Dwarf Redwoods

I mentioned recently that Redwoods are perhaps my favorite trees. It’s so hard a make a definitive judgement about something like and absolute like a Favorite, but I’ll make an exception for these remarkable trees. There are only 2 species of what we think of as Redwoods, tho there is also the Metasequoia that I profiled recently in another post (https://gardeningingreenwood.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/metasequoia-in-training/) but here I’m focusing on the 2 that most folks think of when they think of the Redwoods – the Coast and the Giant.

Unfortunately I don’t have anywhere enough room to grow either of these trees in their natural states, so instead I’ve planted a couple of dwarf forms of the two of them and I’d like to show how they’ve grown for me over the last few years. Both are unique and interesting and much smaller than their parents, which are the tallest and biggest trees in the world, tho some ancient Douglas Firs may be taller as some recent fossils have shown.

So here’s the first one: A dwarf form of Sequoiadendron giganteum called “Pendula”. The species gets to over 300 feet and 30 feet across but this gem only grows to 35 or 40 feet tall. Still a large tree but nothing like its parent. It weeps too but still has the distinctive needle arrangement that the regular tree has. It just grows all over the place as it shift and bends. I’ve staked mine up to give room for the path on one side of it but it’s now wanting to bend and twist as they do at its upper reaches so this year will be interesting.

I’ve arranged the photos here as I’ve done before – from when they were little to how they are today, just a week ago. I’ve had to stake and tie this one for a few years so I can get to that path, but now I’m letting it grow. In just 4 years it’s gone from about 4 feet to over 14 I’m guessing. It grows as fast as its parent does. Both species here grow very fast and make majestic cathedrals of their groves.

In fact the Giant Sequoias were only an hour from my home growing up so I got to see them often and they were my first Temples and haven from the world to stand in and were full of grandeur and majesty. I’ve never forgotten those early visits to their sanctuaries and I’m so glad that they turned out to be lousy timber trees that split when they were cut down so that we still have some of them to us to appreciate and enjoy.

They’re incredible treasures and I just saw them again in 2012 on a visit home. We tried to visit the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite but it was full so we found some in the King’s Canyon National Park and I got to show Louie what they look like. He was pretty impressed I have to say.

They’re so Huge and full of wisdom you can just tell. These trees were alive 2 thousand years ago and what stories they could tell I’m sure, tho they’d probably be both bucolic and wild, telling stories of fires and wind and rain that ravages and nurtures the forest. They are archives of this information if we only knew how to read it. Maybe someday we will.

The next 9 shots are of a dwarf form of the Coast Redwood, the Sequoia sempervirens, called “Kelly’s Prostrate”. It only grows to about 12 inches tall they say and 4 feet across. Quite a change from a 365 foot tree in its native ranges. This plant was pretty big when I got it and it it’s grown so much that it’s reached both those sizes and more. It’s going to be quite large in time, since it is already.

In the second picture you can see how it burned the winter of the second year we had it. It just got too cold and wasn’t acclimated here well yet I guess. Since then it has acclimated and this year we had weather in the teens and it didn’t affect it adversely. Its foliage is the same as the species and is fluffy and soft. One friend of mine even likened it to a fern when he first saw it. It does look like a huge fern I guess because it’s so lacy and fine in its growth.

I planted many of these in my landscaping business over the years. I suspect some of them will get rather large for where I put them as I’ve learned more about how to do a good job of placement but most of them are growing in good spots to be fine as they are, I hope.

The ones I planted for my folks 45 years ago have been cut down so I can’t see how big they’ve gotten, but a neighbor has one I planted 30 years ago that is 50 feet tall or more now. They grow Fast! And it pays to start with young trees, because they will tend to catch up with taller ones in few years so I did that with the ones I planted. It’s true of many other plants as well.

These trees are still threatened in their natural habitat. I’m not closely in touch with their current plight I’m sad to say but I know that they still log them and I think it’s horrible. To log Old Growth trees is a crime to me personally and I think it should be a criminal offense.I”m sorta hardline I guess in some ways when it comes to my favorite trees.

These trees have so outlived anything we can dream of it’s cruel to end their lives just so we can have their fine wood. They’re worth far more as trees than as wood. Just my opinion but I feel it strongly. I so admire the folks who have worked to save the Redwoods.

