Though evergreen trees and shrubs are important to the garden all year long, they are perhaps most noticed during the winter. After the deciduous plants lose their leaves, evergreens become the prominent feature in the landscape. As one of the few colors in the garden, they help brighten up a barren winter landscape.
There are a few different types of evergreens. Conifer evergreens, such as pine, juniper and spruce, have scales or needles and produce cones. Broad-leaf evergreens are thick, oblong leaves. Variegated evergreens have foliage which is multi-colored. Euonymus leaves, for instance, have a dark green outer edge with a yellow or white center.
Plan for evergreens in your garden design as carefully as you plan your flower gardens. Just as you want to consider what flowers look good together, plan what foliage looks good together. You will also need to think about proper balance in the garden when selecting your evergreens. Too many different variegated or brightly colored plants all together could make your garden appear busy and overwhelming, rather than soothing and inviting. Plant boldly colored or variegated evergreen as specimens and carefully chosen focal points.
Use evergreens to frame interesting architectural details or as hedges in a formal garden. They’re also very effective for framing an entrance way. Evergreen are an ideal back drop for other garden plants as well. For instance, planting a stand of red twig dogwoods in front of a massing of hollies creates a wonderful contrast, allowing the red stems to stand out against the a deep green background. Planting variegated euonymus in front of a row of yews is an effective way to brighten up the garden.