I picked this up because I’m considering some sort of evergreen to help anchor the sunny garden. Maybe in place of the sprawling butterfly bush, perhaps in the corner of the L-shape, just something soft, green, interesting and not too too big.
Richard L. Bitner‘s book, subtitled “The Best Choices for Year-Round Interest in Your Garden,” should fit the bill, except it doesn’t, quite. The arrangement is fresh – by color, shape, and then by site – prompting you to think of what effect you’re aiming for rather than just what looks good on the page. However, the listings are inconsistent. I want, for each item, the common and Latin names, height and width, zones, color, sun and drought tolerance, etc. He offers most of this info, but not all of it for any one plant, which means that for anything you find interesting, you have to do further research. Annoying.
I will say in his defense that the photographs are beautiful without being over the top, and that he does show each one in a landscape or garden so you get a good sense of how it might work.
I am intrigued with a Picea identified only as “a green spruce globe,” which might be orientalis ‘Nana’ and looks as though it would do well in a perennial border, about three feet tall.
The cryptomeria group (aka Japanese-cedar) is shade tolerant and has the combination of small size (some) and soft foliage that I like. Maybe japonica ‘Little Champion?’ He lists these as tolerating southern summers.
There’s nothing else for it than a trip to a nursery to see what they’re really like. I might also give the poor man a chance by trying his earlier book, “Conifers for Gardens,” which is apparently the encyclopedic reference book I wish this one was.