Garden lighthouses

Looking around my garden the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that the most intense color in my conifers is yellow. I don’t think I’ve noticed it in the past. Sure, there have been one or two gold conifers that have really popped out this time of year, but not as many as I am seeing this year. I can’t explain it, but I sure can enjoy it!

All these bright yellow conifers – from large growers to intermediates, from those with traditional foliage to those with unusual characteristics, and even the miniatures – they look fantastic this early Spring amongst the blue and green spruce and other conifers as well as the fresh new red and pink and orange foliage of some of my Japanese Maples.

Three of the larger growing Hinoki Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) cultivars that are standing like lighthouses right now are Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Aurea,’ ‘Goldilocks’ and ‘Confucius.’ All three have their own unique growth rates, color intensity and overall texture. I am happy to have the space to grow all three in my garden.

Chamaecyparis obtusa Goldilocks
Chamaecyparis obtusa Goldilocks

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Aurea’ might be considered the “granddaddy” of the golden Hinokis. Introduced in 1860, this tree will become quite large with age and stands out with its golden yellow newer foliage. Older, shaded foliage will tend to turn a nice green color which contrasts well with the brighter new foliage. Rated with a annual growth rate of over 12 inches per year, ‘Aurea’ will become a stately tree in the garden.

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Goldilocks’ is a newer cultivar that is becoming more available in the local fine gardening centers. Also a large grower, ‘Goldilocks’ has intensely bright yellow foliage that reminds me of the Lemon Yellow crayon in the old Crayola 64 count box. A strong central trunk and very uniform branching habit make ‘Goldilocks’ an improved form when compared with ‘Aurea’ and it’s irregular branching when young.

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Confucius’ is an intermediate grower that will form a shorter, wider and more densely foliated plant than ‘Goldilocks’. If a smaller tree is desired with a brilliant yellow color, ‘Confucius’ is a real winner; one of the best golden yellow Hinokis to be sure.

Next time I’ll compare two fantastic yellow plants with unique textural characteristics – don’t miss it!

Conifer Lover

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