November 25, 2008

Cryptomeria Japonica: An Evergreen Conifer

By Freda Cameron

One of the best evergreen trees in my garden is cryptomeria japonica. There are many varieties of cryptomeria, ranging in size from a small shrub to a towering 30 foot tall tree. Those grown in the wild may reach 80 feet high and 20 feet wide. There is a mid-sized 'Jindai Sugi' that makes a wonderful screening tree at 12 feet x 8 feet. I also have three very slow-growing, cryptomeria japonica 'Black Dragon' located in the fragrance garden. The 'Black Dragon' grows slowly to 7 feet high and 8 feet wide.

These Japanese cedars are reliably deer resistant, with only a few branch tips sampled during the winter months. Cryptomeria are suitable for zones 5-9 and are relatively drought tolerant, once established. If you plant any of these conifers, they like full to part-sun in rich soil.

I tried the shrub sized 'Globosa Nana' at the top of the slope in my perennial garden. Every perennial that was planted downhill, within 3-4 feet from these little cryptomeria, died. I had to remove the shrubs from the perennial garden, digging out and replacing the soil in that area. I've not had a problem growing perennials, ornamental grasses and shrubs around the large cryptomeria trees.

Carex 'Gold Fountains' and other gold foliaged plants and shrubs make bright companions for dark green cryptomeria. The trees provide a year-round privacy screen for our waterfall patio.

Note about "going green" in our climate: In general, an acre of hardwood forest will absorb about one ton of carbon per year. However, an acre of evergreen conifers will absorb about 1 1/2 tons of carbon per year from carbon dioxide.

Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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