By Evelyn Alemanni
In most parts of the country, landscaping with evergreens means using conifers — for example spruce, hemlock, juniper, cypress, and cedar. Think in terms of your Christmas tree. These lemon cypress trees (Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Goldcrest’) started out as 5-in-tall holiday decor.
Here in Southern California the definition of an evergreen — a plant that has leaves throughout the year and stays green — encompasses a broad selection of trees and shrubs. These include palm trees (Arecaceae spp.), bottlebrush trees (Callistemon spp.), olive trees (Olea europaea), ficus (Ficus benjamina), and California live oaks (Quercus agrifolia).
Evergreen shrubs include Pride of Madeira (Echium spp.), viburnum, Eugenia, New Zealand tea tree (Leptospermum scoparium), oleander (Nerium oleander), and many more.
Even mandevilla is evergreen and can be grown on trellises and fences.
Conifers offer amazing benefits to Southern California gardeners. Most important, they “drink responsibly” once established. If you’re into minimal maintenance, these are the plants for you. Conifers also offer year-round interest, color, and texture. Not only that, but many tolerate poor soil (although you can’t go wrong with a topdressing of compost). Most thrive in full to partial sun.
Evergreens are tops for flexibility. They perform well in large pots, and when planted in the ground, their deep roots don’t damage nearby paving. I love that conifers are available in many shades of green, ranging from gold and chartreuse to light and dark green to nearly blue. All these choices let you create amazing low-maintenance garden interest.
For flexibility, attractiveness, low maintenance, and hardiness, evergreens are top choices for your garden.