To everything there is a season (and an appropriate choice of foliage)

“Tag, you’re it. A wonderful young man disguised as a grumpy teenager it headed your way,” was the text I sent my daughter as my son’s plane took off. Christopher was headed to Kansas State University to spend the weekend with Mary. I know under the façade of the “Mom, leave me alone” teenager is a well-mannered gentleman. While trying to enjoy this season of our lives, I am looking forward to the next.

The season of fall will soon give way to winter. Evergreens are the backbone of our landscaping from late fall through early spring. Although frequently maligned, evergreens are the plants that provide shelter for the birds, add color to our bleak winter landscape and provide a bit of screening between neighbors. This column will highlight a variety of evergreen shrubs, categorized by type.

Broadleaf Evergreens – These are not your typical evergreen plants. These are characterized by flat, roundish leaves that are often glossy.

Chicagoland Green® Boxwood (Buxus ‘Glencoe) – This is an excellent broadleaf evergreen Boxwood for our area. It has superior color retention throughout the winter. Its compact growth makes it an excellent choice. It has dark green, glossy foliage. It is rabbit resistant and does best in full sun to part shade. Grows 3’ tall.

Green Mountain Boxwood (Buxus x ‘Green Mountain’) – This is an upright, pyramidal form. It has dark green glossy foliage. It is rabbit resistant. Does best in full sun to part shade and grows to about 3 1/2-4 1/2’ tall.

Emerald Gaiety Euonymus (Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’) – This is a very adaptable groundcover or low shrub. The foliage is green with a bright white edge. Grows to about 3’ wide and 2-3’ tall. It has a very irregular shape is left to grow naturally but does respond well to pruning.

Blondy Euonymus  (Euonymus fortunei ‘Interbolwji’) – This is a very adaptable groundcover or low shrub. The clear yellow foliage has green margins with bright yellow stems. It grows to about 18-24” tall and wide.

Evergreens shrubs – This includes the more traditional type of evergreens. These shrubs have either flat, soft or needled evergreen leaves.

Golden Mops(Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Filifera Aurea Nana’ ) – This is an unusual plant with pendulous, thin, golden, whip-like leaves and branches. It grows into a haystack-like mound that has a soft look and feel that is often missing from other conifers. It does best in full sun to part shade. It prefers moist and well-drained soil.  Grows 2-3’ tall and wide.

Good Vibrations® Juniper (Juniperus horizontalis ‘Hegedus’)-  This is a soft-textured evergreen with chartreuse foliage in spring that changes to a bright yellow in the summer and then to orange hues in fall. Drought tolerant and deer resistant. Grows 12-18” tall and 6-7’ wide.  Does best in full sun.

Blue Forest Juniper (Juniperus sabina ‘Blue Forest’) – The short blue foliage on this groundcover shrubs is held upright like a forest of little Spruce trees. It grows 8-12” tall and 3’ wide in full sun.

Dwarf Alberta Spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’) – The foliage is very dense and does not require pruning. This is one of the most popular pyramidal evergreen shrubs. It often does well in winter containers. It is slow growing but can reach 5-6’ tall and 3’ wide.

Dwarf Mugho Pine (Pinus mugo ‘Slowmound’) – This is truly a dwarf mugho pine. Its dense compact form has wonderful dark green needles. Grows 18-24” tall and wide. Great rounded habit.

Pyrimidal Yew (Taxus cuspidata ‘Fastigiata’) This shrub has a uniform habit and is more resistant to winter burn that other evergreen shrubs. It tolerates shade and is considered one of the best needled evergreens for shady conditions. It can grow to 8-10’ tall and 6’ wide, but is easily pruned. It is rabbit resistant.

Birds Nest Spruce (Picea abies Nidiformis’) – This versatile, dwarf form is an excellent evergreen to be used for border, accent or container. The outward-curving branches give a bird’s nest effect. Its tight, compact shape requires little maintenance. It is very hardy and wind resistant. It grows to about 3’ tall and 4’ wide.

Fire Chief™ Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Congabe’) – This global arborbitae has bright orange foliage in spring with deeper red tones in the fall. Grows 3 1/2’ tall and wide.

Highlights Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Janed Gold’) – This is an exceptional new variety with intense, yellow-gold foliage. It is a standout among other varieties, as it holds its bright color year-round, even through winter. It thrives in summer heat without burning, if watered regularly. The tight, upright pyramidal form becomes conical with age. Excellent garden specimen or hedging shrub. Grows about 10’ tall.

Kathleen Carr is the owner of The Growing Scene, Inc., a garden center and landscaping company. She can be reached by calling 815-923-7322 or Have a gardening question? Please contact her. She may address it in an upcoming column.

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