Conifers are trees and shrubs that adapt to all climates and which, for the most part, have evergreen foliage. Their wide variety and easy maintenance offer many possibilities to take full advantage of them in the garden.

The conifers are easy-going plants that require little maintenance. These trees and shrubs have existed since the dawn of time and are present on all continents. In the garden it is possible to enjoy the many varieties of conifers. Here’s everything you need to know about these trees and shrubs.

Origin of conifers

Conifers are plants that are appeared on Earth 300 million years ago. These trees and shrubs have the ability to adapt to almost any climatic condition. This is why they are present in various regions of the world. Today there is 650 species of conifers. They come in many colors and can measure up to 100 meters in height. Conifers are also the plants that have a longer lifespan.

Conifers are woody plants : they produce a large quantity of lignins which make them particularly strong, rigid, waterproof and resistant to decomposition plants. The fruits of conifers are shaped like cones, hence their name. Their leaves are long and very thin: they are called needles.

Why don’t conifers lose their needles?

Most conifers have a evergreen. When water is scarce, especially in winter with frost, the trees protect themselves by losing their leaves. They therefore consume much less water. Conifers have needles, these leaves require little water and are very hardy. They are protected by the layer of wax that covers them.

What are softwood trees?

Conifers are trees and shrubs divided into several families:

  • The Araucariaceae whose best known tree is the Araucaria. The latter is also called the monkey despair because, because of its pointed leaves, it is difficult to climb. This ornamental conifer is very popular in gardens and has evergreen foliage.
  • The Cephalotaxaceae are little known. It is the family of Japanese cowtail pine, a dense, columnar conifer.
  • The Cupressaceae are a very well-known family of conifers since they are present in our gardens. Among its members, there is the cedar used to make hedges, the cypress and juniper.
  • The Ginkgoaceae whose best known member is Ginkgo biloba. This conifer is distinguished from others by its deciduous foliage which changes color with the seasons.
  • The Pinaceae gather the firs, pines and spruces. It is the most famous family.
  • The Taxaceae are the common yew family.
  • The Taxodiaceae are the redwood family.

Choose your conifer according to use

In hedge

Traditionally, hedges are planted with cypress or cedars. These two species have the advantage of being dense, persistent and grow fast. They are ideal plants to quickly obtain a green hedge all year round. On the other hand, it will be necessary to provide regular sizes. If your hedge is tall, the work will be substantial! You can then bet on a mixed hedge associating these same conifers with other persistent shrubs, requiring less maintenance.

In isolated tree

The tallest tree in the world is a conifer: a common redwood. Among the conifers there are many species with a certain presence. They are ideal isolated, in order to deploy their beautiful silhouette. The cedars are among those trees with an architectural and remarkable port. the Cedrus libani has a spreading habit, it stands proud in the garden, taking on bluish hues for the ‘Glauca’ variety.

In alignment

Some softwoods have an erect, columnar silhouette. This is the case of Juniperus communis ‘Sentinel’, from Thuja occidentalis or Tuscan cypress. These trees are perfectly suited to planting in rows. For structure the garden or to flank a driveway, there is nothing better. If the house is at the end of a path, these tall trees indicate the way and welcome guests. In addition, they blend wonderfully with Mediterranean flora, reminiscent of Italian gardens.

In grove

Softwoods have a charm which belongs only to them. Their needles, their woody smell, their grey, brown or red bark… In groves, conifers grow in size. The pines evoke the Landes, the firs and the spruces reminds me of the mountains. If it snows, they form the perfect backdrop for the holiday season.

Massive

All conifers are not huge subjects, some are even creeping! Indeed, the juniper is often planted as a ground cover. Depending on the variety, the needles are more or less green, bluish or golden. There are also varieties of fir or dwarf pine for massive. Some even find a place in a pot or planter.

In topiary

The yewpines, cypresses and podocarpus are conifers particularly suitable for pruning. Depending on the tree chosen, you can prune them into a ball, a pyramid or even clouds, like a Japanese garden.

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