Baby, I need the blues

My wife and I both love year-round color in our garden. One method we use to pack a lot of color into a smaller space is to use variegated plants. Of course we love the variegated conifers like Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Snowkist’, Juniperus chinensis ‘Torulosa Variegata, and Pinus parviflora ‘Ogon janome’. It seems appropriate to mention the conifers that push one color in spring and mature into another such as Picea orientalis ‘Aureospicata’Picea abies ‘Rubra Spicata’, or Picea pungens ‘Niemetz’. And then there are those conifers that are one color through the growing season and morph into another color with the onset of cold temperatures in autumn and winter like,  Juniperus horizontalis ‘Mother Lode’ and Pinus contorta ‘Chief Joseph’.

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Snowkist'
Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Snowkist’ has delightful varigation adding color to the garden, but Baby, I gotta have more blues!

Any garden including those nine conifers would be full of year-round color to be sure, but those selections are just small sample of the number of very colorful conifers in our garden. On top of all the color and variegation provided by our conifers, we also have a small collection of beautifully variegated and colorful Hostas and other herbaceous plants. But, I noticed something was seriously lacking in our garden this spring. I don’t know why I haven’t noticed it before. Our garden needs more blue.

I’ve talked about blue conifers several times in past posts, and it wasn’t until this past week that I began to feel the garden was unbalanced in the color spectrum – the yellow to blue ratio was way off!

Perhaps the reason for this new revelation is that the yellows and golds in my garden are absolutely stunning right now. The yellow and gold Chamaecyparis and Juniperus cultivars are as bright and clean-looking as I have ever seen them, and the spring yellow push of my spruce cultivars with that feature have never looked healthier – the foliage is lush and succulent and blemish-free (we’ve had no spring hail to pound the tender new foliage which can leave tiny brown scars on most any garden plant with tender young foliage).

Picea engelmannii 'Bush's Lace'
Picea engelmannii ‘Bush’s Lace’ will quickly become a stately specimen with excellent soft bluish green foliage and impressive weeping form.

Baby, I need the blues! If there is any money remaining in my gardening budget after I buy a few units of bark mulch to cover my many garden beds, I will definitely be adding a few new blue conifer specimens this year!

One excellent, large, bluish spruce that is on my Must Find list is, Picea englemanni ‘Bush’s Lace’. This is a very vigorous grower with a distinct weeping habit of all its lateral branches. The specimen in the Jean Iseli Memorial Garden is only about twelve years old, and the past two years I have seen its terminal leader grow at least three feet – each year! I expect this beauty to be very tall, but with a somewhat narrow form, although once the branches weep down to ground level, over time they should spread and create a dense bluish green ground cover.

Some of the bluish colored conifers that are on my list to look for are:
Abies koreana ‘Blauer Eskimo’
Cedrus deodara ‘Raywood’s Prostrate Dwarf’
Juniperus horizontalis ‘Blue Pygmy’
Picea englemannii ‘Jasper’
Picea glauca ‘Echiniformis’
Picea pungens ‘Pendula’
Picea pungens ‘The Blues’
Picea sitchensis ‘Silverzwerg’

May your gardens grow and flourish, bringing you and yours many years of peace and tranquility.

Conifer Lover

7 thoughts on “Baby, I need the blues

  1. My yellow Chamaecyparis are also stunning this year! You’ve got some great Blues in your list. You should check out Picea pungens ‘Ruby Teardrops’. What a sweetheart it is!


    1. YES! Great suggestion – I’ll have to look into the differences between ‘Ruby Teardrops’ and Picea pungens’Hermann Naue’ – they look very similar to me. Maybe Ruby is a tad more powder blue than Hermann?


      1. There was no grower listed on the tag. I hope it isn’t a “knock-off”, as we would call some counterfeits (do people do that?) Haven’t met Hermann yet!


  2. One of my favorite “blues” that I have in my garden is a Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar. It’s trained in a large “S” shape. Sometimes I just stare at it in wonderment.


    1. Ahh.. yes, Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’ can be such a fun tree. You know, you can continue shaping it by training its main leader or other branches with stakes and tie tape into any shape you desire. Have fun!


  3. Can you give me some advise on the care of Chamaeyparis obtuse “Verdoni”. Five of our trees are brown on the inside of the branches. Thank you.


    1. Hi Trinette, It is common for the inner branches of dwarf conifers to become brown. Not being able to see your specific trees, I cannot begin to guess if what your trees are experiencing is normal or not. May I recommend that you take pictures to your local independent garden center. They should have someone on staff that would be able to give you wise advice. You may also like to visit the Conifer forum at The Garden Web (link in the right margin). There are lots of very helpful folks there.


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