A Gardening Journal

The Arch of Weeping Bald Cypress

Taxodium distichum Cascade Falls top of arch 020615 640

 

In Winter, my arch of weeping bald cypress looks like it's a just a prop—a temporary tie-in of grapevines to mark the passage from one garden to the next. But it's real twice over: Yes, there is a bald cypress that's so "weepy"—so double-jointed, as it were—that its branches can be strapped up onto almost anything. 

 

In the warm months, this informal arch is a froth of soft and supremely feathery bald cypress foliage. In the Winter, you can see how the arch is created by an easy partnership of willing tree and gardener—plus a simple way to make a training structure that is as durable as it is economical.

 

Taxodium distichum Cascade Falls arch 020615 640

 

In the picture below, you can see the slender trunk of one of the pair of Taxodium distichum 'Cascade Falls', tied to the rust-colored rebar that forms the arch. Although the straight species of bald cypress is ramrod straight, and is so sturdy it's famous for not being tipped over or broken apart even in hurricanes, branches of 'Cascade Falls' seem no stiffer than wet noodles. Just bend them into place and tie with clothesline. 

 

Taxodium distichum Cascade Falls side with Fagus grandifolia hedge 020615 640

 

The wild weepiness of the arch is a striking contrast to the massive block of the hedge of American beech. And wait until you see the contrast in the Summer, with the bald cypresses' tiny foliage alongside the beeches' huge pointed leaves.

 

There's no problem with tying as many stems as you can to the arch. Each will still produce plenty of weeping side branches, making your arch fuller and fluffier much faster than if you limited yourself to forming the structural "U" of just one trunk. In the picture below, the young stems are still so narrow and flexible that I've needed to tie them every foot or closer. Year by year, they'll thicken and become more self-supporting, so I can gradually reduce the ties' number.

 

Taxodium distichum Cascade Falls tie by tie 020615 640

 

You can count on 'Cascade Falls' to produce plenty of streamers, even from the stubs of branches that you might have cut off. These "falls" never run dry.

 

Taxodium distichum Cascade Falls side branches weep strongly 020615 640

 

Looking up to the sky from beneath the arch, the tree's irrepressibly wild growth habit is striking. Hanks of branches have been regularly tied across the crest of the arch, while countless new side branches spring outward and, soon, downward along the way. 

 

Taxodium distichum Cascade Falls arch looking up from beneath it 020615 640

 

'Cascade Falls' can be trained into almost any of the classic forms. In addition to arches, you may want to form the trees into standards or espaliers. Just stay comfortable with the quick appearance of new shaggy side growth. 'Cascade Falls' grows quickly and, while you can prune it at any time (see the quirky reasons why in the second "How to handle it" box, below), its speedy rebound from pruning is best celebrated instead of restrained. 

 

Here's how to grow this uniquely flexible—both physically and conceptually—conifer:

 

Latin Name

Taxodium distichum 'Cascade Falls'

Common Name

Weeping bald cypress.

Family

Cupressaceae, the Juniper and Cypress family.

What kind of plant is it?

Deciduous coniferous tree.

Hardiness

Zones 4 - 10. With such a wide range of hardiness, you could encounter Taxodium distichum from Montreal to Miami, Seattle to San Diego.   

Habit

Strongly pendulous. The habit is irregular, and varies individual to individual. Unless supported, 'Cascade Falls' is likely to form a mounding and wide-spreading groundcover, especially when young. You won't realize this at the nursery, though. Young plants are nearly always staked vertically, which simplifies handling while also making mass production much more space-efficient—but misleading that this plant's habit is primarily vertical, with just the side branches' being pendulous. Older plants are reported to produce branches that arch upward, bringing on a haystack profile. See the second "How to handle it" box, below, for options for training 'Cascade Falls' into specimens of radically different habits than that of the free-range beast.

Rate of Growth

Fast.

Size in ten years

Height and spread depend on location. Plants in warmer climates that also have longer growing seasons are going to put on more size in a year than those in short-season or unusually cold climates. 

 

Taxodium distichum can live for many centuries. One of the oldest known trees is about 1,600 years and counting, and trees of 500 years are not unusual. Because 'Cascade Falls' has only been around only for a couple of decades, its ultimate size isn't known. 'Cascade Falls' didn't receive a US patent until 2001 and, presumably, wasn't widely available before that. Even so, Dirr mentions a specimen that was twenty feet high in 2009. Without formative training, the width is likely to be as large or larger than the height.

