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Not All Evergreens Are Green!

Not All Evergreens Are Green!

By Natalie Carmolli, Proven Winners® ColorChoice® Shrubs
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners® ColorChoice® Shrubs

I think anyone living in a climate with long, cold winters can agree that choosing plants that provide winter interest is a necessity. Yes, dried grasses and flower heads have their beauty, but trees and shrubs that aren’t deciduous provide color to gardens when the rest of the garden has gone dormant.

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We call many coniferous trees and shrubs that retain their leaves (yes, needles are leaves) all year evergreens. But don’t let that fool you! Many evergreens sport leaves with bright shades of yellow and gold, and soft shades of blue. Mixing these colors into your evergreen palette will make your winter view much more interesting.

Let’s take a look at a few of them.

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Going for the Gold

Looking for a conifer that will stand out in the landscape? Fluffy® Western arborvitae (Thuja plicata) is a beacon of color and touchable texture. Thick, glossy foliage has a braided texture and is a bright, cheerful gold all year round. As a Western arborvitae, this species is more resistant to deer damage than the standard Eastern arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis). However, it should still be protected in areas where deer visit, especially as a young plant.

It’s equally suited to be grown as a dramatic specimen, paired at an entryway for formality, or as an unexpected hedge or screen. Though it resists burning, a good 2-3″/5-7cm layer of shredded bark mulch over the roots is recommended to help retain soil moisture, especially in winter.

Fluffy arborvitae is hardy down to USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 5. Height 5-10', width/spread 3-6’.

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Another conifer with cheerful golden foliage and a classic pyramidal shape is Pinpoint® Gold false cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana). Feathery foliage and a space-saving habit make it ideally suited as an eye-catching specimen or space-saving hedge plant. This native cultivar needs little to no pruning to maintain its appealing shape, and it is deer resistant and hardy down to zone 5. It will reach heights of 15-20' and widths of 3-5'.

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Dwarf conifers are cute, space-saving, and so versatile in the landscape. Anna’s Magic Ball® arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) is the epitome of all of these things! This super-hardy selection of our native arborvitae naturally grows as a dense little globe of golden yellow foliage. It's a fantastic choice for landscapes, gardens, and containers. It’s hardy down to zone 3 and stays a tidy 1-1.5' tall and wide.

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Moody Blues

With its appealing color, soft texture, and versatile habit, Pinpoint® Blue false cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana) makes an irresistible addition to the landscape. Feathery blue foliage persists all year, remaining bright and handsome even in winter. Narrow, columnar growth takes up little space in the landscape and needs no pruning to maintain. Pinpoint Blue false cypress is hardy down to zone 5 and will grow to 15-20' tall and 5-7' wide.

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Finally, Montana Moss® juniper (Juniperus chinensis) brings a refreshing blue-green tone to groundcover junipers. Its moss-like foliage is soft to the touch; its ability to withstand deer, drought, heat, and sun makes it a perfect choice for tough evergreen groundcovers. Montana Moss juniper is hardy down to zone 4 and has a low, spreading habit at 2-4' tall and 3-5' wide.

Creating a well-rounded garden palette goes well beyond blooms. To explore more choices, go to or ask your local garden center for evergreens that will add color and texture to your garden all season long.

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Photos and story by Monrovia Nursery Company

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