Exclamation Points!

Skyrocket Juniper in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Skyrocket Juniper makes a Statement (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

There’s a lot of hub-bub amongst the literary hierarchy regarding the use, or contended misuse, of the exclamation point in a sentence. Use them after an interjection or an emphatic declaration. Use them as a tool to add punch to a statement.  But, use them sparingly, lest you be strung up for your grammatical faux pas!  Although the use of exclamation points dates back to the 15th century, we didn’t see them on our keyboards until the 1970’s.  Perhaps only groovy hipsters (that’s us) truly appreciate the possibilities of an exclamation point!

So, if one can use exclamation points in a sentence (with restraint, of course) could we also incorporate them in other aspects of our lives?  An exclamation point salad?  Socks, tee shirts, maybe a blanket?  Oh, that’s just silly.  But, what about in the garden?  Well, you might just have something there . . .

Dwarf Spruce in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Dwarf Spruce at base of Stairs (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

How would one go about adding exclamation points to a garden, you ask?  When considering the description and purpose of this form of punctuation, it’s easy to translate the theory.  By adding an architecturally interesting deciduous shrub or a structurally impressive evergreen to a specific point in your garden; front and center as a greeting or at the end for final emphasis, there you have it-your garden exclamation point.(!) It’s that simple.  But also incredibly fun and entertaining, just like the punctuation mark itself.

Birdnest Spruce in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Birdnest Spruce as End Point (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

In my zone 5 garden, there are evergreens of all shapes, heights and sizes; many are used for the purpose of creating a finale for one area or an introduction to another.  For the lower, broader overture, I love bird nest spruce, Picea abies ‘Nidiformis’, which never dominates the scene, instead maintaining a slow growing, round green form that is happy to share space with perennials or nearby shrubs.  Junipers are more of a ragamuffin, rough and tumble sort of bed mate, yet many forms work well as end points for taller gardens because they tend to grow horizontally as well as upright, are easy to hack into shape, come in a range of colors-from gold, grey, and blue-and tolerate a realm of crummy soil conditions, to boot.  For dramatic impact, skyrocket junipers are the epitome of an exclamation point.  Prominent and dauntless, they make the perfect garden sentry.  There are a variety of hardy choices for skyrocket junipers: Cupressus sempervirens ‘Totem Pole’ (dark green), Cupressus sempervirens ‘Swanes Gold’ (yellow), Juniperus communis ‘Hibernica’ (silvery-green), Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Columnaris’ (blue-grey), and the miniature Juniperus communis ‘Compressa’ (green, up to 6′ tall by 1′ wide).

Trim to Fit in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Weigela’s bright foliage creates a perfect anchor (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

But don’t limit yourself to evergreens, please!  Twig dogwoods, with their beautiful array of bright red and rich gold stems, are dazzlers for climax points, dwarf ornamentals such as peach or apple have decadent bark and ample branching to anchor any bed, even shrubs such as physocarpus, wiegela or hydrangea (if pruned to a firm shape), can provide a sound starting/ending point for any location.

Take a moment to study your landscape while branches are bare and the bones are evident.  This is the best time to plan an exciting debut in just the right locale; one that will make a bold statement about you and your garden.  In an exclamation point sort of way, that is. (!)


  1. Love it- grammar in the garden!

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