about going home with a trunk load of plants rather than a few choice specimens.

But gardening is one of those pastimes where patience and perseverance reap the greatest return. If I learned anything from visiting Chen's garden, it's the importance of thinking long range.

The greater reward is not immediate, it's long term.

In conclusion of this series, I want to say a very big thank you to Linda and Chen for allowing me to photograph their private garden. 

It was such a pleasure to wander around for a couple of hours and take pictures.

Chen and Linda, I think your garden is simply incredible!


  1. That is one beautiful collection of photographs. Thanks so much for sharing them. Well done. And I also thank Linda and Chen for the 'tour'.

    Cheers, Diane

  2. What a beautiful place, Jennifer.
    I absolutely LOVE those dark blue cones. I have never seen anything quite like them.
    Wishing you a bright week ahead!

  3. Indeed a more than beautiful private garden. Lovely textures and colours and a great choice of conifers.

  4. I think Chen's garden is incredible too! I am immediately drawn to conifers. In fact, the first thing I noticed in your first photo was the conifer waving to get attention. It got mine! Thanks for a lovely tour through an inspirational garden!

  5. I agree that conifers are stunning in the garden and I always want to touch and smell them. But I have few in my garden. i hope to remedy that once I decide where I am making changes to the garden.

  6. I love conifers, they are the backbone in any garden – even in my tiny garden! One problem with them is that they often get VERY big over time, but I have a few that behave nicely and won’t grow very big even after 30-40 years – after that I don’t really care, it won’t be my problem!
    Loved the Lippetal with the blue cones, thanks for sharing, and I agree, their garden is incredible!

  7. That is one of the most beautiful layered gardens I have ever seen. What a treasure of texture, color, and must have had the best time in there, and they would have had to drag me out, or my camera card would be full first...


  8. I am trying to add conifers into my garden. So much inspiration here. Fabulous combination of colors and textures. So glad you shared this beautiful garden!

  9. I think their garden is incredible too! Thank you for sharing this treasure. I've really enjoyed this little series.

    Question: do you have any suggest ions for more British gardening shows? I'm laid up with a bad back and it would be a wonderful way to kill some time.

    1. Hi Heather, So sorry to hear about your back. I have a few ideas for you. Just email me: Hope your back is better soon!

  10. Their garden truly is incredible! I have enjoyed your series on their garden. And I love the conifers. I agree that they are often overlooked by gardeners, but add so much to a garden.

  11. I have been thinking of different conifers to add this year! Those color examples up there are just fantastic! My favorite is the plum purple with that lime green!! This garden must have been such a joy to stroll through! Every shot that you captured has its own story!!! Lovely week to you friend! Nicole xo

  12. What a wonderful garden! Great advertising for conifers!!!

  13. Now I wish at least one conifer in my tiny garden :) Beautiful, Jennifer !

  14. When we moved here this garden had conifers all over the place but as the garden is relatively small they started to take over and there was no room for prettier plants so they went - this garden of Chen,s being so large can take them and they do look superb. Your photography does you proud - this has been a very interesting garden to visit. Thanks Jennifer.

  15. What a joy! Spectacular photos from a spectacular garden. Thanks Jennifer.

  16. The photos are amaizing and make me feel as I was there, in that garden! Love the blue cones!

  17. Oh, I am SO jealous of this garden, everywhere you look is gorgeous. I love the blue cones too. xxx

  18. Quel beau jardin et de belles découvertes. Merci!

  19. I also want to thank Linda and Chen for letting all of us Plant Geeks into their garden. And to you, for taking such fantastic pictures.
    This garden really was a gem and I will check and re-check some of these photos for the excellent plant combination ideas.

  20. This post was a breath of fresh air. Loved seeing the different Conifer's and the variations in their needle colors. Also those cones on that one were such an amazing color. Truly a wonderful place.

  21. Simply stunning. I REALLY wish I had more room for conifers. I've poked in a few dwarf varieties, but this just makes me want more, more, more!

  22. Considering how long your winters are, a garden of conifers would provide valuable winter interest. But they're pricey here, too. Beautiful garden!

  23. I've enjoyed these tours through this absolutely amazing garden!! Such interesting conifers, and a favourite tree type for me. I too love to run my hand along a branch to feel the textures. Thank you for sharing your photos and interview with Chen ... such inspiration :) Wendy x

  24. Amazing garden and your photos captured it beautifully! I love conifers and these are some of the most beautiful I've seen. I love the cones on Abies Koreana.. they are so unusual. Thanks for bringing us on this tour!

  25. What beautiful photos and garden!! Those blue cones are stunning!

  26. I love that evergreen in the first picture, soft focus or no. In fact the soft focus suits it perfectly. Such masterful use of unique and different evergreens in that garden.

  27. Beautiful photos of an amazing garden. I happened upon your blog from a photo on Pinterest...what a wealth of inspiration

  28. Jennifer girl .. I am totally in love with all of the conifers in this garden. That amazing gold Thuja occidentalis 'Rheingold' ! I want one too ! The weeping forms are so gorgeous ... and those shocking BLUE cones .. who wouldn't want that in their garden ? LOL
    I would love to have many more conifers ... but there is no room so I have to make do with some of my potted ones and the new baby hemlock from last year's adventure.
    Love all these gorgeous pictures !


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