Alberta Spruce: A Humpty Dumpty Surprise!

A Humpty Dumpty Surprise

Remember in a previous post, Trying Out Some Succulents, where I discussed a certain Humpty Dumpty Alberta Spruce that my boyfriend wanted? If you would have asked me a week ago if I’d plant  this shrub in my yard, I would have laughed.  Well, despite my initial aversion, I caved.

about the humpty dumpty alberta spruce

First, let’s get the details on this odd little shrub.

  • Humpty Dumpty Alberta Spruce
  • Picea Glauca ‘Humpty Dumpty’
  • Dwarf evergreen
  • Hardy down to USDA Zone 3
  • Matures to roughly 2′ tall and 3′ wide
  • Prefers full sun
  • Adaptable to various soil conditions but grows best in rich, moist soil

Because this variety of Alberta Spruce prefers full sun, I chose a spot in our front yard not covered by the three trees we have up there.  That area gets at least six hours of sun everyday so it was perfect.

why now?

Note that, on this day, the weather was not being cooperative and it had done nothing but storm all weekend.  There were some serious internal debates on whether this surprise project was worth being out in the rain all day.

Now let me explain why I had to get this planted THIS day.  Andy works from home, making it extremely difficult to surprise him with house projects. On this particularly rainy Sunday, he was away volunteering at a golf tournament so I had one day to finish this gardening project!  Rain be damned!

Conveniently, I was able to center this project right in front of the extended part of the driveway where Andy parks his car, so there was no way he’d miss it when he got home.


Another, caveat I had to work with is the fact that I didn’t want to dig too deep into the ground. You know that, “Call Before You Dig” thing. Yeah, I didn’t have time for that  but I figured I would be okay as long as I didn’t go deeper than about  six inches.

My solution?

Raised bed!  I could give myself more depth if I used stone edgers.  I placed and replaced those bricks a million times before I was remotely satisfied with my result.  Then the mosquitoes started making an appearance and all of the sudden it looked fantastic!

Raised stone gardening bed

The final challenge I ran across was removing the grass from within the newly-formed planter. This is something I had never done so I will admit, I was winging it here.  I had been so concerned with sourcing the shrub that it didn’t occur to me to learn how to dig up grass! (No garden center in town seemed to have it – some hadn’t heard of it – and there were only two left at the Wilson Nurseries garden center in Frankfort.)

Also, if there is a better way to remove grass like this (or to do this whole process entirely), I’d LOVE to hear it.  I am sure this won’t be the last time I’m pulling up grass. (Sorry, Andy!)

I ended up using a spade to “cut” out the perimeter and a hand cultivator to loosen and dig out the grass.  It was a very effective process but definitely a workout!


I completely lack the ability to estimate soil or mulch needs for a space.  It’s disgraceful.  I left the garden center with three bags of soil and thought I didn’t have enough.

Turns out I only needed one bag.

Oh well.

In any case, here’s the final product and I still haven’t decided if I actually want to add some end-of-season annuals to spruce it up a bit. (Ha! See what I did there? – I know but it was a long week and I am super tired right now.)

Humpty Dumpty Alberta Spruce


Andy appeared pleasantly surprised when he got home later that night.  Let’s hope he maintains that positive attitude for any other garden surprises he comes home to!

Have you surprised a friend or loved one with a gardening gift?

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3 Replies to “Alberta Spruce: A Humpty Dumpty Surprise!”

  1. Kara, you are sooooo resourceful! I love your enthusiasm for your garden and for thinking of something unique for Andy.

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