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Conifer Collection


You may not have room for a collection of fully grown conifer trees in your garden, but a mini conifer patch is a sweet addition. Choose plants in different shades and heights and plant in a tray, giving the roots space to grow outward.

The Winter GardenPhotography by Debbie Patterson



Metal tray

Hammer and nail


Potting compost

Selection of small conifers, Emma has used:

  • Cupressus macrocarpa‘Goldcrest’ (Monterey cypress)
  • Cryptomeria japonica‘Vilmoriniana’ (Japanese cedar)
  • Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Pembury Blue’ (Lawson’s cypress)
  • Cryptomeria japonica ‘Globosa Nana’ (Japanese cedar)
  • Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Carpet’ (flaky juniper)
  • Juniperus communis ‘Depressed Star’ (common juniper)
  • Cryptomeria japonica ‘Tilford Gold’ (Japanese cedar)



1. Make drainage holes in the bottom of the tray if it does not have any. Use a hammer and nail and punch holes randomly all over the base.

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2. Put a layer of crocks in the bottom of the tray, covering the drainage holes so that they will not become blocked with potting compost.

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3. Scoop potting compost into the tray, half filling it and spreading the compost out evenly.

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4. Soak the root balls of all the plants in water for about 20 minutes so they are all completely wet. Take the Monterey cypress out of its pot and tease the roots out a little if necessary. Plant it at the back of the tray, pushing it down into the potting compost slightly and making sure that it is vertical.

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5. Remove the pot from the Japanese cedar ‘Vilmoriniana’ and plant next to the Monterey cypress in the same way. Make sure that the surfaces of the root balls are level.

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6. Continue in the same way, planting the Lawson’s cypress in front of the Monterey cypress.

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7. Take the Japanese cedar ‘Globosa Nana’ from its pot and plant in the right-hand corner at the front of the tray.

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8. Remove the flaky juniper from its pot and plant in the front left-hand corner. Squeeze in the two remaining conifers in the middle of the tray. Add more potting compost to fill in any gaps and level the surface, firming the compost down so that all the plants are held in place.

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Water the tray and leave to drain. If the tray is in a sheltered spot where it will not receive any rainfall, water it regularly so that the potting compost remains moist, but be careful not to overwater. Stick your fingers in the potting compost to check the moisture—you will probably not be able to tell if the conifers are too dry by looking at them. Add fertilizer to the tray in the second year after planting to keep the conifers healthy.


This project is from The Winter Garden by Emma Hardy. To get more fab blog posts like this one - direct to your inbox - be sure to sign up to our mailing list here.


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