Q&A: Planting small conifers

Dwarf conifer
Dwarf conifer
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Q: We have just dug out an old rock garden and would like to replant it with small conifers. There is not much space. Can you suggest varieties that will fit the bill?

A. Dwarf conifers have lost their appeal over the last decade or so, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth growing – in the right place, of course.

The majority are relatively easy to maintain. However, the best can be a bit on the expensive side.

Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’ is a low-grower with foliage of silver-blue, needle-shaped leaves. It growsvery slowly and should eventually achieve a height of perhaps two feet and the same in spread.

If it’s yellow you are after, consider the dwarf cypress, Chamaecyparis obtuse ‘Nana Aurea’, whose fan-shaped foliage is pure gold. Again, it’s a slow-grower and rarely tops more than two feet in height although it can spread to twice that in width.

For something slightly larger and very green, there’s a form of Cedar of Lebanon – Cedrus libani ‘Sargentii’. It has lovely, long weeping branches. It may eventually reach a height of eight feet but it stays relatively slim.

Just one more – Pinus heldreichii ‘Schmidtii’, a slow-growing dwarf pine 
which forms a little conical green mound just 30ins high.