Vertical accents are an essential feature when arranging the plants in your garden. Sometimes you just need something a bit narrower than normal, but sometimes the right thing is a strong vertical plant that is tall and very narrow. These kinds of dramatic accents add a lot of movement and interest to your plant collection, as well as being exciting plants in themselves. The Weeping Alaskan Cedar is just such a plant – a very dramatic strong vertical that shoots up, just like an arrow, but also has weeping side shoots that add great beauty, and serve to accent the upward thrust even more – like the cascading sparks from a shooting rocket.
The Weeping Alaskan Cedar is an evergreen tree that will grow steadily, first to 10 feet, then to 20, and eventually to 30 feet tall and possibly more. It will do this within the width of just a few feet, making it ideal for a narrow space or a smaller garden, as well as a being a great feature in a larger one. While the main trunk is shooting upwards, the side branches are cascading downwards. Over time the lowest side-branches will spread outwards to form a wider base, up to 10 feet across. This broader base accentuates the narrow upper growth even more, looking like a powerful rocket-ship. If that is too wide for the space you have, then it is very easy to prune some of these lower side branches away when they are young, keeping a much narrower base to your tree. The foliage is a beautiful rich blue-green, and retains its gorgeous color throughout the winter.
As might be expected, since it has ‘Alaska’ in the name, this is a very hardy tree, thriving in zone 4, with winter lows around minus 30, and reported to grow well even in zone 3, with minus 40 temperatures. It also grows well in much warmer areas, all the way into the cooler parts of zone 8. So almost everywhere, you can enjoy this spectacular tree with no problems. It grows well in all kinds of soil, except for wet ones, and once established it is has moderate to good drought resistance, so within a few years of planting, your Weeping Alaskan Cedar will be taking care of itself, with no input from you needed at all. It grows well in sun or partial shade, and in zone 8 it will benefit from some afternoon shade, especially when young. It has no significant pests or diseases, and despite its dramatic and exotic appearance, this is a very easy plant to grow in almost any garden. It will grow around 12 inches a year, reaching at least 10 feet tall and 2 feet wide in 10 years. If any side-shoots are seen growing upwards, cut these off, right at the main stem, while they are still young.
The Alaskan cedar, also called yellow cedar and Nootka cypress, is a tree that grows wild in a long strip along the west coast, from southern Alaska, through British Columbia and down as far as the northern tip of California. In the north, it grows right down to sea-level and it is found higher and higher in the mountains as it spreads southwards. It is currently most correctly called Cupressus nootkatensis, but it is still often seen as Chamaecyparis nootkatensis, and also as Xanthocyparis nootkatensis. This plant and its relatives have had a lot of DNA analysis in recent years, and Cupressus is almost certainly the correct and final name that should be used.
There are several different weeping forms of this tree, but ‘Green Arrow’ is considered to be among the best. It has an interesting history. Gordon Bentham was an enthusiastic collector of rare and unusual conifers, who earned his living as a butcher at a supermarket in Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. He loved to trek through the forests looking for unusual pieces on wild trees, and one day he discovered a weeping branch on an Alaskan cedar. He collected some pieces, took them home, and grafted them to seedling trees. He gave some of these plants to a local nursery, which went bankrupt, so the plants just sat in the ground. He had told a friend, Talon Buchholz, of the Buchholz & Buchholz Nursery, Gaston, Oregon about these plants, and when George died, Talon travelled to the nursery to rescue the plants. His nursery then introduced it to others, and soon it became grown more widely, while still rare and a true collectors’ item. At the Tree Center, we have been able to find some beautiful specimens, carefully grafted from the original plants, and we are proud to offer them to our clients. These very special plant is of course completely different from any cheaper seedling trees of the wild tree, or from other inferior weeping forms.
This spectacular tree will make a dramatic feature in your garden, and its rarity means that our clients will quickly order it, so if you want to grow this plant – and who wouldn’t? – then order now and avoid disappointment.