Monday, November 28, 2011

I’m Dreaming of a Blue (Atlas Cedar) Christmas…

I am obsessed, and that’s never a good thing. When it hits all reason seems to fly right out the window. Each year I get stuck on a different idea of what should constitute our Christmas tree. One year it was a Tree Fern (Dickonsonia Antarctica). Last year we simply had branches. And there’ve been many years when I’m happy with just the vintage aluminum tree. This year? I’m obsessed with having a Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus A ‘Glauca’). Of course these are not trees you regularly find in a tree lot, and if I did get that lucky I'm sure the price would be outrageous. So my obsession has grown so strong I’ve been shopping for potted trees. There is only one small catch. I have no place to plant one after the holiday is over. Maybe that’s more than a small catch? Still…I shop. Here’s a fun one! Wouldn’t this shape make an excellent alternative Christmas tree? Those branches would easily support my collection of vintage ornaments. It’s “only” $49.99, which really doesn’t seem bad, it’s in a huge pot! But that’s more than I should be spending on a tree…that I have no place to plant…that gets to be 60 ft by 30 ft (GULP). This one is more Christmas tree shaped; it’s a Cedrus A ‘Horstmann’… …and its semi dwarf! Could be easier to find a home for a tree only 10ft x 6ft…hell that could be tucked in just about anywhere! But still, it’s fifty bucks. If I were into this sort of thing I could get a contorted weeping variety… But I don’t like the look.

Oh! How ‘bout a Charlie Brown Christmas tree!!! The price is closer to what I should be spending at $16.99, but I’d really like something with a little more “presence.”

Another day, another nursery… Yes! That’s exactly what I want! And it’s in a much smaller pot (3.6 gal according to the tag). But it’s $79.99!!! More of that weeping business… Hey they’ve got some cut branches in a display! Maybe that means they’ve got a mature tree somewhere at the nursery they've cut branches from…maybe they’d sell me these… A wreath made of Atlas Cedar and Rose Hips, pretty and pricey (49.99). Oh my! They've got bunches of cut branches for sale!!! And they are only $8.99! I get the foliage look I want…and don’t have to find a place for a tree. And I spend less than $10, life is good! Now what will I do with them!

(**postscript, after I’d purchased my Blue Atlas Cedar branches, written and scheduled this post I found myself at Home Depot (we had a little plumbing problem...water leaking into a wall, never a good thing)…and I discovered trees for only $29.88, Big Ones. I can only imagine how different this post, and our holiday décor, would be if I had found these before I bought the cut branches. I wonder where our (going to be huge someday) $28.88 Christmas tree would have ended up after the holiday?).


  1. I love that idea...but you are probably right to err on the side of caution...(and practicality!) If I could fit one in, I'd dearly love one of those...the are such beauties...those glaucous blue needles are awesome.

  2. Hi Loree, I love that the nursery had branches for purchase. Your quandary is very familiar. If you're like me, eventually a new obsessions will replace the Blue Atlas one so if you don't get one, it will be okay. :)

  3. I love the solution you found! Glad you didn't have to figure out what to do with a tree that would eventually be too big for your garden.

  4. Hi there! I love the photo of your 'branch' tree. Your ideas regarding the Blue Atlas Cedar were so cute and responsible! The branches were a great idea! I have Blue Atlas 'Horstmann' and it grows faster than I thought... I am hoping it stays 8-10 ft and 4-5ft wide like the tag said! I'm sure you'll find a home somehow for your new blue tree...great post!

  5. I have always loved those blue Atlas Cedars. I tried hard to persuade the Mulchman to put a blue spruce in his Northwest territory, in fact, we did what you were considering; we bought a Picea pungens (Colorado Blue Spruce) and had it outside as our Christmas tree. But we ended up giving the tree away, because it just didn't fit in with the "NW native" theme and was a bit bristly for his liking long-term.

    You could always buy a cool blue tree, then plant it at your parents' garden in Spokane...don't they have a bit of room there?

  6. Our friends just this weekend gifted us a weeping Blue Atlas Cedar for our front yard. Mind telling us where you bought the branches? I want to copy you. :)

  7. I had my eye on one of those at Means, but then decided to go with the topiary frame as tree again this year. Boring repetition, I know...& I even have the room for it after Christmas duty is served. Maybe next year. I saw a full-grown one in an old garden and it was HUMUNGOUS.

  8. Such a pretty tree and you found a good happy medium. Congrats! I tend to 1) abandon all reason 2) buy the biggest one and 3) suffer through buyer's remorse.

    PS! If you need a home for that beauty after the holidays, I'll happily adopt it! :)

  9. Why doesn't some enterprising person open a pop-up Christmas tree lot for the holidays, with living, botanically diverse, gorgeous potted trees to satisfy even you, proceeds to charity, trees to be returned for replanting in city parks and/or arboreta after the holidays? I'd do it in a heart beat. I feel like something special this year too.

  10. Looks like it all worked out for the better, a couple nice branches will do the trick :)

    It might be for the best that you didn't find a tree that suits your needs as I find live Christmas trees survival rate is a bit of a 50/50. My grandmother buys them every year for Christmas and the warmth of the house dries them out, breaks dormancy, or something of the like because after Christmas she puts them outside and they more often then not have dieback or croak all together. Maybe too much of a shock from hot house to cold December weather, either way I don't think it leads to a happy tree. Great post, Monrovia is always the most expensive, and I often skip them for that reason.

