Metasequoia in Training


This is a cultivar of the Dawn Redwood, or Metasequoia glyptostroboides, called “Miss Grace”.  As I understand the story, it was developed by Talon Bucholz in his nursery and he thought it was going to be a ground cover. One night his employees tied them all up into trees and that’s what they’ve become in the nursery trade now. A weeping Metasequoia instead of a ground cover.

I planted this tree in the winter of 2008 when it was only about 4 feet tall. It’s now over 8 feet and still growing, but I’ve had to work at it to get it that tall. If you click twice on this photo and look closely you can see the green ties at the top of the tree where I’ve trained the tips up to be straight up in the air. No weeping here, tho it was a lateral I tied up and it wanted to be level to the ground. I had different plans.

I’ve been training this tree up by tying up the laterals since I’ve had it and I’ve gained several feet of growth in that time because of it. I just tie up the tips Very carefully and let them grow. They seem to want to continue to weep tho, so I’ve had to go clear to the top of the tree to get it to stay as straight as it can and let it grow upright instead of weeping.

I’m not sure what would happen if I let it alone. I suspect it might build up on itself, in time anyway, but it’d be a much slower process and I’d have a very different tree. I like that it’s getting up to its supposed 10 foot height so fast. I suspect it may get even taller, but then I may have to train it up to do that and I don’t know how long I want to do this.

These trees are Very fast growing as you can see with this one. I dunno how well you can see the trunk on this but the base of it is a full two hands around and that amazes me. Up close this tree looks like something from some prehistoric time, which in fact it is. I love its aged look. It’s very evocative of old growth forests and almost hoary in its shape and character.

The Metasequoia was only discovered by modern man in the early 40’s in China in a wet valley where it rains all summer. But they seem to do fine here in Seattle where they don’t get much summer water from the sky. I’ve also grown them in central CA where they also thrive even in the abysmal heat and dryness there. I planted a species for my folks there and it’s huge now. They do like a lot of water.

They’re in the family of the Cupressaceae, the Cypress family, but it contains far more than cypress. It also holds the redwoods of California, and many other wonderful conifers. It’s a huge family and I have many of its representatives in my garden.

One of the things I love the most about this tree is how “pettable” it is when the leaves are on it. They’re very fine and lacy and look like a sheer version of the coast redwood, and feel like soft feathers when you brush them with your fingers. It’s really delightful.

Then in winter they start to develop their spring buds as soon as the leaves fall, so it always looks like it’s about to burst forth in new growth. It makes me happy to see it like this and I love the unique structure it has that you can see in the winter when it’s bare and lost its covering of leaves. You can see that structure well now.

Growing dwarf plants is a joy and a challenge if you want to keep them in their spots and yet allow them to get to the sizes they want to become. They usually grow so slowly that it takes them years to do this. But with a fast grower like this, and a few others, I have to take a hand in training them. I wrote about my Red Twig Dogwood recently and how I’ve trained it into a tree. I’ve done the same with other trees and plants.

This Metasequpia is one of my favorites in the garden and it has been for many years as a large tree. It’s so cool to be able to still have its beauty as a dwarf that will grow to a reasonable size for me. This is really my secret. Growing things that will fit where I put them and growing them with minimal training and adjustment with pruning is my goal, but it takes careful work to do it well.

I love that work. Helping the plants to grow to be themselves as much as possible is one of my chief joys in growing the garden. It’s such a pleasure to see things become themselves, just as it is with my fellow humans. We all become ourselves with the proper training and it’s as true with trees as with people. Good training when you’re young makes you a good person or a good plant.

It’s worth the time and energy it takes and I recommend it to you who have plants that need some assistance in their growing habits. You can change them some but you always have to do it in context with what a plant wants to be on its own or it won’t work. So follow the lead of the plant world and you’ll do well.

Happy Training to you,



6 responses to this post.

  1. What a fascinating character this tree is. Really lovely! I enjoyed your story with him.



  2. Enjoyed seeing the tree up close. And agree about the training of plants and animals. Must start when young.



    • I wish I was a better photographer. I can’t really do justice to this tree. But it still looks good with what I could get in this shot. Training plants when they’re young is so much easier than rehabilitating them when they get too big.
      Thanks for your visit!



  3. […] think of as Redwoods, tho there is also the Metasequoia that I profiled recently in another post ( but here I’m focusing on the 2 that most folks think of when they think of the Redwoods […]



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