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Plant of the month October 2017

Conifers come in a vast range of colours and many change shade during the year. Careful choice can give you a great splash of colour in autumn and winter when most other plants are dormant.

Conifers plant of the month 2011

See all the conifers listed in Shoot here.

Shape and form
Because they are evergreen (i.e. do not lose their leaves) often with strong shapes, conifers are perfect for bringing shape, height and form to your garden. Use them to:

  • Act as a backdrop to perennials, bulbs and annuals
  • Form a stand-alone feature in the garden
  • Give height to borders
  • Form wonderful frost or snow covered shapes in the winter garden

The wide variety of shapes and sizes makes them hugely useful in all parts of the garden, but make sure you choose the right one for the job!  Ultimate heights and spreads should be taken into consideration as some conifers can grow very large.

Once you know where you want to add your conifer in the garden, you need to the choose the right type, whether it be for structure, style or as a focal point. Look at the headings below and get some useful information to get you started.

Columnar - tall and narrow, cylindrical
These are great used in a shrub border to give extra height, at the end of a vista or as a feature set in the lawn. Examples include:

Pyramidal - pyramid shape, narrow at the top, wide at the bottom
These can make a stunning feature in the middle of a large lawn, or they can be used to hide unsightly features. Examples include:

Globose - spherical, bun shaped
These conifers look amazing as punctuation points at the apex of a border, on either side of entrances, or giving strong shape in a border of daintier perennials. Examples include:

Prostrate - low and sprawling
These are perfect for softening the edges of borders or paths, cascading over low walls or at the edge of steps. Also use them to cover manholes, old tree stumps or even the edge of your pond liner. Good weed-suppressers. Examples include:

Dwarf - tiny conifers which reach a height of three feet at most
These are brilliant in containers and rockeries and provide year-round interest. Examples include:

Interesting colour
Apart from the whole palette of different blues, greens, golds, greys and bronzes which conifers include, there are some which change colour as the year goes on. Examples include:

Conifers can be planted as specimens, ground cover and in combination with heathers, ornamental grasses and herbaceous perennials.