There is something captivating about miniature evergreens. They have such ‘presence’, and their tiny stature, combined with a look of maturity, is instantly attractive. They are perfect decorations for the garden, no matter what size your yard is, and they are equally useful in containers and planters, where their special charm can be fully appreciated. Slender, upright forms are especially attractive, and while there are many, Ellwood’s Pillar Lawson Cypress stands out from the crowd, for its particular neatness and beauty, its rich, deep-green foliage and its dense, upright branching.
Ellwood’s Pillar Lawson Cypress is a miniature tree that grows around 3 inches a year, reaching no more than 3 feet in height after ten years, with a width of around 8 inches – a slender column of deep blue-green. In time it may reach 5 feet or so, and expand to as much as 15 inches, always staying slender and beautiful. The foliage is needle-like, giving the plant a dense texture, and adding to its beauty. The color is not the silver-blue of, say, blue spruce, but a deep jade green with a silvery tone, giving a rich and darker coloring to the plant, in keeping with its mature look. The branches grow absolutely vertical and upright, keeping a tight, richly-textured appearance, with a very neat finish, and trimming is certainly never needed or desirable. The older this plant grows the denser and more solid it becomes, and mature plants have a wonderful ‘specimen’ look.
Grow Ellwood’s Pillar Lawson Cypress as an eye-catching specimen in a prime spot in your garden, where it can be seen and admired. It is perfect for planting in a rock garden, or in small beds, perhaps in a courtyard garden. Plant it beside a path, or on a raised area, where it will be seen and admired. Use it as the centerpiece in a box or pot, with annual flowers around it, or add it to a mixed box of smaller shrubs, to give some height and interest in winter, when flowering shrubs are leafless and bare.
A wonderful way to grow these special miniature plants is in a large trough or planter box. It doesn’t need to be very deep – 8 to 12 inches of depth is plenty, and with a little care it could be just 6 inches deep. Make sure your box has drainage holes and fill it with a well-drained potting soil – those for cactus and succulents usually work well. You can use pieces of rock to build up levels in the box, like a miniature mountain, and cover the soil surface after planting with stones and gravel. Use a selection of small conifers and other small plants, choosing different shapes and sizes, and this little garden will give you pleasure for years, as the plants grow and mature.
Ellwood’s Pillar Lawson Cypress grows best in middle zones, from zone 5 to 7, although it will grow in zone 8 in areas where summers are not very humid. It should be planted in full sun, to keep the growth very dense, but it will tolerate a little light shade for a couple of hours a day. Well-drained soil is important, but it can be of almost any type, either acid or alkaline, and light, sandy soil, but avoid heavier clay soils, which usually hold too much water. Sloping ground is a good choice, since it drains well, and don’t plant it in a low-lying area, or in a hollow. Once established it is moderately drought resistant, but extended hot, very dry weather can mean some extra watering is needed. It is normally free of pests and diseases, and it tolerates a little salt too, so coastal gardens are good locations for it.
Ellwood’s Pillar Lawson Cypress is a special form of the Lawson cypress, Chamaecyparis lawsoniana. It grows in the north-west, in Oregon and California, and this large tree can reach 200 feet, with a straight trunk towering into the sky. It grows from the coast up into the high mountains, and it was first noted by plant explorers in the 19th century. A nursery from Edinburgh, Scotland, called Lawson & Son sent collectors to America, and this tree was brought back to England by them. It was found near Port Orford, in Oregon, so it is also sometimes called the Port Orford Cypress.
The wild tree is too large for most gardens, and so unusual small forms were soon found among seedlings, and as unique branches on larger trees. In 1915 the head gardener at a large home with a famous garden called Swanmore Park, in Bishop’s Waltham, in England, found a unique seedling, with very compact growth. His name was G. Ellwood, and the plant was called ‘Ellwoodii’, after him. Several different forms were developed from that seedling in later years, including one that was even smaller, with an extremely narrow form, which was named ‘Ellwood’s Pillar’. This plant has been carefully preserved by growing it from selected stem cuttings to keep its precise form – seedlings would have no resemblance at all to it. The demand for these unique plants is always high, and we have only a limited supply, so order right away, because our stock will be gone very soon.