Three distinctive conifers

Matt Pottage, Deputy Curator at RHS Garden Wisley, unveils some characterful conifers to try in your garden

Taxus baccata 'Amersfoort'Taxus baccata ‘Amersfoort’

A slow growing and easy to maintain conifer that looks a million miles from the typical species we associate with hedges and topiary.

'Amersfoort' can be gently shaped with light pruning or left to grow into a shrub which is often quite open in habit, allowing a climber companion to be added or simply allowing views through.

Works well as a small informal hedge or dotted through a border with an underplanting of herbaceous plants to add height and structure.

Thuja plicata 'Whipcord'Thuja plicata ‘Whipcord’ AGM

A conifer with real character, 'Whipcord' has thread-like foliage which can be left to form mounds of mossy-looking hummocks, performing best in full sun.

However, it can also be bought ‘top grafted’ as a standard to enable it to cascade into a more prominent feature. 

At Wisley we have included these in our Winter Walk, where they are grafted onto a 30cm (12in) stem, and white Rubus stems scramble around their base along with variegated Euonymus.

Xanthocyparis nootkatensis 'Green Arrow'Xanthocyparis nootkatensis ‘Green Arrow’ AGM

Ultimately a tall conifer, but remaining very slender in habit, this cultivar does exactly as the name suggests.

A great alternative to a pencil cypress for a cold garden, it is also good at resisting winds in more open positions. A strong, upright, leader always remains skywards; however the side branches are very pendant which bring about real character.

Plant closely as a group, or plant one on its own to create a rocket of year-round interest.

Caring for your conifers

For more on pruning, training or propagating conifers, have a look at our advice pages.

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