Plants that keep their foliage year-round are the current stars of the landscape! They create an unfailing backbone that frames spaces when all other flowers and leaves have fallen. There are still some berries and colorful stems that provide interest, but evergreen plants are the foundation in the landscape.
Norway Spruce (Picea abies) has dark green needles that adorn sweeping branches. The tree can handle shady conditions that make most evergreens thin and sparse. These are grown as Christmas trees in some regions because of their ability to hold onto their needles long after they have been cut. The similar colored, but shorter needled Oriental Spruce (Picea orientalis), will quickly drop their needles when cut!
Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) is a fast growing, sun loving evergreen tree with varying shades of green to yellow, depending on the cultivar. ‘Radicans’ has a blue green hue that holds its color well through winter. ‘Yoshino’ tends toward the yellow green spectrum and obtains a bronze hue as winter progresses. New growth on ‘Sekkan-Sugi’ emerges as brilliant white gold, before turning yellow, then green.
Green Giant Arborvitae (Thuja x ‘Green Giant’) has layers of elongated, flat, frond-like needles that give the plant a lacy texture. This fast-growing evergreen has the benefit of a tall but narrow growth habit and can handle wetter soil conditions. Cut branches stuck into potting soil have the potential to develop roots by late spring, allowing you to add more plants in your landscape, or gift to friends.
All three of these evergreen trees have features that make them resistant to deer browsing. Although they are not native to the eastern United States, they do provide protective cover for many of our songbirds. These trees make excellent screens and solid structure in the landscape, while providing you with a local source for sustainably harvested boughs when decorating during the holidays!