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Everlasting Evergreens

Evergreens carry my yard through all the seasons.
by Kathy Van Mullekom, a lifelong gardener and gardening writer living in York County, Virginia

Evergreens are the bones of my garden – the structure that carries the garden through seasons of spring flowers, summer butterflies, autumn leaves and winter cold.

I love our evergreen trees and shrubs because they are chosen for purpose and beauty. Some are native, others are not.

My all-time favorite privacy hedge of wax myrtle is a large native shrub that screens our yard from the neighbor’s driveway. It also muffles the sounds of kids playing basketball. The fragrant evergreen bears grayish berries that songbirds like to eat, and provides them with safe cover from hawks flying overhead and gives them places to build nests for their young. It’s a problem-free shrub, some say small tree that needs occasional trimming, depending on your needs.

Also bordering our property is a row of eight Emerald Green Thuja, members of the arborvitae family that 3-4 feet wide and 8-12 feet tall. It adjoins the wax myrtle hedge, creating a “living fence” that’s better for the environment than a static wooden privacy fence. The arborvitae grow in an attractive tidy shape that never needs shearing or pruning – just make sure you give them generous space to grow because crowding plants too close together is never recommended.

I’m also quite fond of my eastern red cedar, a “she” version for all the beautiful blue-green berries she bears, again providing a natural food source for the songbirds that frequent our yard. Past storms whipped the tree but she continues to stand strong and sturdy.

Other evergreens in my yard include camellias , small boxwoods, nandinas and hollies. I can’t imagine our yard without them.