Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Squarrosa' - Sawara cypress ’Squarrosa’

 The Sawara cypress is almost completely unknown to the general public though it has been grown in Finland since the early 1900s. It is a popular garden tree in its native Japan where, over the centuries, a huge range of selected forms has been produced. Some of these retain their juvenile needle form of foliage, like this ‘Squarrosa’ variety. It so confused western botanists that at first it was ascribed to its own genus Retinospora. Normally the cypresses have scale-like leaves, like the thujas, or arborvitae.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana - Lawson cypress

The endangered Lawson cypress occurs naturally only in the valleys of the Klamath Mountains on the borders of Oregon and California. It is a heavyweight among trees, as it can grow to 70 metres tall and 4 metres in diameter. The oldest living specimen is said to be over 1800 years old. The species is now threatened by a fungus, Phytophtora lateralis, which has apparently spread through human agency into the tree’s last outposts. It has no resistance to this fungus, which spreads through the roots, and the infected tree slowly dies.

Cupressus nootkatensis - Alaska cedar, Nootka cypress

The Nootka cypress with its long sweeping branches and drooping foliage is the exact opposite in appearance to the Mediterranean cypress (Cupressus sempervirens). The dense blue-green foliage almost completely hides the beautiful cinnamon-coloured bark, which peels from the trunk in long strands. On hot days, the trees give off a strong smell, sometimes described as “like a pencil”.