Conifers

The world would be very different without conifers, and so would our lives.

They cover vast swathes of the globe, from the permafrost of Siberia and Canada to the dripping subtropical swamplands of Louisiana. They provide 45 percent of our timber, and are even better than rainforests at capturing greenhouse gases. When you sip a gin and read a newspaper, one is flavoured with juniper berries and the other may be made from conifer pulp.

We at Lottaplants love conifers because they’re beautiful, but also for their sheer variety. A mature New Zealand pigmy pine, Lepidothamnus laxifolius, may be only eight centimetres high. The world’s tallest tree is a coast redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, that’s 115.7 metres tall.

The world’s oldest known tree is a conifer. A Great Basin bristlecone pine, Pinus longaeva, in California’s White Mountains, first sprouted over 5,060 years ago. And in Utah, a clonal colony of quaking aspen, Populus tremuloides, is the world’s oldest known organism. The individual trunks may not be particularly ancient, but the colony as a whole dates back some 80,000 years.

What is a conifer?
Most conifers are trees; some are shrubs. Most are evergreen with needle-shaped leaves. The one thing all have in common is cones containing their reproductive structures: the female cones contain the seeds, and the male ones, which are less prominent, hold the pollen.

The needles are one of the reasons conifers are so well adapted to climatic extremes. Their narrow shape reduces evaporation during droughts and prevents wind and snow damage, and their toughness makes them less palatable to insects. This is one reason for the growing popularity of conifers.

How can you use them?
No garden is complete without conifers. Most are evergreen, adding colour and structure even in the depths of winter. A conifer hedge provides a uniform and contrasting backdrop for flowering borders and/or an instant privacy screen, and many dwarf conifers make wonderful ground cover. Some conifers thrive in blazing sunshine, others in deep shade, and others still are happy with either. Some are fast growing and will fill a space quickly, while others are in no particular hurry to assert themselves.

We can’t supply you with a Californian redwood or a 5,000-year-old bristlecone pine, but we do have a huge selection of conifers for sale. We offer many genuses, including Abies, Picea and Pinus and 170 other species and cultivars. Our conifers include such unusual delights as Pinus densiflora ‘Oculus Draconis’, whose bands of yellow and green are said to resemble the eye of a dragon; and Picea orientalis ‘Skylands’, with its amazing contrast of golden outer needles and deep green interior foliage.
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