Need a “little something?”

The following information comes from Master Gardener Darrell Hennessey. 


Did you just move to a new or new-to-you home? Need to revitalize your current landscape?  Have a space that needs a “little something”?     Consider dwarf conifers!   A conifer, meaning a woody plant, usually evergreen tree or shrub; “dwarf” meaning the plant will grow only 3-4” per year, will provide you with:


  • Easy care
  • Varieties for either sun or shade
  • Year round greenery  
  • Wonderful for limited spaces
  • Available in wide variety of texture, size and color i.e.,

Rainbow’s End shows butter-yellow tips on new growth against

the green background

Limeglow, a creeping juniper with foliage turning shades of

copper-bronze in the winter

                                    Pendula, a hemlock with weeping branches

                                    Chamaecyparis colors ranging of soft green to spectacular yellow 

·         Shapes vary from airy and feathery to closed and tight-looking

·         Pine cones provide character and material for crafters

·         Mulch well, reduce weeding!

  Dwarf Conifers thrive in rock gardens, add elegance to ornamental grasses and provide a perfect backdrop to colorful annual and perennial beds.  You only need your imagination to enjoy these little wonders!  

3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Nancy said,

    Hi Cindy,
    I have a few questions for the master gardener. Can you help me get some answers?

    1) I have five evergreen shrubs (not sure what exact type) along the front of my house that are dying. They have turned grey on the front and are brown on the inside. What are some possible causes? When I replace them, should I choose something other than an evergreen?

    2) I have a young maple tree (about 4 years old) and a big chunk of roots are sticking up out of the ground near the trunk, which is rather unsightly. What’s the best way to cover up the roots – mulch? dirt? both?

    3) What type of mulch is best for a flower garden of annuals?

    Thanks for your help!

  2. 2

    Cindy said,


    My favorite mulch, for both annuals and perennials, is cocoa bean hulls. Made from the shells of cocoa beans, it’s more environmentally friendly and adds nutrients to the soil as it decomposes, unlike other types of mulch.
    The mulch can be purchased at Hy-Vee garden centers and many other stores. It needs to be replenished every year, but I like the dark red appearance and the nice chocolatey scent. I’ve seen some references on the Internet about keeping it away from dogs, as chocolate can be dangerous for pets, but haven’t heard of any verified cases.
    The Master Gardeners are working on your other questions.

    Thanks for asking!


  3. 3

    Cindy said,


    This response came from the Linn County Master Gardeners:

    1. Five evergreen shrubs(not sure what type) dying. We need to know the variety of trees; could they bring a sample to Extension to ID, then perhaps help client. For replacement – is the site sun/shaded. This needs to be evaluated, also to know about replacements.
    2. Young maple – roots sticking up from ground. Mulch would be a good product to use. The roots would just come up through soil, so not a good choice.
    3. Which type of mulch for flower garden of annuals. Composted manure or shredded wood mulch.

    I hope this helps – keep those questions coming.

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