 

If allowed to grow ad libitum, a young plant of modest size—say, in a three-gallon pot, staked up to four or five feet—could grow to a mound six to eight feet high and wide in ten years. The training options in the second "How to handle it" box will usually result in plants whose overall size is smaller still. 

Texture

When in leaf, feathery and—thanks to the quickly-ramifying branches—dense. Out of leaf, contrastingly bony and complex.

Grown for

its habit: Until 'Cascade Falls', Taxodium was available mostly in cultivars that were upright with degrees of dwarfness or narrowness or broadness, or in congested mounding dwarf forms derived from witches' brooms. 'Cascade Falls' is the first  cultivar whose branches are more than just droopy from an otherwise erect trunk. Unless staked, the entire tree forms a loose mounding groundcover, beginning to send up irregular arching branches that slowly form a large haystack only after a decade or two. A powerful and ramrod-vertical buttressed trunk may be one of the hallmarks of the straight species, but is completely lacking in 'Cascade Falls'. Although nearly always grown as a free-range oddity, 'Cascade Falls' is almost freakishly appropriate for most forms of training. See the second "How to handle it" box, below.

 

its self-reliance and cultural versatility: As is typical of the straight species, 'Cascade Falls' can handle almost any level of moisture except very dry, in any type of soil as long as its pH is neutral to acidic. With a broad hardiness range that is enhanced further by an even odder "double deciduous" growth habit—see details in the introduction of the second "How to handle it," below—'Cascade Falls' can be grown nearly coast to coast. Only areas with high pH soils would be a challenge and, even there, if you were willing to apply acidifying fertilizer ("Holly Tone", say), the tree would probably thrive.

Flowering season

As is typical for conifers, the flowers are apetalous quite small. They are only modestly showy. The rounded aqua-blue cones that follow are almost humorous in their appeal and oddity.

Color combinations

The light green leaves go with anything. The color of the Fall foliage is a striking orange. It might sway your choices toward nearby plants that would echo that but, for myself, I tend to be more forgiving about color harmonies in Fall. If it's colorful after hard frost, great! 

 

The round cones can be a surprising blue, but are not so numerous or enduring that this limits your choices for neighboring plants.

 

See "Plant partners," below, for options.

Plant partner

With the transitory exceptions of its orange Fall foliage and its (sometimes) blue cones, 'Cascade Falls' is either a study in feathery bright green foliage in Spring and Summer or, in Winter, a starkly bare complexity of curved branches. If the tree is to be viewed year-round, provide stimulating contexts for both the warm-weather foliage and the bare-in-cold-weather branches, and let the displays of cones and Fall foliage be what they may. My arch of 'Cascade Falls' is in an out-of-the-way part of the garden that isn't easily accessed in a snowy Winter. The dual contrasts of its curving, weeping geometry with the massive blocks of American beech hedge on either side, plus the textural shock of its feathery foliage alongside this beech species' unusually large leaves, vastly outweigh the spartan Winter monotones of a then-leafless arch flanked by the then-tawny-leaved blocks of clipped Fagus grandifolia.

 

In general, associate 'Cascade Falls' with plants that provide contrasts more of shape, scale, habit, and texture than color. And to the extent you encourage the free-formity of the Taxodium, also keep its surroundings all the simpler and expansive, with larger and larger groups of fewer and fewer kinds of plants. 

 

A 'Cascade Falls' sited where it could grow twenty feet wide and tall, then, is probably going to look like an advancing horde maurauding the surroundings—unless those have been laid out as spaciously from the get-go. Almost any context for similarly-sized "mounders" such as Cercidiphyllum japonicum 'Morioka Weeping', Fagus sylvatica 'Tortuosa', and Ulmus glabra 'Camperdownii' will also work with 'Cascade Falls'. 

 

Surround a young tree intended for free-range living with a thirty-foot "pond" of a sun- or shade-tolerant and, preferably, evergreen groundcover: A couple of dozen Cephalotaxus harringtonia 'Prostrata', say, or seven or ten Prunus laurocerasus 'Zabeliana'. Deciduous or herbaceous options that (in much larger quantities) can cover as much ground include Hosta 'Aphrodite', Pachysandra procumbensSarcococca hookeriana, Trachystemon orientalis, and Xanthorhiza simplicissima.   

