Cypress (Cupressus) - Graceful evergreen trees, charming for backgrounds, but not many really hardy, save in seashore and in warm southern districts, and even there they often perish in hard winters. The Monterey Cypress is beautiful in Ireland and in the western coast gardens, but even there it perishes in hard winters. The beautiful Eastern Cypress, so fine in the Italian and Eastern landscape, is worth planting under the best conditions; so distinct a tree would, if hardy, have been everywhere planted long ago.
Large Natural Trees
Many know the beauty of a few of these trees in the small state, but few realise their dignity and beauty as forest trees, such as the Great Japanese Cypress, and if we take the trouble to grow and group them well there are no more effective trees in their perennial verdure. But the system of increasing them adopted in nurseries by which these trees, being very free in growth, lend themselves to increase from cuttings like verbenas and geraniums, does not help to the possession of the trees in all their dignity. Trees we should raise always in the natural way-i.e., from seed-and I find some of these cypresses and their allies break into a number of stems and lose the tree form, the result of this cutting propagation, so entirely needless in the case of forest trees of the highest beauty, which some of these are.
Cypress Tree Varieties
Chinese Funeral Cypress
Chinese Funeral Cypress (Cupressus Funebris) - A hardy, picturesque tree in its own country, and sometimes reaching a height of nearly 50 feet. Robert Fortune described it as having a beautiful effect in the Chinese landscape, but it is not hardy in England, though here and there it may be seen in sheltered and warm places.
Gowen Cypress (Cupressus Goweniana) - A low growing tree from the neighborhood of Monterey, in California, and of doubtful hardiness in England. It may be classed with a group, unhappily, many of them tender in this country. It is known from the Monterey Cypress by its spreading, slender, and pendulous habit and small cones.
Lawson Cypress (Cupressus Lawsoniana) - A tall and beautiful tree of the Pacific coast of N. America, 100 feet high, and very free in our climate. Owing to propagation from cuttings, instead of in the natural way from seed, the tree often breaks into a number of stems, which interferes with its natural habit and beauty. It varies very much into what are called "sports," and which are often a manifestation of disease, especially when they take the variegated form. There are a number of fastigiate forms, but they are mere malformations, and as they get old the branches are pressed so closely together that they die, unless we take the trouble to tie or wire them up in some way to prevent them falling about. The spreading varieties are not so liable to this, but many of them go back, as they get older, towards the natural form of tree of which they are mere states. For the pendulous ones there is perhaps a little excuse-for the globular ones none at all; and the multiplicity of Latin names for these varieties in catalogues does harm in weakening the interest in the natural tree.
Cedar of Goa
Cedar of Goa (Cupressus Lusitanica) - A name well known through books and lists, and a graceful tree of uncertain origin, but not succeeding in England, save in seashore gardens and very mild districts. It is naturalised in temperate countries like Spain and Portugal.
Monterey Cypress (Cupressus Macrocarpa) - A very graceful and often stately tree, much planted and succeeding well near the sea coast. It is described in catalogues and even in books on Forestry as hardy, but it is not so, perishing in severe winters. Like many other conifers, it has varieties of little value.
Yellow Cypress (Cupressus Nootkatensis) - Really a most distinct tree, and I think the most precious of the whole family for England, being quite hardy. It is a native of the N. Pacific coast and British Columbia, and has various synonyms and several variegated varieties of no value. I have found it to thrive in cold ordinary soils, and it is a pleasure to see it at all seasons. The English name of Yellow Cypress was given by the colonists of Vancouvers Island from the fresh wood being yellow in color.
Great Japanese Cypress
Great Japanese Cypress (Cupressus Obtusa) - A very beautiful evergreen tree of the mountains of Japan, better known in our gardens under the wrong name of Retinospora. It has many forms and so-called varieties which are really states of growth only, and which are nearly always grown in nurseries under the name of "Retinospora." The confusion of names in this plant and its varieties has caused its great value as a tree to be overlooked. It grows nearly 100 feet high, and is very handsome. In its own country it is much used to form avenues.
Peafruited Cypress (Cupressus Pisifera) - Here, as with C. obtusa, there is much confusion of names and giving of Latin ones to mere varieties and states of growth. It is a much smaller tree than the great Japanese Cypress, but a hardy and useful one. Syn. Retinospora.
Eastern Cypress (Cupressus Sempervirens) - One of the most graceful of all evergreen trees, giving distinct and good effects in many parts of the East and N. Africa, spreading into N. India also. In some N. Italian gardens it grows well over 100 feet, as in the Giusti Garden at Verona. In Algeria and Tunis I have seen it forming noble shelters for the orange gardens, far better than any clipped tree could do.
Southern White Cedar
Southern White Cedar (Cupressus Thyoides) - This is a tree of the N. American woods, sometimes reaching nearly 100 feet high in its best state, inhabiting wet places and swamps in New England, westward and southward, rather near the coast, and forming very dark woods. Coming from a very cold country, it is hardy, and may be planted in wet and marshy places. There are several varieties one variegated and of no value.