My miniature container gardens have really come to life the past few weeks. All the dwarf and miniature conifers are pushing their new growth and the companion succulents and mini-heathers are performing admirably. Two of the hot spots in my containers right now are both miniature Hinoki Cypress cultivars selected for their bright gold foliage color and extremely slow growth rates.
Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Golden Sprite’ has been a favorite of mine for many years. This little nugget of gold has tiny foliage that slowly grows into an irregularly shaped mound that is broader than tall. At fifteen years old, my oldest specimen is nearly 10 inches across and approximately seven inches tall. The foliage is so tight that I can barely stick a finger into this plant. I love its unusual mounded shape – this one really has a lot of character.
Another golden nugget of conifer joy is Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Butter Ball’. At first glance, you might think it’s identical to ‘Golden Sprite’, but upon closer inspection you’ll find that it is a more open grower giving it a chance to “breathe” a little bit. The tiny foliage is more a lemon-yellow color and it is noticeably looser than that of ‘Golden Sprite’ suggesting a slightly faster growth rate. Mine is still quite young, and it will have many more years in its current container before I will need to become concerned with transplanting it into the garden.
Both these little golden nuggets are valuable additions to my container garden. As they mature, I look forward to placing them in my rock garden (which will give me an excuse to purchase a couple more small ones to re-plant into containers.)
I remember the first time I saw a conifer with twisted or contorted foliage. What a strangely appealing and unique plant it was. Today, I’ll share with you two of my favorite “twisted” conifers with yellow foliage.
Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Sunny Swirl’ is a selection discovered at Iseli Nursery. This special plant has the same twisted, contorted foliage as C.o. ‘Torulosa’ (its mother plant) but with yellow foliage. Its lack of chlorophyll probably accounts for its yellow color and its slower growth rate causing it to fall into border of the dwarf and intermediate categories of conifer growth rates. I love the texture this plant provides and its yellow color is a definite bonus. Growing in full sun intensifies the color, but ‘Sunny Swirl’ will tolerate some shade.
The second yellow conifer I’ll mention today also has tiny, twisted, cord-like foliage. Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Lemon Twist’ is a delightfully slow grower staying more compact than ‘Sunny Swirl’. This is a selection from Buchholz Nursery of a yellow sport originating on Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Tsatsumi’. Due to its small, rounded habit, ‘Lemon Twist’ is ideal for container gardens, patios, the rock garden and even table top gardens when a smaller plant is purchased in one of those cute 4″ pots available at the local fine garden center.
Both plants offer great texture and color to the garden however you may choose to use them. I have a ‘Sunny Swirl’ in my garden that is nearly 4 feet tall now and a couple little ‘Lemon Twist’s in containers on my patio.