 

Then consider a conspicuously tall and narrow accent, a campanile for your 'Cascade Falls' cathedral, as it were: A singleton—or, space allowing, trio—of Carpinus betulus 'Pinoccheo', Ilex x 'Dragon Lady' or 'Nelly R. Stevens', Liquidambar styraciflua 'Slender Silhouette', Magnolia 'Sunspire', Quercus palustris 'Green Pillar', or Thuja occidentalis 'DeGroot's Spire'. Gardeners in Zone 7 and warmer could experiment with the gold standard of evergreen columnar trees, Cupressus sempervirens 'Stricta'. 

 

At the back, for as long as space allows, plant a line of evergreen broadleaved hedge—Buxus sempervirens or Ilex opaca, saythat you can prune to geometric perfection. Or an espalier of anything large-leaved, such as Tilia cordata or Magnolia grandifora. This backdrop will be a success as long as its leaves are hitting any of these notes: big, broad, rounded, or smooth-edged.

 

If you train 'Cascade Falls' into any of the forms in the second 'How to handle it' box, below, its footprint and overall size can be small enough for even a compact garden. Plus, its reduced size is achieved through simpler shapes that elevate the bulk of stems and foliage above the ground. Whereas a free-range 'Cascade Falls' is just this side of a sideshow, a well-trained one is a graceful ensemble player. This newfound flexibility responds as well to the minimalist spatial/textural bravura of the free-range scenarios above, as to such detailed and even boisterous options as those below.

 

Because Taxodium has such tolerance for moisture, standards of 'Cascade Falls' could be underplanted with even the most moisture-craving of perennials. They might have large leaves, such as Colocasia, CrinumDeinanthe, DiphylleiaGlaucidiumRodgersia, Peltaphyllum, Petasites, and Podophyllum. Or they could have leaves of only normal size, but grow in dense and wide-spreading colonies, such as Lysimachia ciliata or clethroides

 

Taxodium is legendary for colonizing swamps. Like the straight species, couldn't a standard be grown in sites that are often soggy or even flooded? 'Cascade Falls' might be the unique tree whose standards can be grown aquatically. True, you might need to wear waders to do the pruning.

 

If you're growing a trained 'Cascade Falls' in conditions with normal moisture, consider nearby plantings of AlocasiaCrinumDigitalisHosta, Ilex, Rhapidophyllum, Rhododendron, Verbascum, or Yucca. Clematis typically requires plentiful soil moisture so, depending on the size of your 'Cascade Falls', you could give one of these vines the opportunity to climb through it. Remember that Taxodium prefers full sun, so choose a clematis whose growth will ornament the tree rather than overwhelm it. And because training always involves pruning, choose among Clematis that also welcome it: those in pruning group B (which can be pruned down to the lowest buds each Spring, or not) or C (which really should be pruned down to the lowest buds every Spring).  

Where to use it in your garden

The free-spirit wildness of a free-range 'Cascade Falls' demands that the tree be sited prominently, so that its irregular growth can be appreciated top to bottom. As is typical for trees with branches so pendulous they descend to the ground and then go exploring farther, it is difficult to underplant or front a natural-growth 'Cascade Falls' with anything other than a broad swathe of a comparatively low and uniform groundcover (see above), which will enhance the "Yup, this tree's on display" vibe. If you are blessed with a large patch of moss behind which you could plant your 'Cascade Falls', even better. If slabs of ledge seem to be erupting through the moss? Fantastic.

 

The dramatically interventionist training options on the second "How to handle it" box below make it possible for this otherwise hopelessly soloistic tree to become flexible in usage, not just flexible in its wood. In short, to become just one player of an ensemble, not just a stunt plant that, for better or worse, can only stick out. You might, for example, choose to allow only the top portion of a 'Cascade Falls' arch to produce weeping streamers, say, while the lower portions could arise through carefully-geometrized blocks of hedge. Or, depending on the height of its trunk, you could underplant a 'Cascade Falls' standard with a cottage-garden's diversity of ornamentals. And, as long as they allow room for the necessary training, a 'Cascade Falls' espalier's companion plants can be of almost any height and complexity; if you want even higher companions, just espalier all the higher at the back of them. 

Culture

Full sun and almost any soil whose pH is neutral to acidic. Taxodium thrives in saturated soil, and is one of the comparatively few trees to persist even in soil that is often submerged. It also thrives with only average moisture and, perhaps because of its tap root, is surprisingly drought tolerant. 

How to handle it: The Basics

Plant in Spring or Fall, ensuring enough water for establishment. Taxodium is tolerant of a wide range of conditions, so usually needs supplemental watering thereafter only if growing with a restricted root-run, which might be the case if this very-hardy tree were growing permanently in a container.

 

If growing free-range, formative or maintenance pruning isn't necessary—and, thanks to the tiny foliage, neither is any clean-up of fallen leaves.

