Lisa’s Top 6 Evergreens for Small Spaces

by Susan Harris
I was able to catch Lisa Winters giving her Winter Workshop talk on gardening in small spaces and got lots of ideas from her – enough for several blog stories.   First up, her picks for evergreen trees that will stay small – something that many of us have learned the hard way is a rarity in the tree world.   What usually happens is that we pick the wrong plant for near the house especially and it leads to all sorts of problems – from storm damage to constant pruning to having to remove them because no pruning in the world will turn a gorilla into a small, well behaved dog.

From left, Dwarf Hinoki Cypress and 'Emerald Green' Arborvitae

A Dwarf Hinoki Cypress like the one shown above happens to be the newest focal point in my small front garden, and not because it’s new but because after 8 years it’s finally noticeable.   It grew really slowly for the first few years but at 10 feet, it now lives up to the prominent spot I gave it.

An even slower growing evergreen, these ‘Emerald Green’ Arborvitaes in my next-door neighbor’s garden haven’t grow noticeably in their six years in this spot.  The deer haven’t eaten them, either, though with deer you never say never.

English garden with 'Skyrocket' Juniper center right.

Another of Lisa’s favorites is the ‘Skyrocket’  Juniper (J. scopulorum), which you can see in this photo is the perfect accent in this small, plant-packed garden in England.

Cryptomerica Japonica 'Yoshino'

Now we come to one of my favorite conifers in the world – the Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) – and I’ll take the opportunity to show off the one I planted 10 years ago.  (Which I know only because I keep records.  Okay, they’re quick-and-dirty records, but the date of purchase is right there, along with the price.  This one cost me $40 for a 3-gallon container, and look at it now!)

Its needles are gorgeous up close and soft to the touch.  It grows quickly and in good health even a shady spot like this one, and it stays narrow (about 10 feet across) while growing to 30-40 feet.   This one is the ‘Yoshino’  variety, and it’s the ”Black Dragon’ variety that made Lisa’s list of the top six evergreens – because it tops out at just 12 feet with a width of just 6.

The last two I don’t have pictures for but can direct you photos, and lots of details.  They’re the ‘Dragon Lady’ Holly and a Magnolia grandiflora called the ‘Dwarf  Teddy Bear’ Magnolia.

Next up? Lisa’s Top 6 Deciduous Trees for Small Spaces, of course.

Cypress photo by Cliff 1066. English garden photo by Darkroom Daze.  Other photos by Susan Harris.