Every Blooming Thing: Evergreens become dominant during stark season
As I look around my landscape after two weeks of hard frosts and freezes, I am grateful for my evergreens.
They are the real workhorses of the garden, the survivors that become center stage during the winter. They retain their shape and texture and provide interest during a stark season.
Evergreen trees, shrubs and plants keep their needles and foliage all year. Combined with deciduous trees and shrubs that provide what is called "bare bones" since they lose their leaves in the fall, the evergreens now become dominant. They are the focus of your landscape.
Evergreens are grown in a vast range of varieties, shapes and sizes — from huge trees to ground covers. They include conifers, holly, camellias, daphne and boxwood among many others. Currently in my garden, the holly tree is full of rich, red berries and the daphne is in bud and the camellias are blooming.
Noteworthy ground covers suited to our valley floor are the dwarf mondo grasses. Mine are in black, which complement the soft grays of "Snow in Summer" and "Pussy Toes." This dark color also enhances the yellow "Angelina" sedum and the green "Elfin" thyme. My other mondo grass is "Silver Mist," a white variegated form which blends well with any plant. Both also grow well in pots.
Ligularias are technically considered perennials but they act like evergreens in my yard. They are known for their large structural leaves. I have two varieties: one with bluish-green deeply ruffled leaves and the other with heart-shaped yellow spotted leaves. They tend to grow in spreading clumps and definitely make a statement in a garden bed.
When most people think about conifers, they think of large trees such as cedar and spruce. These trees are beautiful but require a large area to grow. When space is an issue, there are many varieties of dwarf conifers and they are becoming much more popular and available. Some good examples are a pyramidal dwarf Alberta spruce, golden Eastern arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis "Sunkist") and picea orientalis "Nana" or "Tom Thumb." Some afternoon protection might be required.
Another must-have evergreen is euonymus. I have two in my garden. One is a 4-foot shrub with variegated leaves in yellow and green, and another variety that is variegated in dark blue-green with creamy white edging which I have in a small pot on the patio. They are very hardy in our area and are tolerant of different soils, water needs and exposure.
So to sum it up, despite the hard frosts of winter, you, too, can have some great evergreen frosted friends that will not only stand out but provide warmth and interest to your garden. Shop at your local nurseries and you can find these special treasures to take home to your garden.
The Red Bluff Garden Club's January meeting will be held on Tuesday. The social begins at 12:30 p.m. and the program at 1 p.m. This month's program presenter is Chris Moats, who will speak on seeds and veggies.
Cathy Wilson is a member of the Red Bluff Garden Club, which is affiliated with Cascade District Garden Club; California Garden Clubs, Inc; Pacific Region Garden Clubs and National Garden Clubs Inc.