Sugi, Hinoki, and …

Sugi is the Japanese name for Cryptomeria japonica, the national tree of Japan. It’s also known mistakenly as Japanese Cedar or even Japanese Redwood for its similarity to our native Sequoias and Sequoiadendrons. They used to be related by family but things change in Taxonomy and now they’re in the Taxodiaceae and the redwoods are in the Cupressaceae – different families, but still retaining their similar looks. Sugi is used extensively in Japan for building and has been used for constructing Temples for centuries as has the Hinoki. There is a grand avenue of Sugi planted hundreds of years ago by a vassal to his lord that is 40 kilometers long and a true treasure of Japan.

There are over 200 different varieties of Sugi and as many Hinoki. I only have a few of each but there is such  diversity in just my few plants that I thought it might be nice to show them off. I arranged the Sugi more or less by height. The smallest ones first going up to the largest growing ones. The Tansu and Pygmaea only get a foot or so large while the Radicans can get to 45 feet in time according to my research. Frankly I’ve never seen a large one of this variety except online so when I planted it I took a chance that it would work out well. So far it’s great and has grown a foot and 1/2 just since June this year when I planted it… Wow.

The Vilmoriana is sorta in between some of the small ones. It gets around 3 ft overall and I’ve put it in a pot on the front porch to show off because it’s so beautiful and perfect in its growth habit. We got a nice pot that matches the house and trim and it looks like it belongs there when you come up the steps.

The Elegans is the next largest one and gets to 30 feet or more. It’s grown from a 14″ plant in 2009 to a 9ft tall beauty in just 4 years. I’ve had to stake the top as it wants to flop over a bit, which is apparently common with them on occasion. I hope mine stays straight this time tho. I can’t see training it upright 20 years from now, assuming I live that long…. I suspect I will since I just turned 63 on Monday… 😉

The Black Dragon gets to somewhere around 10-12 feet they say and I look forward to when it reaches that size and provides some more screening from the neighbors. And the Elegans Nana gets some 4-5 ft wide and not as tall and I’ll have to work just to keep it in its space as I don’t have quite as much room as I’d like in the heather bed where it’s located. But I have faith that the plants will all get along well with each other so I think it’ll be OK.

The Hinoki shows a full range of sizes and a bit of variation as well. The Nana is supposed to be the smallest one of them, growing to only a foot tall in many many years. After that is the Chrimen which may grow to 6 ft and 4ft wide in 10 or more years. It’s a unique looking plant that doesn’t even look much like a hinoki unless you look close. Very interesting I think. Next is the Nana Gracilis which grows to some 6-8 or more feet in time but it takes awhile.

The Nana Lutea is long gone but I wanted to show what it looked like at the time it was growing well. It just died for some unknown reason last year and I was sad to see it go. It has a golden cast to it in the sun and looked lovely. I miss it but at least I have my photos to keep it in  mind.

The full size species is at the end. It grows to 40 feet or more in gardens but much taller in the forests of Japan. This one I’m training up to be a specimen at the front of the house so it will provide a bit of enclosure when you enter the porch. It’s grown a lot in the last 4 years and is now above the porch rails whereas it started at only 3 ft tall.

The last row has a few different Chamecyparis. The first is Snow, a pisifera variety that the Royal Conifer Society says will only get to 16″ but other sites say it’ll get to 6 feet!! I hope not… I don’t have room for that. It’s so hard to get sizes from the web sometimes. You get all sorts of possibilities. I always average them out to get a sense of what I’m dealing with.

Next is a lawsoniana hybrid called Rimpelaar discovered recently. It’s a a cute little thing that will only grow to about a foot around and be a small ball with very interesting foliage. And finally there are a couple more lawson hybrids called Wissel’s Saguaro which are supposed to grow 8-15ft tall and 4 ft wide and will look like a Saguaro cactus with arms sticking out from it. It’s a new variety also and they really don’t know how big it’ll get so I’ll see how it goes over the years. They can get as big as they want to where they are so it’ll be OK.

So that’s a bit of a tour of some favorite conifer groups of mine. I’ll do one on bigger growing ones one of these days too. I have a bunch of them so I have a beautiful evergreen backdrop to my garden all year round even in the winter when the others lose their leaves. Conifers and evergreens are essential to a good landscape and we’re lucky to have them to provide us with winter cheer and enjoyment.

Hope you liked this tour!

Steve

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