Conifer seminar

ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)January 14, 2012

I've been asked to do a few seminars on perennials and possibly one on conifers. The seminar on perennials is no problem, I've done them before. But I'm a little nervous about the conifer seminar. The only reason I am willing, is that there is no one here that is growing them and so many times when I mention the word conifer they look at me like I have 2 heads and ask what a conifer is. When I explain that they are pine trees, spruce trees etc. They are disinterested with the rest of my conversation. I need to spark some serious interest and see if I can not create another addict. SOOO, since gardeners often times like unique, I've been putting together a powerpoint of some of the more interesting photos I've taken of plants and a lot of photos on really pretty landscaping of conifers.

I want to explain that in ways, they are like perennials, most of them have 4 seasons color, spring new growth coloring, summer color, fall cones and winter color. Heck perennials only bloom for 2 to 4 weeks just like the spring flush on a conifer...and explain the pros...for perennials, you have left over ratty foliage...not so with conifers etc.

I'd like to explain what I believe will do well for our cold climate, how to acclimate them through their first few winters.

What other items should be covered and what do you believe makes a REALLY good seminar?

P.S. ya'll need to write more on the conifer forum. I did not even get to finish an entire cup of coffee reading through the minute number of new responses this morning. Now what am I going to do the rest of the day? :)

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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)

I think your presentation is good. Just enough to attract their interest.

Ignorance is bliss.

They know nothing and with the tools you have outlined above it should energize a few to become interested.

The photos will be key. Start out showing only the basic cultivars available in reasonable close proximity for them to purchase. Make sure they are zone tolerable. Keep it simple.

Next hit them with the hard core photos of what can be accomplished by careful planing by adding those more desirable cultivars that can be purchased through mail order as they build upon their venture.

Hopefully others will build upon my basic thoughts to help you critique your presentation.

Let us know how it goes.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 10:25AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Will you have access to an overhead screen projector?

Displaying pictures with the rainbow of colors conifers offer will convert the unlikely.

Conifers rival the most spectacular bloomers yet offer color during the winter.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 10:29AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I browsed your post too quickly...

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 10:30AM
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I like the order of presentation as outlined by dcsteg above. In fact, if you could show some shots of highly developed garden conifer plantings towards the end of your presentation, it's hard to imagine that nobody would come away inspired.

I'm on this board primarily due to interest in forest conifers, yet even I, when I see excellent garden conifer plantings am impressed by their unique beauty.

Pictures pictures pictures!


    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 11:29AM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

Dave, great information. I really do like the ideas on the succession of photographs. The only problem I'm going to run into is there are no places in ND that sell conifers except one large place and they sell 6' plants for hundreds.

Also, if my grafting works out I plan to give away some plants a prizes. Not sure how I will do that, perhaps ask a question and whoever answers it correctly give them a plant..or draw numbers. Not sure about that yet.

Whaas, I totally agree with you. Conifers do have 4 seasons of color. I will be putting photograph of a conifer garden in the fall and winter and photos of a perennial garden in fall and winter. Fall foliage for most perennial gardens is ugly. Also, I will address the pros of conifer gardens versus the backache work involved in removing all the dead foliage, the spent flowers, etc.

Tom, I think you are spot on. The more photos of lovely mature conifer gardens I can show the more I will peak interest.

You guys are the best. I'm so thankful I started posting here. Everyone is so nice.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 7:11PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Fall foliage for most perennial gardens is ugly.

That is the inherit issue with perennial gardens. I love perennials intermixed but for them to hold their own throughout the year...they just can't do it.

I googled conifer garden photos, I know how clever, and found a few interesting photos.

This photo is courtesy of Four Seasons Garden.

It sures makes me tremble viewing this pic. I could sit in the patch of grass for hours gazing at this beautiful tapestry.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 9:48PM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

jeeez whaas, that is amazing. All the red is what brings it together/makes it unique.


    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 7:16AM
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Cher(6 SW OH)

Looks like a crayola box. It's just a little too much for me, yet still beautiful. They must do some serious pruning there now to keep those all within the size needed. I'd like to know what some of those are.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 7:49AM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

Whaas, that is simply amazing. Who would ever think to paint ones garden solely with conifers, shrubs and tree. Beautiful! Too bad we are to cold to get some of those beautiful dissectum maples to grow in our gardens.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 7:53AM
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I'd like to see more pics about this garden. The pleasure of colors and textures...

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 3:15PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Check out the link below

Here is a link that might be useful: More!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 3:22PM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

Just curious if anyone made it through all 1,720 photos. HOLY catz they have a lot of photos uploaded for their gardens. All very beautiful.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 12:18AM
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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)

You would have to have a caretaker for sure.

There is more to that then meets the eye.

Beautiful and tastefully done.


    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 6:32AM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

Too bad they didn't have more room. It would require way less pruning, or shearing in this case. The cleanup would be never ending. So much for a low maintenance conifer garden!
I have plenty of room, but planted things fairly close together in some spots with the idea of moving them later. I just couldn't keep up with all of them, so had to remove or cut some down after they got too big to transplant. Not fun....and I'm still doing it!

