Wintertime is undoubtedly conifer season in many gardens all around the world.
These shapely and statuesque evergreens dominate the landscape in the colder climates where many of the trees and shrubs are dormant during the fall and winter months. Their significance and impact is further enhanced by the fact that cold weather intensifies the coloration of the foliage, often turning somewhat ordinary plants into eye catching features as the harshness of winter bites harder.
Formal gardens are increasing in popularity at the moment and conifers lend themselves to this style, as many of them can be used for hedges whilst others endure clipping into shapes and topiaries. As solitary garden specimens or stand-alone plants they are unsurpassed, growing with a natural, symmetrical shape. The key to growing healthy conifers is to ensure that they all have sufficient space in which to grow and develop without interference from surrounding structures or competing plants. Sunlight all around the plant and free air movement ensures that plants mature to a ripe old age. Most conifers attain their manageable garden proportions within ten years of growth, after which they can become large, disproportionate to the rest of the garden and generally untidy. Hence the mention of the two different sizes in the descriptions of each of the top ten. This is intended to make it easier to select the best conifers and plant them in the correct positions in your garden. Your local nursery or garden centre will supply you with more useful information about growing conifers in your area. Most conifers will grow in most climates in South Africa, from the seashore to the very coldest regions. Perhaps the only parts where they battle are the arid, semi-desert climatic zones where dry soils and scorching temperatures hamper their growth.
x Cupressocyparis leylandii is a large, upright-growing conifer of conical shape. Renowned for its rapid growth rate and dense foliage, it remains one of the most effective and popular subjects for hedges and screening purposes. Foliage is dull, grey-green all year round. It grows to approximately 10 m high in ten years and can attain an ultimate height of 25 to 30 m.