How to handle it: Another option—or five!

As is typical for deciduous conifers (and there are at least  five genera of them: Taxodium, MetasequoiaLarix, Pseudolarix, and Glyptostrobus), 'Cascade Falls' accepts pruning readily. At least for Metasequoia and Taxodium, this is partly because of these trees' unusually broad interpretation of "deciduous." New branches are green; those that emerge in Spring have enough time to mature to brown—to become new Winter-hardy wood, in other words. They shed their leaves as usual in the Fall, then remain in place to develop a new crop of leaves as well as further stem growth the following Spring. But these deciduous conifers continue to form new branches all season long, and the later-emerging ones don't have enough time to mature from green to brown. No problem! They are shed right along with their leaves. The trees are therefore somewhat self-pruning by nature. It's more normal than usual, then, for them to produce new branches in response to pruning wrought by others.

 

But weeping trees are, as a whole, also more responsive to pruning. The tips of stems of plants with upright habit more-or-less inhibit the growth of tips farther down. But the tips of the stems of weeping plants—especially those as strongly pendulous as 'Cascade Falls'—are not only not higher than tips farther "up" the stems, they are a whole lot lower. Their ability to inhibit the "lower" stems' growth is just about zilch. (The head-scratcher here is how those stem tips continue to grow, because that growth puts them only lower and lower than most other tips. Why don't they become inhibited?) So the side buds all along the branches of a weeping tree are, at least comparatively, quite free to grow. And, indeed, 'Cascade Falls' is typical for a strongly weeping tree in maturing to a dense haystack of branches.

 

For both reasons, then—"double" deciduousity and a strongly weeping habit—the remaining stub of a branch of 'Cascade Falls' is likely to form side branches with surprising eagerness. And because the tree is plenty hardy (to Minneapolis and Montreal, remember), there's little danger that new growth formed in response even to Summer or later-season pruning will be Winter killed. The trees are already on top of that, too: New growth that is still juvenile is shed without qualm. So prune early, late, or often; lightly or (fairly) deeply: 'Cascade Falls' will be fine.

 

Compared to this tree's broad range of hardiness, its tolerance of vastly different amounts of moisture, and its eager response to almost any timing and degree of pruning, the flexibility of its wood—as exceptional as it is—seems like the least of its talents. Even so, that woody flexibility is often your main aid in training: Reposition branches however you want, tie them into place, and only then prune away anything that's still out of place. For all my bald cypress training, I use cotton-covered nylon clothesline, which is both protectively thick and economical. Let's see how both of these tactics—tying-in and pruning—enable formation of 'Cascade Falls' arches, standards, espaliers, and "edited" free-range specimens.

 

Arches: An arch is the simplest trick humans and 'Cascade Falls' can do together: Tie up as many of a starter plant's trailing stems as you want to the upward-and-over sweep of your frame's arch. Let as many new branches dangle outward and downward as you want, and clip back (or off) the rest. If the "streamers" grow long enough from the top portion of the arch, tie them back as you would a Victorian curtain of beads.

 

First, the frame. Remember that 'Cascade Falls' will always form a lot of new arching and pendulous stems, which can have irregular and wide-spreading trajectories. While it would be nice if the frame of your arch were fastidiously regular—or even a thing of beauty in itself—over the long run it doesn't really matter. The exuberant new growth will quickly obscure it. I made mine by pounding two straight ten-foot pieces of rebar into the ground, one at either point where my finished arch's legs will be. Then, I bent a twenty-foot length of rebar into a U shape (just by hand so, yes, its curvature was somewhat irregular), and tied each side of it to the anchoring rebar poles. The result may be rough, but it's sturdy and of nearly indefinite lifespan. The arch is about seven feet wide and nearly ten tall. There will always be plenty of pendulous branches hanging from the crest of your arch, so ten feet high isn't too high at all.

 

Plant a 'Cascade Falls' at the base of each side pole. Starting at the top of each plant, gather up the top few of the tree's many floppy branches and tie them loosely to the pole. Then move down six or eight inches, and tie this next lower "hank" of branches upward. (Yes, they will overlap much of the upper group, as will the their tie.) Continue downward to the bottom. Make your last tie firmer and "for real" and, then, go back up the tree, replacing all the loose ties with somewhat tighter "for real" ties. You'll need many fewer of them than you did in your preliminary top-to-bottom pass.

