by Joann Vieira, Horticulture Director
For the past 15 years some of New England's most savvy and seasoned horticulturists have come together to share knowledge and select plants suitable for the Cary Award. Over these years many plants, from stately evergreen trees, to brilliant shrubs, glorious vines and superior groundcovers, have been selected for this honor. All of those chosen share a few key qualities – they are outstanding plants for New England gardens due to their hardiness, adaptability, availability, pest and disease resistance, and season-extending characteristics. In keeping with these aims, these attributes are found in the selections for 2013 – both are hardy, durable evergreens that bring structure and durability to the winter garden.
Veitch Fir (Abies veitchii) is a decidedly rugged and very handsome fir for modern gardens. Hardy to Zone 3, it grows slowly into a pyramidal form reaching 35-40' in as many years. In its native range in Central and Southern Japan it can attain heights of up to 75', with a spread of 30-35' with age. In the Lawn Garden at Tower Hill Botanic Garden it has reached about 25' tall in 22 years. This fir's needles are deep green on top and sport a showy white band beneath. It happily grows in good garden soil which is neither wet nor droughty, in full sun or partial shade. Veitch's Fir provides cover and nesting sites for a variety of birds adding to the liveliness of any garden.
Threadleaf Falsecypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Filifera' cultivars) – the many golden cultivars of the Threadleaf Falsecypress indicate its popularity in the landscape. The species is a very hardy evergreen, hailing from Japan and introduced into cultivation in this country in 1861. The threadleaf forms have mop-like drooping branchlets that add an unusual texture in the garden. Golden versions, like Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Filifera Aurea', and C. 'Gold Mop', add bright yellow color which draws attention and serves as a beacon particularly in the winter. 'Filifera Aurea' will grow to 20' tall, whereas 'Golden Mop' remains much shorter. 'Sungold' reaches 5-6' tall and a foot or two wider with age. All of the cultivars grow well in rich, slightly acidic garden soil with adequate moisture, but not wet. Full sun heightens the color of the golden forms. Not only are they a focal beacon when used judiciously, they also provide glowing material for holiday decorations and containers! Hardy to Zone 4.
Visit the Cary Award website for details on the program, and past winners.