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The friendly and graceful hemlock, and is many variations.

Hikers and campers are likely to be familiar with native hemlocks. Although a few gardeners may use Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) and mountain hemlock (T. mertensiana), the majority grow Canada hemlock (T. canadensis) or one of its garden forms. Nodding tips, gently drooping branchlets, and fine, soft, dark green needles make them among the most graceful of all conifers.

This friendly eastern American native can reach 100 feet in height in the Northwest, but in California gardens it is likely to reach tree size only in the fog belt and in the higher, moister mountains. Able to take profound cold. trees dislike dry winds (hot or cold), dry, poor soil, and alkaline soil and water.

On the other hand, many attractive variations--dwarf, weeping, or variegated--will thrive in partial or afternoon shade, neutral to acid oil, and shelter from winds. The smaller ones make excellent container plants or rock garden subjects. Best known of the variations is T.c. 'Pendula', also known as Sargent weeping hemlock. A low, broad plant usually 2 to 3 feet high and twice as wide, it resembles a soft green haystack; opened up, it shows a picturesque branch structure (above).

Another weeper (actually more of a creeper) is 'Cole' or 'Cole's Prostate', a flat grower than forms mats on the ground. 'Jeddeloh' is slow growing, with branches angling up and out, branchlets weeping at the tips.

Among its offspring, Canada hemlock also numbers color variations. Conspicuous white new growth makes 'Albo Spica' (left) a standout. It grows more slowly than the species and is quite compact, but needs careful siting out of strong sun and wind--and out of situations where ts creamy color would look unnatural.

'Gentsch White' is new, still rare, and choice. Its growth is dense and tight, making its outline nearly globular. The many new growth points are white, giving the plant a snow-spangled look.

And something entirely different

Japanese hamlock (T. diversifolia), the only Asiatic variety growth here, captures connoisseurs of conifers by its foliage. The needles are short, blunt-tipped, and densely but irregularly disposed around the branches; new needles are beautifully soft and pale green. The plant is relatively slow growing but no dwarf; it will probably be a bushy, broad, small tree.
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Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Nov 1, 1985
Words:372
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