Golden Conifers in my Garden

Love them or hate them, there’s no doubt that conifers provide year-round architectural and sculptural interest in the garden. When placed correctly, they are a joy and an asset.

Especially for those in the Northern Hemisphere, conifers in winter are often the only real sign of green in an otherwise grey, brown and white landscape.

Conifer planting is ubiquitous in my area, as it is synonymous – almost to the point of being clichéd – with cool climate gardens in Australia.

Unlike broadleaf trees (including the native Eucalyptus) which respond to the mostly poor soils here with stunted growth, the conifers, (typically Pinus radiata, Cedrus deodara, Cupressus torulosa and Picea sp. ) dominate the skyline with their upright habit, regardless of the rocky soils.

In my own garden, I am fortunate that a number of trees were planted at the time the house was built, and now 30-40 years later are starting to become mature and graceful. But it’s also a throw-back to garden styles of the 1970s- 1980s: every single conifer in my yard is a yellow cultivar!!!!

My favourite of these golden trees is the Golden Himalayan Cedar, Cedrus deodara ‘Aurea’:


From the Southern side


The golden tips are more evident on the Northern side

It’s not an ‘in-your-face’ type of gold, more a lime-green, but it is a welcome, sunny tree that dominates the yard. Only the growing tips are gold tinged and for most of the year it is just slightly greener than its typical glaucous Deodar relatives.

Similarly, a golden Monterrey Cypress, Cupressus macrocarpa was planted in another part of the yard. This is likely to be the ‘Donard Gold’ cultivar, but I can’t be sure.

The tree is partly shaded by a very ancient Eucalypt for about 70% of the day, so it has more of a chartreuse than gold about it:


Cupressus macrocarpa (unknown cultivar)

I love its simple, oval shape.

This will change in my lifetime as the Macrocarpa develops its distinctive broad spread, like this one below, in my neighbours’ yard, which is about 110 years old.

The really nifty thing about the Macrocarpas is that they reach the ultimate height fairly early, and then just like us humans, at middle age, grow outwards rather than upwards 🙂


The flat, broad top of the Macrocarpa in my neighbours yard. My tree is now starting to take on this shape.

Then there is the Golden Pencil Pine near the front of the house:


Cupressus sempervirens ‘Swane’s Golden’

This is an Australian raised cultivar of the classic Italian Cypress found in the hills of Tuscany. This one certainly adds the equivalent of a horticultural punctuation mark. Best of all, absolutely no maintenance is required in ensuring it maintains its shape.

Lastly, right on the property line is a Hinoki Cypress, Chamaecyparis Obtusa, rounding out the golden conifers on the property.

This one, along with the tree Rhododendron, was planted way too close to the garage and the lower part of the tree is completely misshapen, as it has only 10″ of space to grow in.

But the canopy with tightly ruffled needles, is still quite dramatic, even on a foggy summers’ morning. This one goes a brownish gold once the first frosts hit.


Chamaecyparis obtusa (unkown cultivar)

And, once the sun comes out:


I probably would never have picked these myself  as I tend to choose the bluer varieties. But as the present custodian of these trees, I am certainly pleased that they were planted…but lastly, to show you just how common these were 30 years ago, here is random house in my town with an almost identical conifer planting scheme….


Swanes Golden, Chamaecyparis and Deodar….hmmm…original indeed 🙂 Image courtesy Google Maps

Happy Gardening 🙂


9 thoughts on “Golden Conifers in my Garden

    • Thankyou, these trees certainly make the garden, and remind me of the saying “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago”…the golden Italian cypress cultivar is very common here (more widely grown than the original) and is also extremely tough. Not only does it grow well in cold areas like mine, I have seen it in subtropical cities like Brisbane as well as the typical Mediterranean climates like Adelaide and it always looks healthy….

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I didn’ t realise that Cedrus deodora grows so big, it is beautiful. My favourite though is the gorgeous Cupressus ‘ Swane’ s Golden’, I have never heard about it before. I don’ t suppose it would be hardy here.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s