Garden Lore

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.

Ralph Waldo Emerson Fortune of the Republic (1878)

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Alumii’

Natural layering

This tree reminds me of that old song (and this will date me) “Look there Daddy, do you see, there’s a horse in striped pyjamas” except that it is a tree wearing stiff petticoats and a frilly skirt. No that’s not what it is at all, that’s a fine example of what people call layering. The tree is Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Alumii’. Over time the weight of the lower branches must have dragged them to the ground where, left undisturbed, they have sprouted roots. While the original part of the tree looks a little thinner and paler with ageing, the skirt shows juvenile vigour. It is not common to see a tree layer so evenly all round.

The layers could have been cut off from the parent plant at an earlier stage, dug up and replanted elsewhere. Left to their own devices over time, the strongest growths will flourish at the expense of the weaker ones but there will be a thicket of Lawson Cypress.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission