The not-so-rare garden blues

My wife and I love autumn in the garden center – I think it might even be more fun than a garden center in springtime!

We had an opportunity to get away for the weekend. Living so near the Oregon coast, we try to spend at least one weekend per year there. This year it has taken us 10 months, but we finally made it. We enjoyed our drive over the Oregon Coast Range, driving along the river while watching the golden leaves of the native Big Leaf Maples swish and swirl as they fell to the ground and swept up again by passing cars. Of course the coast was refreshing, and to our surprise, the weather was mild with just a few clouds and a very slight breeze.

Our trip home was even more gorgeous. The sun was shining bright and the sky was bright blue and the air smelled fresh and clean. We decided to take the scenic route home, which just happened to take us by one of our favorite garden centers. As we made our approach, we could see the place was prepared for autumn sales with a large space devoted to well-placed, plump orange pumpkins ready to be selected by the excited children running through with occasional glances back to mom saying, “I want this one!”

Cupressus glabra 'Blue Pyramid'
Cupressus glabra 'Blue Pyramid' is one of the best blue trees one might find for warm climate areas, growing best in full sun throughout Zones 6-9

My wife had found her way to the carts, so I was confident that I had a moment to check out the conifer section – just in case there were any new arrivals, or I could find a great end-of-season bargain. As I slowly meandered through the discount section, I overheard a conversation that one of the workers was having with her customer.

“What I’m looking for are some ways to add splashes of blue color to my garden. I just can’t seem to find anything that is blue – especially this time of year.”

I immediately looked over at the conifer section and then back to the nursery worker. “Well, blue is a very rare color in the garden, there really aren’t very many flowers that are blue and, finding anything blue this time of year… well, this is the time of year for red and orange and yellow!” she answered.

Juniperus conferta 'Silver Mist'
Juniperus conferta 'Silver Mist' is a tremendous spreading conifer that will add a vibrant color and coarse texture to the garden.

Now I am finding myself in a somewhat frustrating position. My wife definitely has autumn decorations on her mind, and I can see her coming back out to the sales yard with her cart. I look back over to the conifer section and I can easily see that they have several very nice blue conifers in stock, ranging in growth rate from the very dwarf to those that will grow into full-sized trees–plants that will provide a wonderful, year-round blue to this customer’s garden.

I glance back over to my wife, she has spotted me and gives me a little wave. I wave back as I begin to move closer to the conversation taking place not 15 feet away. My wife sees me making my approach and I try not to look her way as I can see from the corner of my eye that she is beginning to shake her head.

“Hi, I don’t mean to be bother you, but I couldn’t help overhearing that you are interested in adding some nice blue color to your garden.” I say, hoping not to seem impolite.

“Yes I am.” says the customer while the worker looks on with an inquisitive face.

Picea pungens 'Lundeby's Dwarf'
Picea pungens 'Lundeby's Dwarf' is a premium dwarf conifer with outstanding blue color - if one were looking for a color spot, this is it!

“I noticed that there are some beautiful blue conifers over there.” pointing to the conifer section, “Now, I don’t know what size your space may be, but they do have a nice variety of cultivars that could fit in a small space or others that will grow to become majestic blue specimen trees.” I glance over my shoulder and see that my wife has changed directions and is heading toward the pumpkin patch.

“I hadn’t even thought of conifers when she asked me that question.” said the worker. “Yes, we have some excellent blue dwarf conifers that might be just what you are looking for…” she said as she began to lead the way to the conifers.

The customer thanked me and I tipped my hat and made my way back to my wife just as she was picking up a pumpkin and placing it in the cart. “I want one of these warty ones,” I said as I wandered through the patch.

Conifer Lover

2 thoughts on “The not-so-rare garden blues

  1. Hi Ed,

    I was just having a conversation about blue conifers this afternoon with a landscape contractor. I am trying to find a not-so-tall but upright blue spruce cultivar for use in front of a native stone wall. To the Iseli Nursey catalog I go….


    1. Hi Debbie! First thing that comes to mind is Picea pungens ‘Sester Dwarf’. Keep in mind the one pictured in the current Iseli catalog is about seven or eight feet tall and 25 years old or so in that photo. Have fun!


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