Some dwarf conifers can lack character, especially if they are clipped into balls and other mounded shapes. Far better to let them grow naturally, and that is especially true of the Fernspray Gold Hinoki Cypress, a charming plant with arching branches covered in rich golden foliage. Every branch is an interplay of greens and golds – strongly gold towards the tips and in the youngest growth, then acid golden-green closer to the stems – and the whole effect is both dramatic and elegant. As the tree matures it becomes denser, while retaining a charming irregular profile that creates a unique specimen tree for many places in your garden.
Growing Fernspray Gold Hinoki Cypress Trees
The Fernspray Gold Hinoki Cypress is an upright evergreen with leaves of a rich golden color, most pronounced towards the tips, creating a dynamic color effect. It usually develops one or a few upright stems, with numerous side branches arching out – not weeping, but not rigidly upright either. The plant is dense and full, with numerous branches extending outside its profile, creating a relaxed but vibrant look.
This tree grows at a moderate rate, adding 6 to 8 inches of new growth a year, and in 10 years it will be at least 6 feet tall and about 3 feet wide. Like all dwarf conifers it continues to grow slowly throughout its life, and in 25 years it will probably be 12 feet tall, and 6 feet or more across. Allow enough room for its ultimate growth when planting – 10 years in a garden passes quickly.
Uses on Your Property
The Fernspray Gold Hinoki Cypress is the perfect plant to add interest and height to a collection of dwarf evergreens growing in a sunny bed. Mulch the soil with gravel and add some boulders for contrast, and you have a fabulous feature that needs almost no maintenance and yet matures and develops into an outstanding element in any garden. It will contrast beautifully with the rounded or spreading form of most other dwarf conifers. Grow a pair on either side of an entrance or doorway.
With its moderate height and slower growth, it will not outgrow the space or block windows, yet it has character and charm even from an early age. This is also an ideal plant to use in a large pot or planter box, where the unique form and color of the foliage can be fully appreciated. Place these pots on a terrace or patio, or on a driveway beside the entrance. Wherever you need something special and unique, the Fernspray Gold Hinoki Cypress is a top choice.
The Hinoki Cypress is a Japanese tree, so it is natural and appropriate to use this stunning plant in Asian-themed gardens, where the Fernspray Gold Hinoki Cypress really stands out. The form is casual and natural, and the color will give a lift to your garden without destroying the calmness and tranquility of it. In just a few years it will bring the perfect look to that corner of your courtyard, beside a pool, or contrasting with sprays of bamboo. Grow a fern at the base to create a subtle reference to its name, and to enhance the beauty of both plants. With its narrow form and height, it brings character without taking up room and it will never make even the smallest oriental corner look overplanted. It can also, of course, be turned into a real bonsai, and its natural habit makes it half-way there already.
Planting and Initial Care
The Fernspray Gold Hinoki Cypress grows best in full sun, and it will grow well in most garden soils, as long as they are not constantly wet. It grows without damage even in colder places in zone 4, as well as thriving in all but the hottest states. In colder areas a natural bronze sheen may develop over the foliage in winter, adding interest and disappearing again in spring. Once established it is moderately drought resistant, but summers in Japan are damp, and Japanese plants rarely have great resistance to dryness, so water regularly during the summer months for the best growth.
This tree has no significant pests or diseases. It should not be trimmed, as this will destroy its natural character. Its width can be controlled if needed by careful pruning in spring, before the new growth appears. Rather than cut off the ends, remove branches where they divide, leaving the shorter one in place. You can also thin out some branches for a more open, mature look, if you wish.
History and Origins of the Fernspray Gold Hinoki Cypress
The Hinoki Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) is also called the false cypress, because the fan-like sprays of foliage resemble that of true cypress trees. This tree is a large forest tree in Japan, often reaching over 100 feet tall. It is an important timber tree, and it is also held sacred in some Japanese religions. The Japanese collected and grew many dwarf and unusual forms in their gardens.
The form called ‘Fernspray Gold’ was first released to gardeners in 1970 by New Zealand’s oldest and largest nursery, Duncan and Davies Nursery, in New Plymouth. The plant may be derived from a variant branch on a much older plant, called ‘Tetragona Aurea’, which was introduced into England from Japan by the William Barrow Nursery, in 1870, as there are many similarities between these two plants. Whatever its precise origin, this wonderful tree is always in high demand for its unique character, and we have acquired some beautiful specimens. Collectors and lovers of the unusual will soon deplete our stock, so order now and enjoy something truly special, yet so easy to grow.