Have you ever seen some hedge rows after a big snowfall? They will often look a little like an octopus after an undersea bar room brawl. Branches layed out this way and that due to the heavy load of the snow. Then add the brownish / bronze winter color and you’ve got a hedge that will not only require a tremendous amount of work to prune back into shape, but even when in good form will retain that winter color until the warming temps of spring wake it up and revive its green color. Surely there is a better alternative to that old garden standby, Thuja occidentalis ‘Pyramidalis’.
Fortunately, we are in luck, there is a superior introduction from Denmark that solves the problems described above. Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’ has beautiful glossy dark green foliage that remains green all year long. Not only that, but it has a more compact habit which makes it more resistant to “blowing out” in heavy snow loads. So, now we have an improved Arborvitae, but who outside of Denmark can pronounce it’s name?
Back in the early 1980’s, when my good friend Jean Iseli introduced me to the plant, he told me to, “begin with an ‘s’ sound, clear your throat and end with a solid ‘d'”. As it turns out, ‘Smaragd’ translates to “Emerald,” describing its year-round color, so we will often find it labeled, Emerald Green Arborvitae in our local garden centers.
Whichever name you prefer; if you are looking for a hardy, good-natured tree for a hedge, to flank the driveway or as a single specimen you should definitely consider ‘Smaragd.’