ARTICLE Patricia Moore
As the name suggests, thuja pyramidalis has a narrow pyramid or conical form when young and develops a columnar habit as it matures. After 10 years it will reach around 3, x 75cm. And while it can attain a height of 8 to 10 metres when fully grown, its compact growth habit makes it an ideal tree where space is limited and height is required.
Pyramidalis is originally from North America and does best here in a sunny or lightly shaded position. While it will grow in most soil types, it prefers moist well-drained soil. A big plus is that it’s tolerant in both hard frosts and coastal situations. The deep green, spray-like foliage develops bronze overtones in the cooler months.
Pyramidalis is a very formal tree that makes a perfect ‘guard of honour’ in driveways and traditional entrances. “However, the striking form and dense evergreen foliage also make it a great option for a small garden,” says Nichola Vague, landscape designer at Zones Landscaping Specialists. “It can even be grown in large pots and placed in the garden to make a moveable focal point. And you can create more of a statement by up-lighting the trees at night and repeating them through the design.”
Used as an accent tree, pyramidalis requires minimal pruning in late spring or early summer, and then only on new growth – keep the rules for pruning conifers in mind. Do not cut back to older brown stems as they won’t grow back – the advice is to always think twice and prune once!
There are a number of other thuja occidentalis cultivars which can be used to make a striking impression in a landscape design. These include smaragd, also known as emerald green cedar, one of the most popular conifers in Europe. Smaller growing than pyramidalis, smaragd is more forgiving when it comes to trimming and is a popular topiary plant that adapts well to container growing. Holmstrup, a cross between pyramidalis and smaragd that grows to around 3m x 1.5m; and degroots spire, a slower growing confier with foliage that may twist and layer, forming a narrow spire as it matures.
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