I love to talk about conifers with friends and neighbors (or anyone that will stand still long enough). As I engage them in conversation, I frequently discover that they know very little about my favorite plants.
“You mean those prickly juniper things,” They’ll say.
Or while pointing to a Tsuga mertensiana one said, “I just love my mountain pine over there.” (Not a pine at all, rather a hemlock.)
On the inside I’m shaking my head and on the outside I’m smiling patiently. Others will flat out tell me they don’t like conifers because they grow too big or are just too sharp and “stickery.” If I have the opportunity to take them through my garden, I’m able to enlighten them about the amazing world of conifers and the exciting variation of size, color, form and texture found there.
One great conifer that I love to show people (and have them touch) is Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘True Blue’ because it has so many great characteristics. First, it is a beautiful silvery blue color – most people are drawn to it all on their own for its great color. Second, it is an intermediate grower, so it won’t get huge over time and it responds well to annual shearing to keep it neat and compact if you like. Third, it is incredibly soft to the touch!
I have two in my garden, one I lightly shear to encourage a formal cone shaped plant, and the other I have pruned into a teddy bear topiary. I love to tell people to give the teddy bear a hug. Some will look at me strangely while others will hug it with no hesitation. Kids, of course, run right over and hug it again and again! The foliage is so soft and fuzzy that people are truly amazed when they touch it.
“This is a conifer?” They’ll ask. “Sure,” I respond with a big smile.
It really is quite a lot of fun to help people discover their inner “tree-hugger” and to see them become enthusiastic about adding conifers to their own gardens.
Thanks to my friends at Iseli Nursery for the photo link.