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Some Evergreen Shrubs

Mahonia repens (Creeping Mahonia) I can never over-emphasize the importance of evergreen shrubs in the garden. Otherwise, you have nothing to look at during the winter months. Here are a few of my favorites. Talk about a carefree plant! The PNW native  Mahonia repens (Creeping Mahonia or Creeping Oregon Grape) requires nothing special and will even tolerate drought after it is established. I tend to think of this plant more as a groundcover but after many years (six to be exact - it was planted in April of 2017) it is beginning to look more like a low-growing shrub. The height is less than 2 feet tall. Growth tends to be more horizontal and it has spread 3-4 feet. Not a fast grower. Sun or part-shade. The leaves are an attractive blue-green and they become tinged with red and purple when the weather is cooler.  Flowers have been sporadic but every year they increase. It usually blooms around April - The flowers are then followed (around July) by the berries or "grapes" - Os

Plants of Interest for Winter - Conifers

Lodgepole Pine 'Chief Joseph' (Pinus contorta var. latifolia).
Michael made the column and I just love it.

Winter approaches (that's right - it isn't here officially until the 21st) but weather-wise, it has been very winter-ish. The temperature has barely been above 40 for the past several weeks and we got an early snow yesterday. I like it as long as I can be inside, comfy and cozy. I prefer the cloudy days as sunny ones make me feel guilty if I'm sitting at the computer and gazing out on a sunny landscape. I feel like I should be doing something out there

I've filled our garden with many conifers and evergreen plants for winter interest. They add so much.

The pathway along the front of the house. My window is to the right so
this is the view I have but from another angle. 

The White Pine (Pinus strobus 'Fastigiata') has grown so tall but the width remains narrow which is good. I do trim along the sides when it starts to get unruly which is rare.

A view from the opposite side

'Degroot's Spire' Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) is great for a tall and narrow accent. When it comes to arborvitae, it is so much better than the problematic 'Emerald Green' that is planted all over the place. However, its not as good as a screen. 

Blue Spanish Fir (Abies pinsapo 'Glauca'), so stalwart. 

From the street side - I hope it stops growing now but I know it
will not. It is very slow though.

Weeping Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum 'Pendulum') - I rarely photograph this because it is hard to get a shot without the surrounding obstacles. This is the tree that beckoned to me when moving here. So unusual, so Pacific Northwest.

The retaining wall along the driveway. 'Green Arrow' Alaskan Cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis) in the center, probably feeling crowded. Strawberry Tree (Arbutus), 'Hillside Creeper' pine at the base and an unknown conifer that was already here when we moved in. I've suspected that it might be the Lawson Cypress 'Treasure Island' although it is taller than most descriptions note.

A closer look at 'Hillside Creeper' (what a terrible name! A serial killer?) 
My hopes are that is tumbles down the wall.

Deodar Cedar 'Feelin' Blue' (Cedrus deodar) - proof positive not to listen to plant labels.
2 feet tall? Ha!

Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens 'Globosa')

Canadian Hemlock 'Emerald Fountain' (Tsuga canadensis 'Monler')

Columnar Norway Spruce (Picea abies 'Cuppressina')

Pinus paviflora 'Cleary'

Canadian Hemlock 'Golden Duchess' (Tsuga canadensis 'MonKinn') - I'd like to move this as it burns easily in the sun.

Spruce 'Skylands' (Picea orientalis)

'Swane's Golden' Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)

Upright Japanese Plum Yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia 'Fastigiata')

I hope you've enjoyed this conifer tour. Next I will do a post about the evergreen shrubs in the garden.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Conifers aren't as popular in my climate but I do appreciate them, especially those with gorgeous blue needles.

  2. Your conifer tour is splendid. Seeing all of these makes me wish I had many more in the garden. I love the serial killer creeping about. Ha.... The pedestal looks so handsome by that limey green tree. I am surprised you can leave the pedestal out during winter. What is it made of, it must be frost proof. ?

    1. Lisa, it is made of concrete and sealed with a concrete sealer. I'm hoping it is okay left out in the elements. Not true for terracotta which deteriorates quickly here if left out.

  3. I participated in a conifer plant study at Heronswood lead by (the amazing) Dr. Ross Bayton. Still, I am horrible at identifying them. I love any time when you feature conifers in a post and I'm fascinated by the large number your are able to grow.
    Kudos to Michale's for the cool column: it isn't easy to out shine 'Chief Joseph'!
    Weeping Sequoia is a marvel. (When they start growing in unexpected directions, they look like dinosaurs!).
    As for size marked on plant tags: I wonder if occasionally gremlins switch them around as a prank...

    1. Working at a garden center has really helped me with identification but I still have trouble.

  4. Conifers in general is a topic I feel I'm barely scratching the surface of. So many good ones to explore, so thanks for the tour!


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