Great Evergreen Giants
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Horticulture Stories


Stories from the park's horticulture team

Great Evergreen Giants

By Stacie Martin

It’s great to see so much green in December! The beginning of the month was unseasonably warm (until recently!) The leaves are still falling and the evergreens are still growing! While many plant species go dormant during the winter, evergreens hold onto their leaves and continue to photosynthesize. This means they continue to clean and remove carbon dioxide from the air! 


There are two types of evergreens- broadleaf and conifers. One example of a broadleaf evergreen is a Southern Magnolia. Southern Magnolias are native to the Southeastern United States and usually grow on the edges of swampy areas and wetlands. It’s easy to think that evergreens never lose their leaves, but they are actually leaf exchangers! As Southern Magnolias grow new leaves, they shed the old leaves. Picking up Southern Magnolia leaves is no one’s favorite activity, but it is worth it! Magnolia leaves are often used for decoration during the holidays. Southern Magnolias are found by the Energy Transfer Sports Courts, Slide Vale, and Chapman Adventure Playground.



An example of an evergreen conifer includes this Robusta Green Juniper in Chapman Adventure Playground. This specific juniper is known for its irregular twisted growth habit and blueberry-like cones! Its needles resemble scales. 



We recently planted some new, fun, exciting Great Green Giants! This new addition is a Weeping Serbian Spruce. Not all trees grow upwards! Weeping trees grow in a downward, sprawling manner. This is caused by a mutation in the growth genes of the plant. This Weeping Serbian Spruce (below) is by Williams Lodge and Redbud Café. We call it one of our Dr. Seuss trees.

Another weeping tree includes this Weeping Norway Spruce next to the Paddlefish in Chapman Adventure Playground! Needles on this Weeping Norway Spruce are slightly four-sided, so unlike fir trees, they are not flat and they do roll between your fingers. 


While not yet giant, and not weeping, this new Japanese Red Pine is cool! As it grows older, the trunk becomes an increasingly reddish-orange. You can see the needles of the pine are totally different. The Japanese Red Pine has needles in bundles of two.