What do pines, eucalyptus, magnolias, spruces and azaleas have in common? They are all part of the evergreen family. An evergreen is a plant that holds its foliage even when it is dormant, or resting, in winter. They are very hardy plants that can be grown anywhere in the United States. Evergreens require very little maintenance other than pruning occasionally to keep their shape and size. They are resistant to most insects and diseases and are the perfect answer to a lot of landscaping problems.
There are two classes of evergreens. The narrow-leaved evergreens with needle-like leaves, include pines and spruces. They are also known as conifers because they carry their seed in cones. Conifers thrive in cold climates because their needles lose moisture at a slow rate during cold weather. Conifers include a few that aren't evergreens such as larch, bald cypress and dawn redwood. They lose needles each fall like oaks and maples and are called deciduous conifers.
Broad-leaved evergreens whose leaves are wider, are found mostly in the south and include such plants a rhododendrons and magnolias. These evergreens do better in warm areas where moisture is more available and there is no frost.
Evergreens serve many purposes. They shield homes from winter winds while shading from summer sun. They flourish in places where grass won't grow. Evergreens act as a screen for headlights and noise. They also add interest to a landscaped area.
Not all evergreens are green. Depending on age, variety and season they can be shades of yellow, blue, gray, bronze, or deep purple. Berries and pine cones also add interest and color to a bleak winter day.
Evergreens give landscapes a richness, a warmth, an elegance, and an assurance that spring with return someday soon.
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