Once upon a time, a few years before I was born, a seedling of Douglas Fir emerged from the ground several feet away from the garden shed of my boyhood home. By the time I was seven or eight years old, I discovered it had grown tall and broad and dense enough that I could manuever myself between it, the garden shed, and the fence to find a pretty nice little “house.” I can remember taking an old blanket there to sit on and some books to read. It also became a prime hiding spot for a good game of Hide and Seek.
These days, as my interest in conifers has matured into more cultured forms, I’ve found another great “tree house.” Tsuga canadensis ‘Pendula’ can become a fantastic private retreat or whimsical garden playhouse for the kids or grandkids. Its dark green, flat needles cover layer after layer of flexible weeping branches which work together to shed water quite well. The branches can be trained up and out to create a broad roof and then allowed to droop naturally filling in the walls. Doors and even windows may then be sculpted using simple pruning shears and some garden tie tape or string. Not a fast grower like the Douglas fir of my youth, but with some patience and a little creative cultural care, the Weeping Canadian Hemlock can make a great living treehouse.
Hardy into Zone 4, rich dark green needles, soft to the touch, and flexible enough to train into almost any shape (and great fun for the kids), I definately place Tsuga canadensis ‘Pendula’ near the top of my list of favorite conifers.
Thanks to my friends at Iseli for the photo links!