A low maintenance evergreen pot for winter
Head gardener Jenny Barnes creates a pot filled with evergreens – low maintenance and perfect for winter. Photographs by Richard Bloom
Conifers have rather fallen out of fashion in recent years, but they make up a hugely diverse group of plants. I have chosen a selection of conifers that showcase a range of colours, textures and habits. All are evergreen so will look good with little maintenance all year round, including through the difficult winter months. I love that the shrubs and trees can all be planted into the garden after you've enjoyed the container display, making this arrangement truly sustainable.
How to achieve the look
Container and composition
I found this rusty, cast-iron trough at my parents’ house while I was rummaging for a suitable container; it’s perfect for this display of conifers. You could find similar at local reclamation yards and the planting display can easily be scaled up or down to suit the size of your container. This trough is very deep, allowing lots of room for the rootballs of the bigger plants. I’ve tried to choose cultivars with different characteristics: Juniperus procumbens ‘Nana’ will form a mat, filling any gaps within the trough, whereas Juniperus x pfitzeriana ‘Old Gold’ provides a vertical element. I especially like how the rusty red colour of the trough accentuates the burnished tones of the foliage and stems of the Thuja occidentalis ‘Golden Tuffet’.
Cultivation and care
This particular trough doesn’t have any drainage holes in the base so I’ve added a thick layer of crocks and then pebbles to the bottom. Conifers prefer a slightly acidic soil, so I’ve incorporated an ericaceous compost along with a mature plant compost to provide maximum nutrition for the established plants. You could add acidic organic matter such as well-rotted pine needles instead. Once planted, conifers require little to no maintenance. Keep the trough damp, but not wet. Being containerised will restrict growth, but these plants are all too big to live in a pot forever and will need planting out once they become too big for your chosen container.
1 Thuja occidentalis ‘Golden Tuffet’ Golden yellow foliage turning bronze in winter. 60cm x 80cm. AGM. RHS H7, USDA 2a-7b.
2 Juniperus procumbens ‘Nana’ Needle- like foliage. 30cm x 75cm. AGM. RHS H7.
3 Juniperus chinensis ‘Blue Point’ Densely branched evergreen with blue-green foliage. 3.5m x 2.5m. RHS H4, USDA 4a-9b.
4 Juniperus x pfitzeriana ‘Old Gold’ Golden-yellow foliage. 50cm x 1.5m.
AGM. RHS H6, USDA 4a-9b.
5 Juniperus horizontalis ‘Golden Carpet’ Mat-forming conifer with acid-green foliage. 10cm x 1.5m. AGM. RHS H7, USDA 3a-9b.
6 Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Wisselii’ Evergreen with upright conical habit.
12m x 2.5m. AGM. RHS H6, USDA 5a-10b.
7 Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’ Forms neat mound of blue-grey foliage. 10cm x 50cm. AGM. RHS H7, USDA 4a-8b.
Jenny Barnes is head gardener at Cottesbrooke Estate and is leading the way on new techniques of rose pruning and training.
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