Garden Clippings for Jan 5, 2024

For lack of a better term, they are called broadleaf evergreens.  Glossy green foliage, no needles, no cones, with foliage that remains on the plant all year round.

Broadleaved evergreens seem to defy horticultural logic, because they look like any other shrub. But when fall and winter arrive their leaves remain intact and ready to grow again in spring.

Our most common broadleaf evergreen is Boxwood, a tidy growing shrub in true green colour, with small leaves that are less than the size of a dime.  Boxwood is a favorite plant for home landscapes because it is easy to prune and often maintained as a dwarf hedge.

Boxwood’s claim to fame is that it is a well-behaved plant that grows anywhere, requires little attention, and until recently, has no insect or disease concerns.

Today, Boxwood faces an uncertain future.  Box Tree Moth, first detected outside Toronto 5 years ago, has recently been found in various locations throughout Southern Ontario.  Secondly, a fungus, Boxwood Blight, is raising concerns particularly among nursery growers in the Niagara region.  Time will tell if these pests have an impact for Ontario gardeners.

The success of broadleaf evergreens is very climate dependent.  In the Southern States, the list of broadleaf evergreens is long because winter is hardly an issue.  Southern Magnolia, with its large, smooth leathery leaves and delightful fragrant spring flowers grows easily in most areas of Southeastern USA, but apart for an odd specimen in Point Edward, will not grow in Ontario.

Rhododendrons, wildly popular in Britain and easy to grow in most of Europe, the Southeastern states and British Columbia are emerging in popularity in Southern Ontario.  Rhododendrons boast clusters of incredibly showy flowers in spring, followed by attractive evergreen foliage in summer, fall and through winter.  Give Rhododendrons a sheltered location, partial shade and rich, well-drained soil and they will grow comfortably in Southern Ontario.

Holly is an easily recognized plant with dark green pointed leaves, white flowers in spring, followed by red berries in fall and winter.  The slow growing attractive plant is ideally suited as an ornamental plant and is slowly emerging as a staple in home landscapes.  Hollies come in many varieties, with Blue Prince and Blue Princess remaining most popular.

Euonymus Gaiety, along with its many cousins in gold, green and variegated forms have been a popular landscape plant in the eighties and nineties.  But by the turn of the century, it has fallen out of favour, mostly due to Euonymus scale, a crawling insect that sucks juices from the plants’ foliage.

Other noteworthy broadleaf evergreens are Yuccas, with their long spiked foliage, Pieris, with its spring flowers and glossy colourful foliage, and English Ivy, an invasive plant that gardeners love to hate.