Raising Taxus

I think this year I have seen more discussion on the subject of taxes than any in recent history. We have a new administration voted in with the promise of “Hope” and “Change”. As April 15 draws nearer (tax day in the USA), there are a lot of Americans who are hoping to get to keep some of their change. Whatever your perspective on the new administration, and the changes to the tax code, one thing I am fairly confident in, is gold.

Perhaps investing in our gardens during slow economic times is a great investment too. As we spend time in the garden, we work our muscles and respiratory systems which help to reduce stress. Gardening helps us to invest in our future happiness by providing us with a very pleasant place to entertain and relax – or even provide food to help us cut costs. Investing in gold for the garden is a great way to add interest and excitement and using gold conifers is the way to add bright color to your garden all year-round. 

Taxus cuspidata Nana Aurescens
Taxus cuspidata 'Nana Aurescens'

This year, I am pleased that I will be raising Taxus in my garden; specifically, Taxus cuspidata ‘Nana Aurescens’. This is an incredibly useful plant with its low spreading habit and bright gold foliage color, Zone 4 hardiness and being somewhat deer resistant. On a dark, dreary, cloudy, rainy day like today, ‘Nana Aurescens’ glows in the garden providing such an outstanding sunny-yellow color that you almost feel warmer just looking at it. A compact grower, it responds well to shearing if you are so inclined, but with thoughtful planning before planting, it shouldn’t outgrow its space for many, many years.

In my book, unlike raising taxes, raising Taxus is a very good thing.

Conifer Lover

Time for Taxus

I have yet to meet a taxpayer who derives any joy from paying taxes. Most enjoy the benefits that we as a society receive from the well thought out use of those tax dollars such as road repair and maintenance, police and fire protection, education, etc. On the other hand, I have yet to meet anyone who does not enjoy Taxus in the garden. The Yew has many species, one of which (T. brevifolia), has become quite newsworthy in recent years due to its use in the production of Taxol, a chemotherapeutic drug useful in fighting some forms of cancer.

Yews have been used in the garden for thousands of years with early writing describing their use in the ancient gardens of Rome for the creation of topiary. In fact, the term topiary originates from the word topiarius which essentially meant, “the finest of slaves” since only the finest, most trusted slaves would be allowed to labor in the gardens of the wealthy elite. Today, Taxus remains an excellent garden plant that is very suitable for topiary. Taxus cuspidata ‘Dwarf Bright Gold’ is an intermediate grower with an annual expansion of growth reaching 6 to 12″ per year.

Taxus cuspidata 'Dwarf Bright Gold'

Of course, I tend to prefer dwarf or miniature conifers, but those with outstanding color will always catch my attention. In full sun, the color of the bright golden yellow foliage is intense – one of the brightest conifers you may ever see. Grown in shade, the gold coloration becomes banded and certainly less extreme yet still adds nice color and can really brighten up a shady to semi-shady space.

My ‘Dwarf Bright Gold’ is growing so that its intense color contrasts with the dark brick-red of my house as a foundation planting. Others will enjoy it as a border specimen playing off the greens and blues of other conifers, reds of Japanese Maples, or the rainbow of colors of perennial flowers and grasses.

Taxus cuspidata ‘Dwarf Bright Gold’ is an elegant plant that is soft to the touch, easy to prune to maintain size or create topiary, hardy to Zone 4, has eye-catching color, and it will never audit your past returns!

Conifer Lover

Thanks to my friends at Iseli Nursery for the links!