Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Considering Conifers December 3, 2008

I have been thinking of replacing the sad and spindly previous-owner crabapple trees in my parking strip, and although I haven’t gotten around to it yet, it’s fun to peruse the options and take suggestions (thanks, previous commenters!) on what to get. A particularly lovely Japanese maple is high on the list for one of the spots, but I was wondering if a dwarf conifer ought be in the running for the other. Something that keeps its needles on in the winter, for critters to take shelter under, and to look purty when the snow (rarely) falls on it…

At the garden center the other day, I dawdled in the conifer section as I so rarely do, and there I found some beauties that I’d never seen (at least in person) before.

Wilma Goldcrest Monterey Cypress

OK, one golden cypress would probably look pretty silly out there, but all wee and cute and massed together, they were a sweet sight with the sun glowing through them.

Snake Branch Spruce

I want a Snake Branch Spruce just for the name alone! But it gets too wide for the parking strip, too bad.

Dwarf Spiral Cryptomeria

Now this is more like it. Dwarf Spiral Cryptomeria, supposedly stays small, love the curly habit, definitely would be an eye-catcher. Hm, anyone grown this before? I like how the branch ends look like emerging fiddlehead ferns. I’m picturing it with a sprinkling of dew, and maybe a fat chickadee atop it. Oh yeah.

The city of Seattle does not recommend the planting of conifers in the parking strip. Well, they hedge about it; here is a quote from their web site:

“Conifer trees are not generally recommended for street planting. The lower limbs can cause visibility/safety problems at driveways, alleys, intersections, signs, and signals. They may be approved for street planting if the site is deemed appropriate. The planting of Conifers is encouraged on appropriate private property sites.”

So, a little dwarfy curly cutie one, where it wouldn’t block anyone’s visibility, would be okay, right?


7 Responses to “Considering Conifers”

  1. gardenmentor Says:

    Actually, the city may not let that fly, but call the city arborist to find out. Our parking strip had three Thundercloud plums when we moved in. I knew they’d get too big for the space, plus they started dripping aphid poop and shedding nasty little plums everywhere. So I selected another tree to install.

    I filled out the paperwork, did the measurements and contacted the city arborist about my proposed change. First, he argued that the city had spent a lot of money planting trees in my parking strip. I then pointed out there was no way they would have planted or permitted the trees in the strip & that I wanted to remove them before they became more of a problem. He fought me until I said the trees were fruiting. Then he agreed they needed to come out — go figure?

    Then, he rejected my Star Magnolia right away because it becomes too shrubby. When I promised to keep it pruned as a tree, they pointed out that they never knew when I might move away.

    So, I asked about Acer griseum, and got those approved.

    My measurements, using their design requirements, showed that I could only plant two trees. So, he started the argument that I needed to put in 3 trees. I had to show him the measurements to get a replacement with 2 approved.

    After that it was smooth sailing. My two trees are happily plugging along and are nowhere near the overhead powerlines.

  2. Jen Says:

    Love that dwarf spiral stuff . I have some blue star junipers in a bed near the street. It has stayed really small, but seems happy and healthy.

  3. Michelle Says:

    I do love interesting oddball plants like that Cryptomeria – it has my approval!

  4. Megan Says:

    Absolutely yes to all the conifers! Sounds like you have to be prepared to outsmart the city requirements, but such great choices!

  5. Kristi Says:

    I love the curly leaves of the Dwarf Spiral Cryptomeria

  6. Fern Says:

    Gardenmentor’s story is crazy! City officials can be really nutty sometimes. The city planted a palm tree in front of my parents house which is a black widow magnet, but they wig out whenever my mom calls the exterminator to try and kill the black widows having a big party in the bark of the tree.

  7. Kim Says:

    Love ALL those you showed. Good luck!

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