As I was talking a stroll through the garden yesterday afternoon, enjoying what is becoming the end of the autumn color season, what I found to be the most striking were the blue conifers. I have always loved my blue conifers – always admired the varied and sometimes subtle color differences, but there was just something about the way the low autumn sun was hitting the colorful foliage that made these particular plants stand out.
There really are so many different shades of blue within the conifer world. You have Picea pungens ‘Hoopsii’ as an example of one of the very brightest blues, then you have the varying blue hues throughout the range of cultivars of Blue Colorado spruce from the good strong blues of ‘Fat Albert’, ‘Montgomery’, ‘St. Mary’s Broom’, and ‘Procumbens’ in forms that stretch from full-sized, large trees, to small dwarfs and ground covers – all in peaceful, calming, hues of blue. Then there are the blue-greens such as, ‘Roundabout’ or ‘Waldbrunn’ whose color is not the bright blue of those mentioned before, nor can these selections be considered to be simply, green.
And that’s just a few selections of Picea pungens (Colorado spruce). There are other wonderfully hardy spruce that can add to the blue pallet of your garden.
Other spruce species also produce exciting blue hues. Picea omorika (Serbian spruce) has several cultivars with wonderful bi-colored needles that give the plants a silvery-blue-gray appearance from a distance – some appear more blue than others, but all seem to shimmer in the autumn. ‘Nana’ is a somewhat large growing dwarf with annual growth of about six inches, growing into a full, compact silvery, blue-green cone-shaped small tree.
Picea sitchensis ‘Silberzwerg’ is a beautiful silvery-blue selection of the Sitka spruce. Vigorous and yet very compact, its thin, sharp needles are bi-colored with the same kind of waxy coating that covers the undersides of needles in several conifer species and totally covering the needles of the Blue Colorado spruce varieties.
These are just of few of the blue hues available for year-round color. All of these selections are cold hardy and will do well in the greater area of the USA and Canada. Of course, there are excellent blues to be found in selections of Cedrus, Chamaecyparis, Cupressus, Juniperus, Pinus and Tsuga that may also extend into our more southern climates.
The more I think about it, the more I believe there just isn’t any reason that gardens all over the country shouldn’t be filled with conifers, large to small, providing, structure, texture, wildlife habitat and year-round color.