Unusual Conifers Coming of Age

A Guide to Mature Garden Conifers, by Sandra McLean


The Gotelli Collection of Dwarf & Slow Growing Conifers
The United States National Arboretum, Washington, D.C.

A must-have reference tool for home gardeners and landscape professionals.

  • See what dwarf conifers look like when they ‘grow up’?
  • Learn how to care for dwarf conifers

Written in a reader-friendly style, filled with extensive photos and 350+ descriptions of dwarf conifers and unusual conifers. 365 color photos provide examples of mature sizes, forms, colors and close-ups of foliage.

Why settle for common conifers? Especially ones that soon become overgrown, engulfing garden beds, sidewalks and windows in the process? There are hundreds of dwarf conifers and unusual slow-growing conifers. Cutler’s Dwarf Conifer book is the guide you need when you make your landscaping choices.


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Sandra and her husband Bob have converted a suburban plot of lawn, brambles and woods into a thriving four-season garden with rock gardens, water features, and several thousand different plants. Her love of gardening leaves little time for her second passion, watercolor painting, so Sandra expresses her artistic talents by employing irregular forms, complimentary colors and contrasting textures to create natural art. Attracting wild birds is a major focus in this delightful botanical hideaway.Their home is on a deep 2½ acre lot adjacent to a nature preserve near Cleveland, Ohio.


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The 365 color photos of the Gotelli and Watnong Conifer Collections at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. provide reference for mature dwarf conifer specimens, and at the same time introduce the reader to our Nation’s living museum of dwarf and unusual conifers. The photographs and keyed line drawings in the first two chapters show mature dwarf conifers in landscaped beds. The reader can identify and compare the sizes, colors, textures and forms of mature plants.

You want to be sure you have the right plant: The only way to ensure it’s the right plant is to know the botanical name. Frustrated home gardeners and landscape professionals will appreciate the use of botanical names throughout. Uncomfortable with all that Latin? There is a cross-reference of botanical-to-common and common-to-botanical names of conifers in the back of the book which can come in handy.

There is a visual cross-reference for growth rates in the ‘History’ chapter, with photos of the installation (1962) and early years of the Gotelli Collection. Beginners will find the information in the chapter ‘Answers to a Few Questions’ extremely helpful.

The ‘Conifer Descriptions’ chapter describes over 350 conifers, includes close-up photos, growing information, growth rates and USDA hardiness zones. The ‘Care and Maintenance’ chapter has planting instructions, as well as integrated pest and disease management. The glossary, reading list and index add to the ‘user-friendly’ format used throughout this book, ensuring its continued use as a reference tool.

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