Our native evergreen trees

Evergreens are good plants for cover all year round, but especially in our cold winter months.

 ©Janet Allen Juniper

This is some kind of juniper. When we planted this many years ago, we didn't keep track of details like particular names.

 ©Janet Allen Juniper berries ©Janet Allen

It produces a nice crop of berries for the birds.

"Cedar" waxwings, as their name indicates, especially like it. (And juniper berries are also the secret ingredient in gin!)

Eastern red-cedar
(Juniperus virginiana)
 ©Janet Allen Eastern red-cedar

Eastern red-cedar is kind of a scruffy-looking plant (at least ours is), but as William Cullina points out in his book Native Trees, Shrubs & Vines, there's a lot of individual variation in this species. In other words, you could say they have a lot of "character." It's great for wildlife, especially birds, who love its nutritious berries and consider it a good place to build a nest and to seek cover.

Wildlife: Berries for birds, small mammals; nesting material and cover
Larval host: Olive butterfly
More info from Wildflower Center

(Thuja occidentalis)
 ©Janet Allen Arborvitae

Arborvitae is also known as Northern white cedar. Note that there are two different kinds in this photo. Each cultivar has different ultimate heights and other characteristics. We didn't always take this into account, so some of our arborvitae are getting taller than we expected. Still, they're great native plants, and—especially important—easy to find commercially.

Wildlife: Food and cover for birds
More info from Wildflower Center

Canadian hemlock
(Tsuga canadensis)
 ©Janet Allen Hemlocks in the back

A hemlock can get to be a giant tree. Generally homeowners keep them pruned pretty well—but we missed the boat on that. These three hemlocks are much too large now for us to prune effectively. They're also way too close together. The garden center where we purchased them many years ago insisted that they could be planted just a few feet apart. What could they have been thinking? I remember calling them to verify their instructions and they insisted that it was the correct distance. I've learned since that it pays to do your own research on these things. They must have been assuming I would be out there pruning the daylights out of these trees every year. We now try to choose plants that fit their spaces naturally.

Wildlife: Insects
Larval host: Columbia silkmoth
More info from Wildflower Center

Canadian hemlock
(Tsuga canadensis)
 ©Janet Allen Hemlock

You can see that this can provide very good cover in winter for birds.

Believe it or not, this hemlock—a tree destined to become 60-80 feet tall and 25-40 feet wide— was planted about three feet from the house on both sides! And this was done as part of a professionally-designed landscaping project by a high-end local firm. I guess they wanted instant landscaping and assumed we'd just replace it with a smaller one in a few years.

This was when I finally realized that it's cheaper to make my own mistakes instead paying someone else to make them.

We, of course, had to cut this down. It was just way too large for the space.