Evergreens are no longer just green. This golden juniper, along with others like golden pines, cedars, yews and larches, make collecting yellow conifers an exciting garden hobby. / ROB ZIMMER/Post-Crescent Media
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For gardeners who are into collecting trees, evergreens are among the hottest commodities. Within this circle of highly unusual, elegant offerings are a group of ever “greens” slowly coming into their own: the golden conifers.
Golden, or yellow, conifers are more popular than ever with more amazing and interesting varieties hitting nurseries each year. From miniature and dwarf conifers to full-sized giants, conifers in yellow draw landscapers and gardeners for the year-round interest they provide in the yard.
Like permanent flowers, golden conifers brighten gardens and yards from spring through fall, right on into winter. Only one group of yellow evergreens, the tamaracks or larches, lose their golden needles in fall, but they are spectacular when in full color.
When looking for golden conifers, select carefully and avoid those that appear sickly. Weaker colored conifers may just appear “dead” in the landscape.
Larches, or tamaracks, are rare in the evergreen family in that they lose their soft, bristle-like needles each autumn. Beginning in September and peaking in October and early November, the needles of larches begin to turn bright brassy gold, increasing in intensity and color until fall rains and winds separate them from their branches.
Weeping larch is a beautiful evergreen that features long, spindly branches in the classic weeping form. As is becoming more and more accepted with collector’s conifers, these often take odd, asymmetrical forms, creating some of the most unusual and bizarre garden centerpieces.
Taylor's Gold Tip Pine or Taylor's Sunburst
Bright golden new growth in spring makes Taylor’s Gold Tip and Taylor’s Sunburst spectacular in spring and early summer. A vibrant, show-stopping tree in the yard and garden, this collector’s plant has quite a following among conifer collectors and landscapers.
At Van Zeeland Nursery, Little Chute, home to many of the most unique and collectible conifers in northeast Wisconsin, Taylor’s Gold Tip Pine glimmers against a spring blue sky, its large, golden flames rustling in the morning wind.
One of the most popular golden conifers available at Van Zeeland, the bright yellow color of this pine lasts into early summer when the new growth hardens to light green. The striking cones, in rich red, add to the beauty of this tree.
Dwarf Golden Japanese Yew
For smaller areas, borders and beds, dwarf golden Japanese yew makes a great choice with its short, stubby branches layered in soft, golden needles. This plant grows in a compact form reaching a maximum of about three feet high by five feet wide.
At its brightest in spring, the foliage eventually fades to a light, lime green. It’s finely textured foliage give it a softer appearance among other collector conifers in the garden.
Franky Boy Oriental Arborvitae
One of the most flamboyant of the golden conifers, this unique arborvitae boasts extremely elongated, feather-like plumes of golden yellow foliage that wave in the spring and summer breeze. In winter, this conifer turns to a warm and toasty golden orange.
With its distinct, upright form and long, threadlike growth form, this unusual tree is a striking specimen plant for the garden, growing to about 5 feet tall.
Yellow Ribbon Arborvitae
There are many golden arborvitaes on the market, and this is one of the best, also available at Van Zeeland Nursery in Little Chute.
Yellow Ribbon features foliage that is darker green toward the center and bright golden yellow on the outside, creating a spectacular effect. This striking plant is at its best in full sun locations, where its bright golden color is unbeatable.
Mother Lode Juniper
A dwarf, ground-hugging conifer, Mother Lode is perfect for rock gardens, rock walls or as a ground cover.
Growing just a few inches high, but spreading for several feet in interesting, snaking patterns, the bright golden foliage of Mother Lode is a beautiful compliment to other, green and blue creeping junipers.
Sea of Gold Juniper
This beautiful juniper features lacy foliage in a mixture of deep green and golden yellow and makes a great accent plant. Sea of Gold retains its golden highlights into winter, making it a wonderful choice year-round in the garden.
This small to medium-sized juniper reaches approximately 3 feet high by 4 feet wide.
—Rob Zimmer: 920-993-1000, ext. 7154, or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @YardMD