  11. I look forward to seeing your decorated cut branches and am sure they'll be gorgeous. Still, I bet you could have found a home for a big tree after the holidays at a local school or park, or even offered up on Craigslist. Maybe next year!

  12. I figure if I wait til I'm between 65 and 70 to buy an Altas Cedar, I won't have to worry about the eventual size. Well, unless I decide to freeze myself..

  13. Now you have put an expensive idea into my head!
    I love blue abies trees. A few years ago I had an ordinary blue one as a Christmas tree in the nursery and adorned with small white candles and the heads of white lilies only - the way Thosmas Mann describes it in Buddenbrooks, his famous novel. A magnificent sight it was - and a very strong perfume!
    This year,however, due to you, I should like a tall and 'narrow' Atlas Cedar.
    Thank you for the idea
    and for a beautiful and inspiring

  14. One of our favourite "trees" was the huge rubber plant we were babysitting while a friend was renovating. I love Atlas blue cedars, too, and they're juuuuuuust borderline hardy in Toronto. You found a great buy with the branches, but you could always try espaliering one of those $28 trees as an experiment if you're tight for space.

  15. I can hear Elvis singing, "I'll have a blue Christmas without you." Cool idea & I'm sure, like everything you do, it'll be gorgeous!

  16. Tacky in TacomaNovember 29, 2011

    Maybe you could spray paint some of Clifford's leaves silver & make them into a tree. Probably wouldn't support ornaments very well.

  17. Glad you didn't buy it, including the big-cheap one at Home D*#*%, one designer to another! Someone with the space should...too bad more towns with parks don't have lists of appropriate trees they need, and residents can buy them for planting.

    Or you can just become an LA and specify all the plants you want for others, you don't have room for! Like I do, recently w/ pomegranates.

  18. scott, practicality...god I am getting old.

    Grace, oh yes...the obsession is always a changing thing for sure! too.

    igardendaily, so it sounds like you're predicting I will buy one? (I haven't yet...just the branches).

    MulchMaid, Oh that is a great idea! They do have room for sure. But if I'm trusting what I read then the Blue atlas is only hardy to zone 6, and Spokane is a 5. But this is an idea that I might fall back on in the future.

    Heather, nice gift! And sorry I meant to answer your inquiry yesterday...I got the branches at Cornell Farms. I'd never been there's actually pretty cool and not too far out. I'm posting about it today so come back in a bit for a tour!

    ricki, even I who have no good sense distance/measurements can read 60 x 30 as are so right.

    Kate, speaking of "buying the biggest one" I remember one year that my Christmas tree was so big that once it dried out and the branches were no longer "bendable" I couldn't get it back out the door of my apartment. Luckily I had really big windows and was only on the 2nd floor so out the window it went.

    Denise, another great idea...Nat's comment right after yours concerns me a bit, but at the very least a list of places to donate for planting could be made, I would think.

    Nat, this is just the kind of information that makes me feel better about not getting my dream tree, thank you!

    Pam, Craigslist is a fabulous idea!

    ks, now you're, a reason to look forward to being an elderly gardener!

    Jytte, you describe a very beautiful tree...and the fragrance must have been amazing! Thank you for the kind words.

    Helen, another great idea! I do love an experiment. And I love the idea of a rubber tree/Christmas tree.

    Peter, funny I was trying to decide whether to give the title nod to Elvis or the end I had to go with my hometown boy.

    Tacky, I bet it would support paper ornaments though...and I could have a lot of fun with that! Uhm...maybe next year.

    DD, I love it! "Why did you become a LA?"...because my garden ran out of space! I heard a nasty rumor once that your profession looked down on it's members who actually loved/knew about plants. Thanks for being a plant loving LA.

  19. What a great looking nursery. I could imagine spending a lot of time (and probably too much money) there if it was near us!

  20. Blue Atlas Cedar is my all time favorite conifer! I can gaze into its dreamy blue needles forever. I really, really want one, but haven't figured out where to put it (yet).

    P.S. Denise, you're a genius! Seems like something that would be successful in SF :)

  21. I purchased a blue atlas straight species two years as a fall discount item. I am currently training it into an oriental form, somewhat like bonsai. It is staked into a somewhat serpentine fashion similar to the pendulous forms. When the new growth appears I pinch it back 75%. We will see if I can control it's growth to "will" it into my small corner lot.

  22. One of my favorite trees, and yours was a very good price. I give my parents trees or shrubs every year for Christmas, and a blue Atlas was one of the first. The only one I could find had a huge bow in the trunk making it look like a giant letter "C". Thankfully it aged out of that shape and looks great now. My mom always uses pieces of it inside for Christmas deocrations.

  23. Thanks for the web site. All of a sudden, I must buy a Blue Atlas Cedar. The dwarf varity - Horstmann, seems ok. I think a bolder look might be a full size version, for my patio plant in a big pot. I'd buy a 5 gallon if i could find one. Great pictures too.

  24. When I saw the Home Depot pictures, I got excited.
    My H-Depot only mostly carries Redwoods.

  25. Hi,

    Would you mind if I post one of these photos on my website under a list of plants I am wanting to acquire? It is a personal blog, and I would add a credit link back to your site, of course. Thanks!

    1. Gosh no Brian I wouldn't mind at all, please do! I hope you find one soon.

    2. Thank you so much! I am really hoping our local Home Depot carries them this spring.


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