During my childhood years, evergreen trees were the living room centerpieces of holiday memories. Although a decorated tree still is part of our Christmas décor, I also like to use living evergreens at the front door. Because trees are not actively growing through the holidays, classic evergreens can stay in their growers’ pots for months before being planted. That is why they can provide a living presence when all other plants look dead or have died back to the ground. Especially inviting is that the number of evergreen varieties offers many decorating possibilities.
Deador Cedar is Prescott’s official centennial tree. This evergreen was a favorite of the pioneering families because it is so hardy. Many local specimens are the original trees from early settlers’ plantings; they stand more than 80 feet high and will live for another 100+ years. This cedar has no known insects to bother it, it naturalizes well, loves drip irrigation, wind and wide open spaces. With its big sweeping branches that beg to be decorated, it can be referred to as the Arizona Christmas tree. ($99)
This large cedar makes a striking focal point and specimen in parks and large gardens. Give it plenty of room to spread, as it surely will be the dominant feature in any landscape. Because of its size and fast growth it makes a superior privacy screen.
Single Leaf Pinion Pine, a select mountain variety, has bluer needles than its native cousin. It requires very little water once it’s established. Because of its exceptional color, it is useful where a landscape design calls for a big, bold statement. ($69)
A perfect character tree in the front yard next to the driveway, mature sizes already stand four feet tall. Its strong branches easily accommodate large ornaments, and because it can support bird feeders it can become a sanctuary for feeding birds. Like other pinion pines, it will produce edible tasty nuts at about 15 years of age.
Vanderwolf Pine is a distinctive, pyramid-shaped pine with long, twisted, silvery blue needles layered on dense branches. It is a superior selection for a lawn specimen or accent. It resists both insects and disease better than other evergreens. ($59)
This pine produces fluffy foliage that, from a distance, resembles a cedar tree. Used in windbreaks and to define property lines and driveways, it adapts well to dry conditions in semi-desert and mountain foothill regions where soils are thin and poor. It makes a graceful single specimen in a front yard, a park or expansive estate-sized landscape.
Blue Wonder Alberta Spruce has such striking blue green foliage that it is a guaranteed standout in any garden! It’s perfect in containers framing a doorway or planted in odd number groupings in the landscape. ($17)
This dwarf variety sparkles when decorated with white lights. The perfect conical shape lends itself to formal gardens and holds its own as a showpiece in small container gardens. Use a pair to flank a fountain, entry, gateway or classical sculpture.
Green Austrian Pine has the deepest green of any pine and is densely covered with five-inch long needles. Think of this tree as a miniature ponderosa pine that holds its needles all the way to the ground. Its unique open form creates a striking specimen. A very resilient pine, it is a good selection for poor mountain soils. ($39)
Remarkably tolerant of hot and cold wind, it is the preferred choice as a windbreak for mountain top landscapes. By pine standards, it is fast growing and thick enough to screen any hot tub party.
There are two great ways to get in touch with me if you need to talk. I check my Facebook page at least twice a day. If you need more clarity on a gardening issue or just want to say hello, please join the 1,675 other local fans at www.facebook.com/watters1815. Face-to-face communication is better and, as winter is a garden center’s “slow season,” it’s the ideal time for some one-on-one exchanging of ideas and questions. Local gardeners often “just happen” to stop by the center to chat with my staff and me. It’s good to talk gardening when there’s little to do in the soil.
Until next month, I’ll see you at the garden center. QCBN
Throughout the week, Ken Lain, the mountain gardener, is at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Road, Prescott, and can be contacted through his website at www.wattersonline.com. Ken says, “My personal mission is to help local homeowners garden better in our mountain landscapes.”