We need these incredible trees as part of our Natural Heritage and I hope that people learn to respect them and their histories and give them a chance of survival. We lose so many species every day it’s terrible and we mustn’t lose these.

I hope that if you haven’t seen these trees you get the chance to do so someday. It’s worth the trip to sunny California to do it if you can. I hope they’re there for many years to come, and that we are too, to be able to see and admire them.

Appreciating Nature is one of my Jobs I believe and I try to promote trees and plants in any way I can, even tho I may bore some of my friends I guess… I can’t seem to help myself. I just feel so connected with plants and with these particular specimens I’ve shown you here today. I’m a Tree Faerie at heart and always will be!

I can’t fit the Big Trees in my garden but I’m so grateful to have these smaller specimens of their wondrous glory. They give me the”feel” of the Redwoods without their huge sizes and I still have them in my yard. It makes me so happy to visit them every day to see how they’re doing. What a a joy it is to grow dwarf conifers!

Long live the Redwoods!


13 responses to this post.

  1. 2000 yrs old + the stories they could tell if we only could read them + maybe someday we will—-I bet you are right:-) I did visit the redwood forest as a young person, and boy was it something to see! I agree we need to not cut them down and let the old trees live. It should be a crime!” I’m a Tree Faerie at heart and always will be!”..sometimes I picture myself an elf or one of the “wee folk” living at the base of one of these old trees with my front door open to the wonderful forest to wander and play…..I just LOVED this post!:-)



    • Thank you! I’m so glad you got to see the Redwoods when you were young. I’ll bet they made quite an impression! And I love your imagery of living as an elf at the base of one these trees. I built a cabin on my land with a large Douglas fir as one corner post and every time the wind blows the cabin creaks and groans. It’s wonderful!
      All the best to you Robbie,



  2. About how big is your backyard? I keep thinking I’ve seen it all and then you show us something new. lol
    It seems so wasteful to see backyards with just a bunch of grass……waiting to be mowed.



    • What a great comment! Actually, we have a whopping 1/8 of an acre overall – a small city lot in other words. Much of it is taken up with the house and, yes, lawn, and the veggie garden, and the rest is my little botanical garden, where the dwarf plants rule. It just seems so big in my own mind that I talk about it that way! It’s all about perception. 🙂
      Thanks for the visit!



  3. These amazing trees you speak of are one of the things I need to see (along with your garden) on a trip of the West coast which is on my list of things to do one day. I love the dwarf varieties in your garden! They are not hardy enough for mine but I have already planted probably one too many trees! Loved seeing how they have grown for you – what beautiful high points in your garden!



    • You’ll love the Redwoods when you get to visit them. And of course you’d be Very welcome to visit my tiny space. 😉 I love sharing the garden with others. And the dwarfs add a whole different look and feel to it. I would agree that some of them are probably not hardy enough for you but some of them might be, like the spruces and firs and some of the chamaecyparis species. I know the feeling of not having enough room for more trees too. It’s why I plant dwarfs!
      Thank you for your visit. It’s great to see your garden too!



  4. What lovely sequences of these people, especially that tall hairy dancing one, who joyfully grows. You are a Friend to the deva of the Redwood, whether large or small. There is so much of these relationships which is beyond visible, and crosses the land.

    It so happens that an old friend of mine celebrated his 76th birthday at the weekend, co-incident with your post. He is bi polar, and what is his name? Redwood, from Illinois! But he doesn’t do email, so I cannot send it to him.



    • I love your comment about the “tall hairy dancing one, who joyfully grows”. It describes these trees so well. Mine is about to start it’s dance soon I suspect, when it begins to move this year. It’ll be interesting to see what it does. I’ve always been in touch with the plant devas in my own ways and have “talked” to my plants forever. It’s just natural to me to say to them how much their beauty amazes me. It may be invisible but it does cross the land as you say and I “feel” the Redwoods even a 1000 miles away from them. I congratulate your friend Redwood on his 76th birthday! That’s wonderful. I wish I could meet him. I’m sure we’d have some good words to share… 😉
      All the best to you, and thanks for visiting…



  5. I need to visit you–your garden–in person. 🙂



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