 

Go over the whole arch twice a year or so, with an eye to tying new upper growth ever higher up the arch and, as needed, redoing other ties so they allow for thickening branches, or incorporation of new side branches that now seem more helpful as up-the-arch structural members. When branches from one tree meet those of the other at the top of the arch, keep tying so that the branches of one tree cross over and amid those of the other. After they have lengthened along the frame's crest to the descending straight portion of the other leg, you could then let them grow freely downward.  

 

Through it all, don't hesitate to clip away side branches that are heading off in a discordant direction, or that aren't needed. There will be new ones to replace them soon. 

 

Standards: At the nursery, it's rare for 'Cascade Falls' to be grown to any size at all without being staked, lest the trees sprawl and, so, take up too much space and be susceptible to damage as they "prong" outward into the sales aisles or adjacent plants. And—again for space-efficient practicality, not artistry—the staking will be to a single trunk. Thus, almost any one you will buy is already on the road to becoming a standard. This might also be because 'Cascade Falls' was grafted atop understock that had some height in the first place. After planting, remove the nursery stake and replace with a taller as well as more durable training stake. Because the tendency of 'Cascade Falls' is to cascade, your standard is likely to sport somewhat of a skirt of new growth below what you'd prefer to be its dense, round head. Plan for this by training to what might otherwise be a higher-than-normal trunk. I'd recommend a goal of a minimum of four feet of clear trunk below the "head proper," and five or even six feet wouldn't be excessive. After all, the higher the head, the more room below it you have for the streamers, whose length and numbers you could control—"curate," as we say now—as a feature in themselves.

 

For reasons of unusual height as well as durability, I recommend using half-inch rebar or even five-eighths if you can find it. A ten-foot piece, driven two feet into the ground, provides for a five-foot trunk and a three-foot head. With confidence but not brutality, bend to the vertical the top-most stem of your starter plant. It's worth it to tie it closely to the stake—every six inches isn't too close—so that it becomes as straight as possible. As in the paragraph above, try to identify where 'Cascade Falls' was grafted atop the understock. It's fine to dramatically bend a length of growth that is entirely of 'Cascade Falls', but if you were to bend 'Cascade Falls' too suddenly or severely from its point of attachment to its Taxodium distichum understock, the two might sever. Fortunately, the difference in flexibility of a branch of 'Cascade Falls' compared to a branch (or trunk, if it's the understock) of the straight species will be striking: You'll know if you're bending just 'Cascade Falls' or not. 

 

Leave the remaining branches intact for now: The goal is that the trunk-to-be grows as high as you need, and these branches' foliage will provide greater horsepower to that end. Once the trunk is the height you need—to the top of the head-to-be, not just to the top of what will be exposed trunk below it—then prune its tip away to stimulate side branching. (True, side branching will be profuse anyway, so this gesture is as much to stop further upward growth.) Now's the time to prune away branches arising from what will be the exposed trunk; to minimize resprouts, leave as short a stub as possible.

 

As you clip ever upward to reveal the standard's intended trunk, you'll soon encounter the lower reaches of branches originating well up into the standard's head. Clip tips of those away as needed to begin giving a spherical shape to the head. The lower portion of a more typical standard's head is usually the more challenging, in that stems of a plant with upright habit will themselves try to grow upward. Standards formed of weeping subjects are at a double advantage: Even uppermost stems can hang low enough to help fill in at the bottom, while their ever-proliferating side stems will be only too happy to help further. Plus, the outward-then-downward arc of emerging stems often defines (more or less) the desired upper curve of the standard's head.

 

OK, then. With your standard now "roughed in," the rest is just a matter of grooming. First, check on ties holding the trunk to the permanent stake, and replace as needed to let the trunk thicken while also holding it straight. Eventually, the trunk will be able to support the standard, and so fewer and fewer ties will be needed. I recommend always keeping one or two in place (retying yearly) so that the standard is never in danger of listing overall, or being shorn by epic winds or ice accumulation. Next, do your most significant amount of pruning in Winter or early Spring, when the tree is leafless and its architecture is clear. As above, 'Cascade Falls' is almost uniquely OK with your doing "touch up" pruning any time during the growing season. 

 

Espaliers: Given that 'Cascade Falls can achieve twenty feet of growth even when freestanding, branches that are supported by some sort of frame may well be able to grow even longer. Somewhere, sometime, could there be an espaliered 'Cascade Falls' forty feet wide and, oh, sixteen feet high? I've mentioned options for building espalier frames before; for one option, read in the second "How to handle it" box for Tilia cordata 'Winter Orange'. Branches of 'Cascade Falls' are so flexible that it will probably be easier to tie diagonal bamboo poles to the espalier frame, and then tie the branches to the poles. Because the production of free-form side branches will always be enthusiastic, 'Cascade Falls' is best as an informal, fanned-out espalier. Create more tidy geometric schemes, such as a Belgian fence, with slower-growing subjects. (I've created my Belgian fence out of fancy forms of Fagus sylvatica.)

