Adding conifers to a garden can be one of the most difficult aspects of garden design. Long thought of massive, towering evergreen soldiers that demand more space than most gardens can afford to spare, conifers have often been looked at as something to garden around, not to garden with. Until now.
Designing with Conifers by Richard Bitner is a comprehensive look at a stunning array of different conifers, along with advice on how to use them in designed gardens. Bitner reviews different conifer shapes and colors with glorious photos that perfectly illustrate his advice about using conifers much like you would any other garden plant.
Bitner then moves on and looks at the best conifers for different conditions – from front entry gardens to Asian-themed gardens to trough gardens and shade filled gardens. There’s even a wonderful photo of a vertical garden filled with dwarf conifers that is like nothing I’ve ever seen.
While the photos are superb, be forewarned - not every conifer in the book has its own photo. Typically, I find that oversight annoying but the wealth of broad view photos that truly give you the sense of how these plants can be used in gardens more than makes up for it. This is, after all, a book about designing with conifers.
Perhaps the most useful chapter in the book is the case study of the Barrett Garden. Through the use of color and black and white photos, Bitner brings the reader step-by-step through the design consideration involved in choosing conifers for the various layers of the garden. Photos of the garden throughout the year certainly highlight the continuity and permanence conifers lend to any garden.
If you’re a conifer lover or are still figuring out the best way to add a few gems to your garden, do yourself a favor and check out Designing with Conifers.