Some people trashed the design on the Landscape Design forum. It's not my style for sure. Too spotty with no drifts and a complete lack of a sense of scale. Everything looks random and busy.

Most of the color is from Japanese Maples. They compliment any conifer garden where they can be grown. Also, the saturation level of color is too high. It gives a cartoon look to it.

Now that I trashed the garden, here's a look at part of mine that I could almost just as well trash.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 9:04PM
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Cher(6 SW OH)

Mike I would take your garden in a flat out minute, you add a little color to make things pop, which is how it should be. If this area is what you could trash then that's a good thing because it's lovely. I like the nice full look which means less work as we get older also.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 6:12AM
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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)

Mike I totally agree with your views with the exception of your own garden. I personally think it is well done and not over the top.

We as gardeners in the beginning tend to over do with to many plantings in a given area. I am guilty of that. Thinning out and scaling back are now the norm for me.

The garden setting supplied by whass is beautiful but a bit over the top. I don't need to explain's obvious. Who in their right mind would want to take care of that. Most of the conifers are those that are high maintenance with the need of shearing twice a year. The pungens candled pruned, then removed when not longer feasible. In time no matter how much time spent keeping in check most will have to be replaced.

Been around long enough to know how it is. Still a great job to bring this off with regard to design, color and balance only if that look is for a short time.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 8:26AM
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You guys say what you want but for me that is one of the most beautiful gardens for texture and color I have ever seen. I went to their website and read their story....pretty straight forward. I'm sure some of my details are off but.......

It's a UK couple that's been into gardening for years. Loved Acers and Azeleas. Started this one about 10 years ago when they moved. Back lot is basically 170 X 60. Fenced back with major tree rows down each side. Recently retired. They garden every day and love it. They built every bit of it by themselves including the two full size pagodas and the running waterfall / creek.

They pride themselves on it being a 4 season garden...thus the name. It's been named "best garden" and won several other awards. I say if they don't mind caring for it, then great. No-one can deny it is gorgeous. And I bet a lot of plain lawn loving folks would look at most of OUR gardens and say "Man is that way over the top or what".

All I can say is I'm analyzing several of their shots to see which of my favorite plant / color combinations I see and really like are usable in my climate......and I made it my screensaver.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 3:21PM
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WHAAAA..s . Too much for me too. This is everything except sophistication. Remove half the plants and it MIGHT just begin to look a bit more peaceful...cor! T.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 3:51PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I thought I throw it out there to show the potential for color and texture of conifers with other companion plants.

Either you love it or hate it (or both!)

I usually stay away from design comments as each person has a different sence of design that works around what they like and what they want to maintain.

At the end of the day as long as we are all planting conifers thats a win in my book!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 4:46PM
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Though I hate the perfectly pruned plants all crammed together, I love the picture for its use of color and textures to create uniformity.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 5:26PM
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Awesome and Stunning! It's not about the work. I too love the mix of conifers with maples.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 12:42PM
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Sara Malone Zone 9b

Adrian Bloom's book, Gardening with Conifers, is what got me hooked. I had never grown a single conifer before I read it and now I have hundreds. The photos in that book of large beds with the variety of color, texture, shape and size made me start ripping out perennials right and left. Now I have a winter garden that people come to visit because it looks even better in winter than it does in summer! I'm new to this forum so can't wait to read more. Thanks, all.

Here is a link that might be useful: Form and Foliage

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 10:03AM
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beigestonehill(z 6 /7VA)

Mr Bloom got me hooked also. After reading his book I tore out all my beautiful perennial beds and started my obsession with conifers. I am still a babe in the woods with conifers but I have never looked back. I just read (OK skimmed) A Blooms most recent book on perennials and I think he has gone in the opposite direction removing many of his conifers and planting perennials.Botann I like your conifer bed much more than that other one it is more peaceful and calm and that is what I love about conifers. With that said I got through about 30 pictures and all I can say is WOW!!! It is amazing the amout of time and love that went into those gardens they are not for me but I am in awe of what they have done. I love the picture of the bird footprints in the snow.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 11:20AM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

Is it only me or what...why is this post olive green? Interesting!

It is interesting to hear many of you state that you have ripped out your perennial beds and have not looked back. I hope once I get to the end, that I don't regret my decision either.

I do not have any conifer books but will keep Adrian Bloom's book in mind.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 7:42PM
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Sara Malone Zone 9b

Bloom's has great photos - you almost don't need to bother with the text, and his photos are all of his own garden. Another good one is 'Designing with Conifers' by Richard L. Bitner - his is more of an overview, and he has lots of photos from all over the place, but none are as compelling as the Bloom book. I don't think you'll regret your decision, and you can always stick perennials in here and there if you miss them. I assure you, you won't miss the work or the off-season!

Here is a link that might be useful: Form and Foliage

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 7:45PM
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