Cupressus Cypresses

If the genus Chamaecyparis is called the false cypress, this must be termed the true cypress. It is, in fact, a quite distinct genus. Most species are columnar or conical in habit and have thin rounded leaves, one main central stem and a tap root. Usually of vigorous growth they do not transplant easily as older specimens and in fact are most successful when planted small and from containers. Some species and varieties are not reliably hardy in the British Isles.

Cupressus glabra was until recently more commonly known as C. arizonica. The variety usually listed as conica is most often used as a garden plant and makes an extremely attractive tree of blue grey. It could not be considered for a small garden as it grows in ten years 10 to 12 ft. and eventually may reach 60 ft.Cupressus glabra

Although the species C. macrocarpa is seldom planted these days because it has been to a large extent superseded by the much hardier and more useful hybrid Cupressocyparis leylandii, it has given rise to several golden forms ideal for garden use. One of the best must surely be Goldcrest which has bright yellow foliage the year round. This is quite vigorous and grows to 12 to 15 ft. in ten years and ultimately 40 ft. or more. All forms of C. macrocarpa seem to do well in seaside areas as far as withstanding salt spray but are not so good at withstanding strong winds.

Cupressocyparis leylandii The Leyland cypress must by now be one of the best-known conifers in England. It is a hybrid between Cupressus macrocarpa and Chamaecyparis nootkatensis and has been given the rapid growth of the former with some of the hardiness and more attractive habit of the latter. Although of fairly recent commercial introduction it is now widely used for screening and hedging for which purposes it is admirably suited. Because of its rapid growth and ultimate height, if left to its own devices, of nearly 100 ft., it will not stand being kept at a hedge height of under 8 ft. indefinitely. Even after ten years it will probably be in the region of 25 to 30 ft. — prodigious growth indeed and understandingly popular in this age of instant gardening!

The foliage is of a rich green during summer, dulling somewhat in winter. It transplants quite easily but plants under 3 ft. are more likely to become established quicker than larger specimens. As a hedge, plants should be spaced about 3 ft. apart and trimmed once or twice annually. It is not fussy as to soils and one would find it difficult to criticize this as a plant except to warn gardeners of planning before they plant.

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