cupressus macrocarpa

Cupressus Macrocarpa

‘Gold Crest’, ‘Golden Monterey Cypress’, ‘Swane’s Gold’, ‘Pencil Pine’

Golden Monterey Cypress

Conifers truly come into their own in winter. These shapely and statuesque evergreens dominate the landscape in colder climates where many trees and shrubs are dormant during the fall and winter months. Their significance and impact are further enhanced by the fact that cold weather intensifies the coloration of the foliage, often turning somewhat ordinary plants into eye-catching features, as the harshness of winter bites.

Conifers lend themselves to a formal garden style as many species can be used as hedges, while others are easily shaped or clipped into topiaries. As solitary garden specimens or stand-alone plants they are unsurpassed, growing with a natural, symmetrical shape.

Cupressus Macrocarpa ‘Gold Crest’, in particular, with its large proportions and rich, golden foliage, make this a dramatic landscape plant in any garden. It is cold and wind tolerant and grows well throughout South Africa.

The tightly-packed scale leaves release a strong lemon fragrance when touched or crushed and the colour of the foliage changes from lime-green in mid-summer to a rich golden-yellow in winter.

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.

This beautiful conifer grows between 3 and 4 metres high in ten years, and ultimately 10m or more as a mature specimen.

Distribution and Habit of Cupressus Macrocarpa

Most conifers will grow in many of our climatic regions in South Africa, from the seashore to the very coldest regions. Where they battle are the arid, semi-desert climatic zones where dry soils and scorching temperatures hamper their growth.

What Cupressus Macrocarpa Need

The key to growing healthy conifers is to ensure that they have sufficient space in which to grow and develop without interference from surrounding structures or competing plants. Sunlight all around the plant and free air movement ensures that plants mature to a ripe old age.

Beware of conifers drying out as water stress can cause damage and ultimately death. It leads to the demise of many conifers because the untrained eye does not recognise when conifer foliage is wilting. In particularly dry periods, this group of plants benefit from a light spray to cool their outer foliage, but this should be done mid-morning, before the hottest part of the day.

Many conifers are suitable for pots and containers or as a garden specimen, depending on their shape and mature proportions. They will benefit from a regular, weekly watering and should not be allowed to dry out or be left standing in soggy potting medium.

In a nutshell

  • Cupressus Macrocarpa ‘Gold Crest’ is a winner in any garden, provided that it is supported by the climate;
  • Its startling colour and fragrant foliage make it a popular choice amongst conifers;
  • Most conifers attain their manageable garden proportions within ten years of growth, after which they can become large, disproportionate to the rest of the garden and generally untidy. Your local nursery or garden centre will supply you with more useful information about growing conifers in your area. 
The Gardener