Golden Monterey cypress
This ever popular and versatile conifer makes a near perfect standard with miniscule leaves and a dense, compact growth habit. It clips easily into many different topiary shapes including spirals, poodles (best described as multi-tiered standards with two or more ‘balls’ of foliage on a single stem) and other less formal designs. The suggested stem height for these standards is 75 cm to 150 cm. They are suitable for pots and containers or as a garden specimen. Beware of plants drying out as water stress can cause damage and ultimately death. It leads to the demise of many conifers due to the fact that the untrained eye does not recognise when conifer foliage is wilting. Grown in full sun ‘Goldcrest’ foliage maintains a rich golden colour; in light shade the foliage tends to be more of a lime-green hue. It is cold and wind tolerant and grows well throughout our country.
Formal, clipped standards – often referred to as ‘lollipops’ – have made a dramatic impact on the local garden scene during the last couple of decades and there are clear indications that the trend has not yet reached its peak in terms of garden fashions. Their neat, clean-cut and distinctive shape and form, along with their varying heights, ensure that they have a unique and important function in the modern landscape. Standards are used for framing, accentuating, highlighting, defining and creating impact in both formal and informal garden designs. One of the major benefits of using standards is that they lend height to the garden without the bulk of an ordinary tree or shrub. This allows views and vistas to be maintained while adding the extra dimension of vertical height to the garden. The key success factor is to maintain the plants on an on going basis in order to retain the desirable balance and proportion of the overall design.
Here are a few practical hints and tips to help you achieve this:
* Select the correct plant for the position at the outset, taking into consideration the sun or shade factor, whether the plant is going into a pot or directly into the ground, climatic conditions, soil types and long-term availability of water.
* Ensure that the balance and proportion is correct in terms of size and height of the plant relative to the scale of the garden and the background. Remember that the length of the stem of any standard cannot be changed or altered; only the outer growth tips are clipped to maintain the shape. Standards in pots will always appear to be taller than the same plant in the ground.
* Evergreen plants with tiny to small leaves make the neatest clipped standards by virtue of the minimal visible damage caused to the foliage during the clipping procedure. Sharp, well-maintained clipping tools are essential.
* Plant standards at the correct depth into well prepared planting holes or containers. A sturdy stake that supports the stem, keeping it straight and upright, and which protrudes beyond the stem into the head of the standard, is vital. Keep the stake securely fastened in place all the time without damaging the bark of the stem.
* Regular pruning and clipping is perhaps the most important part of the on going maintenance programme. The shorter the length of growth that is removed with each successive clipping, the better.
* Regular, on going fertilising and watering goes without saying. The mark of a good ‘lollipop’ specimen is one that is densely clothed with lush, healthy foliage all the time and yet maintains a neat, tidy shape with clearly defined outlines.