 

Tie branches to poles for as high and wide as your frame will allow; tie branches to the lower portion of the frame first, then use any additional branches (of which there will definitely be plenty) for higher up. Because the emerging side branches will be lengthy, irregular, and probably profuse, you won't need many arms to your espalier. If each is about two feet from its neighbors, that's probably close enough. Clip off side branches any time they seem to have become too much of a good thing or are arching out too far for your space. Even so, you would be right to infer that an espalier of 'Cascade Falls' will never be a slender thing. Allow a couple of feet on either side for projecting side growth—as well as a couple of feet more for your access: Inevitably, you'll have the yen to get in there and tidy it all up in, say, August, when any nearby vegetation will be at its tallest and most leaning-tower-of-Pisa-est. 

 

Selectively pruned free-range specimens: The goal here is to "ventilate" the maturing tree's canopy, which might otherwise become so dense and full to the ground that the branches' architecture would be largely obscured when the tree is in foliage. Because pruning usually stimulates plentiful new side branches, which could soon create unnaturally tight clumps of growth, you'll want to make only judicious cuts, and then follow-up quickly to snip off the resultant new stems. Every other Winter, study the tree with a quiet Zen mindframe, letting the pattern of the branches speak to you. Following this or that major limb from its start to the ends of its many branches, you'll probably realize that removing just one or two such limbs could solve everything by opening up helpful spaces throughout the canopy. It's easier to prevent a clump of new twigs from forming at just one or two such cuts, than from a dozen or more of them.

 

Grown year-round in a permanent container: 'Cascade Falls' is not just flexible on account of its wood's bizarre bendability. Like the straight species, this cultivar is very hardy. Just moved to Quebec City and wonder what will survive there? Start with Taxodium distichum in any of its forms, including 'Cascade Falls'. Because 'Cascade Falls' is easy to train and to prune, it can be kept at any desired size indefinitely. Combine that flexibility with its hardiness, and you have a great tree for growing year-round in a container. The only caveat would be the watering. Although Taxodium is so moisture-tolerant it will grow in standing water, the trees are so versatile that they tolerate normal soil and even occasional drought. But growing in a container year by year means that the tree will max out its root room. Take care to provide sufficient water so that vigor is maintained. By all means, do grow 'Cascade Falls' in containers—but also hook up an irrigation system.

Quirks and special cases

'Cascade Falls' is nothing but quirks. Enjoy the information in the boxes above and below.  

Downsides

None.

Variants

Taxodium provides a fast-broadening spectrum of delightful cultivars. More appear yearly, it seems, and are now available with habits from mounding and dwarf, to contorted and semi-dwarf, to upright but still dwarf (and with extra-dense foliage as well), to pendulous but full-size or ('Cascade Falls' in particular) weeping in full-on and full-size cascade. The foliage can be green, gold, variegated, or notably short and stubby.  

 

There's room in even the smallest full-sun garden for one of the dwarfs. I have a 'Cody's Feathers' grafted atop a quartet of five-foot trunks of Taxodium distichum, forming standards that mark a crossing of two of the garden's main paths. I won't allow their canopies to increase beyond three or four feet high and wide. I also have 'Cody's Feathers' as a foot-high shrub in one of my troughs; I'll prune it as needed to keep the entire "tree" smaller than two feet. And, although 'Cascade Falls' could mature at over twenty feet tall and wide if left to its own recognizance, when trained as an arch or a weeping standard, the tree's dramatic pendulous growth can be contained to just a few square feet of footprint.

 

At the other end of scale, no really large garden should pass up the opportunity to have a grove of one of the upright Taxodium versions, forming a living cathedral fifty to one hundred feet high. Whatever your beliefs, walking amid a group of such trees is a religious experience.

Availability

Online and at retailers.

Propagation

By grafting.

Native habitat

Taxodium distichum is native to coastal areas of eastern and southern United States, from Maryland to Texas. The species is also native to the Mississippi River valley from coastal Louisiana north to southern Missouri. The weeping Taxodium distichum that was later marketed as 'Cascade Falls' was discovered in New Zealand. It received a US patent in 2001.

 
 
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