Summer’s splendor has come to an end. The lushness of lawns, trees, shrubs and flowers has faded, but a garden should be showing a quieter side just as beautiful as the previous season. Every garden should have its share of plants that provide interest during Chicago’s long winter season. Evergreens provide winter interest because they hold their needles through the winter months. They are, of course, the staples of the landscape; boxwoods and yews cover foundations with their green lushness. But evergreens come in all sizes, textures and colors, and can be used as specimen accents through the landscape. It’s fun to put a few small specimens in the perennial garden for a winter effect, or use a larger plant to add drama at the back of the bed. Here are a few of our favorites photographed up close, during a stroll in our nursery this afternoon.

Mops Golden Cypress Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Mops’ is a pretty little plant with a low-mounding, pyramidal form and brilliant yellow, thread-like foliage. Best color shows when planted in sun; it turns green in shade.  60″ tall x 36″ wide.

Hinoki False Cypress Chamaecyparis obtusa Some have described the way the needles are held on this unusual, slow-growing plant as resembling coral formations. Especially attractive in a Japanese garden. Its holds its dark green color best in part shade. 8’ tall x  4’ wide.

Sullivan Falsecypress Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Sullivan’ has softly drooping branches that provide a semi-pendulous habit. This fluffy yet narrow evergreen grows well in sun to part shade. Tips turn a bright red-orange in cooler months. We feel it performs better in this area than a Canadian Hemlock. 15′ h x 8′ w.

Blue Star Juniper Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’ is a little plant with its fantastic, bright, steel-blue needles. Low-growing, slow-growing, mounded in form, it makes a great accent in a sun-loving rock garden, or as a low border plant. 24″ x 36″w.

Hetz Juniper Juniperus chinensis ‘Hetz Columnaris’ is tall and strong, yet delicately textured, with an upright, pyramidal habit and emerald green foliage. Dense, tight habit makes this plant useful as a screen. Best in sun. Blue fruit are very attractive in the fall, turning golden brown. Distilled juniper berries are the source of gin! 10′ h x 5′ w.

Globe Blue Spruce Picea pungens ‘Globosa’ is a bright blue dwarf spruce with a neat rounded habit, flat-topped and densely branched. A beautiful sun-loving specimen deserving of a place by the front door or a special spot in the garden. 36″ tall x 36″ wide. 

Mr. Bowling Ball Arborvitae Thuja occidentalis ‘Bobazam’ is an delightful little plant that holds it attractive, unusual sage green color on soft, feathery leaves all year. This plant forms a perfectly round, compact globe. Who can resist its name? Loves sun. 24″ tall x 24″ wide.

Fire Chief Arborvitae Thuja occidentalis ‘Congabe’ is a little fireball, compact, and round, with distinctive foliage coloration of green and yellow with pinkish-red tips. Best coloration is achieved when sited in a sunny location. Never needs pruning. 36″ high x 36″ wide.