Dwarf conifers to the rescue!

One of my favorite independent garden centers had a big one-day sale last week. I had been looking for an excuse to give them a visit to see what exciting new plants they might have in stock, so I thought it would be fun to arrive just about the time they opened. What I found was a great number of people had the same idea, except they must have camped out because the parking lot was full and I had to park along the side of the rural road.

I made my way inside where I found a very long line leading from the cash register and along the north walkway, past the empty table that had been the display of the sale plants. The line continued along the east end of the building and progressed all along the south walkway.

I thought to myself that it really is still consistently too cold and wet for tomato plants to get a good start anyway, so I made my way to the new display of conifers. Honestly, I was a little disappointed that I would not be able to bring a prize home to my wife from my Big Sale hunting trip, but I thought I might at least find something new and exciting in the conifer section.

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Golden Fern'
Fantastic year-round color, Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Golden Fern' is a great dwarf conifer for most any garden.

Of course I was tempted by the Siren songs of all the new little conifers available in the four-inch pots, but I was being strong and found that I was able to resist those little cuties (this time). As I made my way toward a nice display of dwarf conifers, I struck up a conversation with a couple of ladies that seemed quite discontent about the lack of sale items available at the store. After all, the place had only officially opened twenty minutes ago. They seemed determined on being upset, so I mentioned that it was just nice to be out on such a lovely morning.

“Finding a great bargain is all fine and dandy” I explained, “but frankly, I’m happy that this sale motivated me to come to the garden center this morning. Don’t you just love all the pretty flowers in bloom – and look at these fantastic conifers!”

I really don’t know how to describe the look that these two ladies gave me at that point. It was almost like, “How dare you interrupt our displeasure with a positive outlook.”

Finally one of the ladies, not putting too much effort in hiding her being annoyed by me said, “Well, I do like the bright yellow color of that one over there.”

“Ahhhh, yes, the Golden Fern Hinoki Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Golden Fern’) – that’s really a fantastic dwarf conifer! I love how the foliage really does look a little like a forest fern – and the bright yellow color of this one just can’t be beat. Don’t you love how dwarf conifers fit so well in the garden with other flowering plants, and yet in the winter when everything else is bare or gone, the conifers provide wonderful color and structure to the garden?”

'Golden Fern' foliage
'Golden Fern' foliage has a striking texture as well as brilliant color.

I seemed to have captured their attention.

“Oh, I’ve heard about these dwarf conifers” One of my new friends said.

“You know, I have a dwarf blue spruce in my garden” the other reminded her companion.

“There’s just nothing better than dwarf conifers – and there are so many different ones to choose from. Some grow in full sun, others prefer shade; some grow tall and narrow, others are short and round or weeping or even hug the ground. Not to mention the vast color selection.”

The ladies asked if I was an employee and would I receive a commission if I was able to sell them a plant. I explained that I just loved gardening and growing conifers in particular. We chatted for several minutes, and by the time we were finished, they had both picked out a couple of the small conifers to plant in containers on their patio and seemed to have forgotten all about the bad mood they almost insisted upon  harboring when we met.

May your garden shopping be filled with successes this spring.

Ed-
Conifer lover

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5 thoughts on “Dwarf conifers to the rescue!

    1. Thank you, Frances. I went away empty-handed this time. It was nice just to enjoy the beautiful morning and see those two ladies smiling with small conifers in their shopping cart.

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    1. Hi Eileen, Depending on the specifics of you local Zone 7, there are a number of options for you from very slow growing dwarfs to larger garden trees. The first few that come to mind are:
      Cupressus glabra ‘Blue Pyramid’ is a brilliant, bright blue narrow upright that will become quite large in time.
      Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Blue Moon’ is a slow growing globe shaped form that will mature into a broad upright plant.
      Cedrus deodara ‘Prostrate Beauty’ is a very nice wide spreading form.
      If Colorado spruce grow well in your area you might consider, Picea pungens ‘Fat Albert’ for a large conical tree, P.p ‘Lundeby’s Dwarf’ for a slower growing, low, mounding form and P.p ‘St. Mary’s Broom’ is a delightful dwarf.
      Be sure to visit you local independent garden center, they should be equipped to guide you to the right blue conifer for your location.

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      1. Thank you. Garden centers tend to cater to the somewhat ordinary. I wanted something a little different. Thank you for your recommendations!

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