Monday, September 22, 2014

Blue is Cool®

Baby Blue Spruce
Blue is the favorite color among men and women in the U.S. and Europe. It is associated with harmony and infinity. Blue grows well with just about every other color in the garden. It is a cool color that recedes, unless it has a silvery edge to it, in which case it sparkles in the garden and creates a focal point.

One of Oregon’s finest wholesale growers, A & R Spada Farms, started the Blue is Cool® campaign to promote various forms of blue-needled conifers. The impetus was a new introduction to the trade: Baby Blue™ Spruce (Picea pungens var. Baby Blue). The first photo is of the Baby Blue spruce; it was about two feet tall when the nursery gave it to the OAN three or four years ago. It hasn’t been pruned nor has it had any supplemental water, yet it has a perfect shape and looks great! Baby Blue spruce is notable because it is grown from seed, not grafted like most other blue conifers. Heavy bud formation on the leader results in very compact growth and the needles grow out evenly around the branches giving it a very full appearance.

Sticking with conifers for a moment, there are dozens of blue-needled conifers worthy of consideration for small and moderately sized gardens (many of which are deer resistant), including Cedrus atlantica ‘Horstmann’, which has a narrow upright habit and icy blue needles; Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’, low-growing and mounding; and Abies pinsapo ‘Glauca’ with its layered branches and stiff, intensely powder blue colored, short needles. To see more blue conifers, click here for Peace of Mind Nursery’s “Blues Garden” photo gallery.
Cedrus atlantica 'Horstmann' Photo: Monrovia

Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star'
Abies pinsapo 'Glauca' Photo: Richie Steffen/Great Plant Picks
Pinus strobus 'Fastigiata' with blue needles and upright branching.
Pinus strobus x ayacahuite

Yucca rostrata ‘Sapphire Skies’ with its spikes of blue foliage (Sean Hogan, Cistus Nursery, used this plant in a rain water capture bio swale in a Portland commercial parking lot and it is thriving!), Agave, Dianthus, Euphorbia, and fescue grass also add blue points of interest in the garden. And we can’t forget all the beautiful blue-leaved hostas, the most diminutive of which may be ‘Blue Mouse Ears’.
Yucca rostrata 'Sapphire Skies' is planted in a bio swale in a commercial parking lot. Designed by Sean Hogan, Cistus Nursery.
Hosta 'Blue Mouse Ears' Photo: Sebright Gardens
Cool your heels – and the garden – with blue foliage plants. Blue will encourage you to linger in the garden a little while longer.

What’s your favorite blue foliage plant?

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