Garden Clippings for August 15, 2020
Evergreens are peaceful. No falling leaves. No naked branches in winter. No uncurling leaves in spring. No noises when the wind blows. No dramatic flowers or seeds. Just never-ending peace and tranquility.
Most of us like excitement in the garden. We plant flowers for colour, we plant trees that are bold and heavily textured. We rake autumn leaves and look forward to spring when trees bring forth bloom and foliage.
But spending time in a forest of evergreens or conifers gives a sense of unchanging stability and quiet solitude.
Conifers definitely have a leg up over deciduous trees. Conifers are true survivors because their abundant and efficient needles store more moisture than their leafy counterparts. Their moisture holding capacity serves them well during times of draught.
Evergreens are better at wind erosion, which is why farmers will often plant a row of cedars or Spruce to protect their topsoil.
Noise pollution is another area where conifers have a competitive edge. If my house were adjacent to a noisy highway or railway track, I would plant oodles of evergreens to minimize the decibels.
Our valuable environment breathes easy because of conifers’ fine needles that are exposed to much more air than deciduous leaves. The increased surface area makes for increased photosynthetic capacity and cleaner air.
Birds benefit from both deciduous and coniferous trees, but when it comes to providing shelter, conifers fit the bill. Particularly in winter, birds need the wind protection of conifers and safety from larger predators. Seeds within the cones are a valuable source of food.
If privacy is a concern, conifers are winners. Twelve years ago, my good neighbour Larry had the foresight to plant a row of Cedars along the property line, mostly to hide the neighbour’s construction materials. The Cedar hedgerow was a real estate plus for Cheryl and me, and now that we’ve moved in, we have plenty privacy. We get along with our neighbours famously, but we don’t necessarily want to feel obligated to chat when we are both in our backyards. The year-round privacy that conifers give saves money on window blinds.
Evergreens, in spite of their name are not really evergreens. Their leaves do indeed fall but will do so when it suits them rather than wait till winter. A conifer’s needles will fall as early as when they are three years old or as late as when they are ten years old. Fortunately, evergreens produce new needles in greater numbers than those that have fallen to the forest floor.
Evergreens have a shape that is opposite deciduous trees. They are broad at their base and rise to a tapered point in order to maximize their exposure to the sun. Conifers are also cleverly cone shaped in order to shed snow.