The lone voice of horticultural reason

Picea glauca ‘Rainbow’s End’

(pie-SEE-uh glaw-kuh)
Common Name: Rainbow’s End Spruce

Photo courtesy Bachman’s Nursery, Minneapolis

Brand new out of the box I planted a number of these this year, so let’s hope it works. Though it certainly should—this newest addition to the fabulous world of dwarf evergreens has been proven thoroughly hardy to USDA Zone 4, and has performed splendidly in trials across zones 4-8.

I saw a row of them at the wholesale yard in June, and was smitten. A beautiful, tight, pyramidal dwarf evergreen blazing with a topcoat of bright yellow needles, I mean, come on. The first flush of needles in spring is light green, contrasting with the dark green inner growth. The second flush produces bright yellow needles that hold their color well into summer, before turning dark green. Needle form is similar to the Dwarf Alberta Spruce, a very fine and delicate weave. Mature height is 6-7’ tall by 3’ wide.

Care and Use

 Pyramidal evergreens are invaluable to garden design. Line them up as a tight screen or hedge, then fly any deciduous shrubs or perennials in front that have blue, reddish or purple foliage, or any green leaf that’s bold. Small, slim, pyramidal evergreens with fine foliage are fun to slip in front of and around larger evergreens with broader forms and bolder needles. This is a great small tree for the foundation border as well, because you can plant it right up tight to the house. Pyramidals are nice markers, and can be used as singles announcing the entrance to a pathway, or used formally, one on each side.

‘Rainbow’s End’ prefers full sun to part shade. At least a solid four hours of midday sun is advised. Spruce in general are not terribly picky about soil, but it’s always a good idea to plant dwarf conifers in slightly acidic soil that has been amended with organic matter, and drains at a decent rate. A single application of organic granular fertilizer the first spring after planting and each spring thereafter should be all the fertilizer it needs. Don’t let the soil dry out in severe heat, and, as with all evergreens, moderate watering through fall is advised.

Don Engebretson
The Renegade Gardener