By Janit Calvo
“It’s so green!” said the lady beside me as we descended from the clouds. I was flying home from a stressful trip that day, seeing the green forest covering the landscape was a welcome sight. I politely told her that Washington is called the Evergreen State.
Three years later, as I drive along the I-90, on the way up and over the mountain pass, I’m reminded of that airplane conversation. The beautiful State of Washington is truly forever green.
Down in the foothills, the conifers are combined with freshly-budded deciduous trees, forming a refreshing green tapestry. I can just see their patterns appearing on wallpaper, or pressed on fabric for a trendy spring coat.
At the top of the pass, the deciduous trees are like skeletons, scattered amongst the majestic evergreens: cypress, arborvitae and spruce. It’s a veritable feast for the conifer lover.
What’s not to love about conifers? Conifers are trees that bear cones. They are also the oldest, largest and smallest of trees in world. And that’s what makes them ideal for miniature gardens.
I’m not a fussy person and I don’t care for anything that is high-maintenance—especially needy plants. For me, plants should be able to just grow on their own with minimum care. We’ve all heard the expression: “Right plant, right place.”
When planted in the ground, conifers are low-maintenance, needing no fertilizer and very little water after they’ve been established for a full year. Note in heat waves and droughts, they will need extra water to help them through it.
When planted in the container with good drainage, conifers don’t need fertilizer until a year or two later. A quick sprinkle of a time-release fertilizer will do the trick in the Spring to keep them looking their best year ‘round.
Evergreens are real troopers in the garden…unlike perennials or deciduous plants that get leggy or spindly and annuals that last for only one season.
Here are my favorites miniature conifers, they grow less than 1″ per year:
Jamy Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea ‘Jamy): It has wonderful limey-green needles spiraling out of the branches.
Blue Planet Miniature Spruce (Picea glauca ‘Blue Planet): A real charmer with tiny blue-green needles and a cute branching habit.
Go ahead and try a conifer in your miniature garden! They really make it easy to be green!