A Japanese inspired garden with evergreens. I love the little opening in the hedge, which shows the lake below but hides the house behind.
It is quite amusing to think about one of the most common wishes by the customers when I was doing garden consulting and design in Sweden. "Ingen barr! Jag hatar barrväxter! "No conifers! I hate them!" was often expressed with such a feeling, that I felt there was no point of starting to argue for them and their good qualities in the Swedish climate with a growing season of about 5 months and a long and relatively cold winter.
A sea of needles... genuine stuff from the 1960s in Clyde Hill near Seattle.
A well-kept garden from 1960s near Stockholm, in Sweden - soon to become a rarity? (Picture taken in winter).
This "allergy" for conifers is probably a reaction against many gardens made in Sweden in the 70's, full of Thujas and Junipers and now overgrown beyond any recognition of the original design. Of course, these gardens can (or could, as they are disappearing in fast pace as the new owners rip them rapidly out) be quite monotonous and static, with little to show the changing seasons. And they quite seldom can be described as romantic or sensuous, which is something that many of us expect from their gardens. But for the ease of management and year-around interest, there is few plants in the Northern climates that can beat these stalwarts of the winter garden.
A front border with conifers, Ericas, Rhubarb (!), ferns and grasses. A modern composition with good structure and year-around interest.
The nickname of Washington state, where Seattle is located, is "the Evergreen State", which is quite becoming when looking at the local gardens. Many of my previous customers would wince at the thought of square meter after square meter (or square feet...) of conifers, interspersed with other evergreens, as Rhododendrons (the state flower is Pink Rhododendron, Rhododendron macrophyllum), Pieris, Callunas and Ericas. The soil in Seattle is mostly acidic, which gives these plants excellent growing conditions.
Huge pine trees surrounded by native Salals and Rhododendrons.
Here as well as in Sweden, the garden styles have evolved since the 60's and 70's, from flowing, borders filled with evergreens. These gardens seem often been influenced by the Japanese (and maybe Chinese) gardens, which I found very appealing, as it complements the houses from this era quite well. In the best cases, the contemporary styles combine conifers with hardy perennials and grasses for an elegant and graceful effect. In the worst cases, rows of Thujas are used as impenetrable barriers for privacy or to stand in line by the driveway as unhappy soldiers. Just by doing a small round in the neighbourhood yesterday, I found several gardens with interesting use of evergreens and conifers. Some of these (as shown above) could probably be used as inspiration by gardeners in Scandinavia, some might just be a little bit too freakish for anything else than providing a little smile...
An example of cloud pruning? looks more like a bunch of green balloons...
These poor Junipers would clearly need a break - I wonder what kind of a family lives behind these tightly clipped conifers?