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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dwarf and Miniature Conifers


This year we have an exceptional group of Dwarf and Miniature Conifers to share with our customers.  They include some of the most miniature conifers available today.  With extremely slow growth rates and tiny size and scale, the miniatures are great for use in alpine gardens and troughs, bonsai, fairy gardens and in model railroad gardens.  We also have a select group of larger scale offerings with great character for conifer and rock gardens, Asian theme gardens, containers and general landscape use.

View our video: Build a Miniature Conifer Rock Garden
Many people want to know the difference between a dwarf and miniature conifer.  The American Conifer Society defines miniature conifers as those that grow an inch or less per year while dwarf conifers grow 1 – 6” per year.  In contrast, a full size conifer may grow more than 12” per year.  It is important to select plants with both the right habit and growth rate for your garden situation. A faster growing tree quickly outgrows its space and a small slow growing tree becomes overrun by other plantings.  Conifers are great structural elements in the garden and careful selection makes them lasting garden treasures.

Mixed plantings in a trough
Container grown plants generally grow more slowly than those in the open garden.  Growing conifers in pots confines the root ball and limits their size.  Techniques used in bonsai plantings such as trimming roots and aggressive pruning further reduce growth rates.

Some of our latest and greatest catalog additions include:

Note the golden tips on the 'Jean Iseli' Hinoki Cypress
Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Jean Iseli’ is a perfect miniature Hinoki Cypress, complete with swirling fans of dark green, olive tipped, foliage.  It grows a mere 1” per year, making it perfect for the miniature garden.

An established 'Tansu'
The Japanese Cedar Cryptomeria japonica ‘Tansu’ is a slow-growing dwarf with an intriguing jagged upright shape that grows 3-5” per year to a height of 3-5 feet in 10 years.  In contrast, Cryptomeria japonica ‘Tensan’ is miniature with an extremely dense habit that grows only 1 ½” per year to a height of 18” in 10 years.   Both take on a striking bronze blush in winter.


Picea glauca 'Blue Planet'
Our favorite spruce is Picea glauca ‘Blue Planet’.  It is a choice miniature White Spruce that forms a dense irregular bun of tiny blue needles.  Its slow growth, appearance and cold hardiness to -30 degrees F makes it a great addition to an alpine trough.


Tsuga canadensis 'Iron Springs'
Tsuga heterophylla ‘Iron Springs’ is a slow growing Western Hemlock with dark green needles and light colored bark and a distinctive growth habit.  It grows to 6’ tall by 3’ wide in 10 years and gives a sub-alpine feel to your rock garden.


Tsuga canadensis 'Minuta'
 Tsuga canadensis ‘Minuta’ is one of the slowest growing Canadian Hemlocks and it has handsome dark green foliage that forms a dense, bun.  This evergreen is a great choice for a partially shaded alpine garden or container.


An ancient 'Hokkaido' at the Berry Botanic Garden
We also have two wonderful dwarf Elms.  Tiny Ulmus parviflora ‘Hokkaido’ is a very slow growing dwarf Princess Elm with tiny foliage and a knobby, twisting trunk and branches that cause the whimsical among us believe it has an old soul.  The Dwarf Dutch Elm ‘Jaqueline Hillier’ is a favorite for bonsai because of its flexible branches that are easily shaped.  It also makes a delightful small tree in the garden where it will grow to 8 feet tall.

Visit our online mail order catalog to see the complete listing of Dwarf Conifers and Miniature available for shipping.  Additional choices in larger containers are available at the nursery.

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