Three top native evergreen trees for four season gardens

A while ago, I did a post on 3 of my favorite evergreen shrubs.  Now I would like to discuss three of my top native evergreen trees for four season landscapes.  By native, I mean native to the U.S.

#3 of my top native evergreen trees  - Candicans white fir

top native evergreen trees - Candicans concolor fir

Candicans concolor fir – Picture does not do it justice

- Abies concolor ‘Candicans’ – The white fir withstands city conditions better than any other fir and is resistant to heat and drought.  A native of the Rocky Mountains, Candicans White Fir will grow to be about 30 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 10 feet.  It is a pyramidal-shaped evergreen tree with bluish-green needles.  The cultivar ‘Candicans’ has an awesome silver blue color.  This is an eye catching replacement for Blue Colorado Spruce.  It looks better, gets fewer diseases in the Midwest, has soft needles, and smells slightly citrusy.  It does need well drained soil or it will die.  No hard clay here.  It is hard to find in nursery’s, but they are worth even special ordering and waiting for.

#2 of my top native evergreen trees – Nootka Falsecypress

Top native evergreen trees - Sullivan falsecypress

Sullivan falsecypress foliage

- both the Weeping and the Sullivan cultivars – Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Pendula’ and ‘Sullivan’-  This species of tree will reach 90′ in the wild but only about 50′ in cultivation. It has a conical crown above pendulous branches with long, flattened sprays.  It needs plenty of moisture but not standing water.  I guess I am cheating here picking two, but hey, it’s my blog.

The cultivar ‘Pendula’ has become a standard specimen plant in landscapes throughout the US as it is a true eye catcher.  Weeping Nootka Falsecypress will grow to be about 25 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 12 feet.  It has a low canopy and is suitable for planting under high power lines.

Top native evergreen trees - Sullivan falsecypress

Sullivan falsecypress foliage

The cultivar ‘Sullivan’ is more like a standard arborvitae shape, but the foliage just looks 100% classier.  It does however probably grow too thin to be used as a hedge.  Sullivan Nootka Falsecypress will grow to be about 20 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 12 feet.  It also has a low canopy that is suitable for planting under high power lines.

My top native evergreen trees – Vanderwolf’s Pyramid Limber pine

- Pinus flexilis ‘Vanderwolf’s Pyramid’ – An evergreen tree with a dense, compact pyramidal form.  It features soft blue-green needles on flexible branches (they can even be tied in a knot!).   It has a strong central leader and a distinctive and refined pyramidal form.

Top native evergreen  trees- Vanderwolf's limber pine

Vanderwolf’s Pyramid Limber Pine

It is an excellent choice for smaller landscapes as it only gets 20’ wide and 50’ high.  It has attractive bluish-green foliage that remains bluish green through winter.  This is one reason I selected this pine for my yard instead of White pines that can discolor to yellow in the winter.   Its relatively fine texture sets it apart from other landscape plants with less refined foliage.  It also has an attractive shaggy gray bark.

This is a tough species of tree that in the wild survives drought, extreme cold and high winds.  It is also a native pine, so it is resistant to pinewood nematode, which is a fatal disease that afflicts nonnative pines, such as Scotch pines and is widespread in my area (Illinois).

This tree is fast growing (up to 2 feet per year) and readily available in most sizes.

I hope you found some new plants to consider for your four season garden here.  To see my top 3 evergreen shrubs for foundation plants (and other places) click here.

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  1. PJ says

    I’m looking for a compatible fir tree to plant with my apple, peach, pear, cherry trees. Do you have any ideas?

    • says

      My two favorite firs are Candican’s white fir (Abies concolor ‘Candicans’)-see above and the Korean fir (Abies koreana). Either might work for you depending upon your climate and soil.

      The Korean fir gets 20-30 feet tall and about 10-15 feet wide (after many years, it is a slow grower). It only grows in zones 5 and 6 though. It does have cool purple winter cones.

      Firs can be particular about climate and soil, so there are others that might work for you but it will depend where you are located.

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