“Evergreens don’t combine nicely with hardwoods, good-looking although they’re in avenues or in solitary splendor. Neither ought to they be noticed at hazard on a garden. They’re greatest grouped with their very own type, and never too intently.”

— Eleanor Perenyi, “Inexperienced Ideas: A Author within the Backyard,” 1981

Tucked in between chapters on Earthworms, Endive and Failures, Eleanor Perenyi delivered her ideas about Evergreens, which she succinctly categorized as both conifers or “fleshy leaved varieties like mountain laurel.” (Botanists arrange evergreens into conifers, tropical hardwoods, temperate broad-leaved bushes and palms.)

Perenyi apparently harbored some ambivalence about the usage of evergreens in landscaping, a pattern for which she held the Victorians accountable as “an error of style that has been perpetuated” ever since.

It wasn’t that Perenyi didn’t discover evergreens stunning. She did, though she objected to entrance yards dotted haphazardly with conifers formed like Christmas bushes. She complained, “This conical picture endlessly printed on the retina makes me sigh for an oak, and I typically assume the nation will smother in spruce and fir, arborvitae and hemlock.”

The customized of shopping for residing Christmas bushes and subsequently planting them within the yard was deplorable by Perenyi’s requirements as a result of they merely add to the “extra of evergreens already on the scene.”

I’ll confess that I participated in that “deplorable” customized a number of years in the past, lazily opting to purchase a potted Christmas tree already festooned with pink ribbons and a star hooked up to the highest department. On New 12 months’s Day, I ceremoniously planted the tree within the yard, the place it grew to 12 toes tall in a number of years. I ended up having to chop the tree down as a result of it was casting an excessive amount of shade on different vegetation.

That’s one other drawback Perenyi famous with planting evergreens, conifers particularly: Folks can’t appear to ascertain how giant the bushes will grow to be in a number of years and, invariably, they plant them too intently collectively. Not solely do crowded conifers solid a depressing shadow over the panorama, however additionally they develop lopsided with naked branches which were disadvantaged of daylight.

Right here once more, I need to admit I’ve made this actual mistake. Ten years in the past, we planted a Colorado blue spruce ‘Fats Albert,’ which plant nurseries guarantee is the perfect conifer for small gardens as a result of it grows solely 15 toes tall. I’ve discovered that’s true, however I will need to have neglected the truth that my ‘Fats Albert’ additionally grows about 15 toes extensive. Its branches have now groped their approach into the photinia hedge, and I dare not take away the photinia for concern of showing the conifer’s sparse foliage on that facet.

Regardless of all of the evergreen excesses and potential planting blunders, Perenyi acknowledged {that a} “garden with out evergreens is a wasteland in winter.”

After final Sunday’s column by which I mentioned Perenyi’s opinions about climate forecasts and forecasters, I used to be delighted to obtain an e mail from a good friend of Perenyi’s in Stonington, Connecticut, the place Perenyi lived and gardened for a few years. Charlie wrote that Eleanor “hated the warmth and adored winter,” which might be why she remarked within the Evergreen chapter that American gardeners ought to pay extra consideration to winter aesthetics.

Nonetheless, Perenyi was not shy about sharing her personal evergreen planting blunders. She described how she interspersed a weeping white pine (Pinus strobus ‘Pendula’), a hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa), two Japanese yews (Taxus cuspidata) and three Tanyosho pines (Pinus densiflora) with deciduous plantings in her garden. The mix ought to have labored, she stated, however failed to take action as a result of as soon as the snow coated the panorama, the evergreens had been too broadly dispersed to make an influence.

Perenyi admitted she held a bias towards blue-needled spruces. I, however, select to consider my solitary blue spruce, nestled on the juncture of the aforementioned photinia hedge on one facet and a laurel hedge on the opposite, successfully breaks up all of the greenery with its contrasting blue-gray foliage.

In summer season, the spruce’s blue-gray palette is picked up by herbaceous perennials with complementary flowers or foliage interspersed all through the garden. These embody sea holly (Eryngium planum), globe thistle (Echinops spp.), lambs-ear (Stachys byzantine), artemisia ‘Powis Fortress’ and blue fescue (Festuca glauca).

In fact, magnificence is within the eye of the beholder. Perenyi defended her personal plant prejudices by writing, “A garden is a personal world, or it’s nothing, and the gardener have to be allowed his vagaries.” So true!

Perenyi didn’t care for the look of evergreens mixed with hardwood bushes. I’m wondering if she had an opportunity to go to the combined evergreen forests alongside the Oregon and California coasts. The towering Douglas firs, Sitka spruces, western hemlocks and false cedars on our land in Bandon have fashioned a group with evergreen Oregon myrtles and Pacific rhododendrons, in addition to deciduous pink alders, Pacific willows and tan-bark oaks.

For my part, the mixture of contrasting textures and shades of inexperienced among the many conifers and different evergreen and deciduous bushes and shrubs has a satisfying impact. The leaves on the alders flip gold within the fall, which I discover significantly stunning intermingled with the evergreens.

I’m anxious concerning the well being of my Port Orford cedars (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana), an Oregon native conifer that’s not a real cedar however a member of the cypress household. Up to now few years, we’ve misplaced a number of POCs to a rampant fungal illness referred to as Phytophthora lateralis. It’s believed the fungus was introduced into america on nursery inventory shipped from japanese Asia; in return, we’ve shipped POC nursery inventory contaminated with the fungal illness to Europe.

Phytophthora lateralis is transmitted from tree to tree by spores dispersed within the air and thru floor water, the latter of which is especially troubling to me as a result of our property is sloped. The fungus is so pervasive that we’d lose 90% of our POCs.

I used to be unfamiliar with Port Orford cedars earlier than we purchased our land in Bandon, however now confronted with the prospect of shedding all of them, I’ve by no means appreciated evergreens as a lot as I respect our vanishing POCs.

Jackson County Grasp Gardeners acknowledged

I used to be thrilled to be taught lately that my Grasp Gardener mentor, Jane Moyer, was acknowledged by the Oregon State College Extension Service because the 2021-22 Statewide Grasp Gardener of the 12 months.

Throughout her 17 years as a Grasp Gardener in Jackson County, Jane has volunteered 10,000 hours of her time and experience in rising vegetation and rising gardeners. I can’t consider anybody so richly deserving of the award. For extra about Jane’s work with the MG program, see my article “Dust Grasp” (March 27, 2022).

Lynn Kunstman was acknowledged as Jackson County Grasp Gardener of the 12 months. Lynn shares her intensive data of gardening on the “Jefferson Alternate” radio present and thru the Grasp Gardener’s group teaching programs. She based the Native Plant Nursery at Southern Oregon Analysis & Extension Heart in Central Level and was instrumental in elevating funds for a rain catchment system on the SOREC campus.

Rhonda Nowak is a Rogue Valley gardener, instructor and author. For extra on gardening subjects, see literarygardener.com or e mail Rhonda at Rnowak39@gmail.com.

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