The Q&A Archives: Emerald Isle vs. Italian cypress

Question: I am looking for a columnar cypress to use in my Italian landscape. I've seen the trees I want in several gardens within 5 miles of my hous. I've asked the owners about the trees which are 15-20' tall by 2-3' wide; very tight - they look just like trees we saw and loved in Italy. They say they were planted about 10 years ago and they are Leyland Cypress. However, when I talk to the local nurseries, they say Leylands don't grow that narrow and tight unless they are trimmed. These folks say they don't trim and that they are disappointed in the growth because they expected the full spreding of Leyland Cypress for privacy.

I saw your Emerald Isle today and they appear to have been trimmed a few times. It has the shape and look I want. Is it possible that its growth pattern could be affected by these trimmings and will it stay more narrow than the 6-8' indicated on the tree tag? I'm thinking the trees I referred to in the local yards must be Emeral Isle Leyland. I'm in zone 6, so the Italian Cypress won't work for me and I would rather not use arborvitaes. Thank you for your help!

Answer: I think that Emerald Isle is probably the plant you're seeing in your neighborhood. They will need to be trimmed to maintain a tall narrow appearance. Arborvitae will remain tall and narrow without pruning so you may want to reconsider these shrubs. If not, other cultivars inclue:
'Castlewellan Gold' - Plants 20 feet tall and 5 feet wide have yellow new growth. The foliage turns bronze in winter.
'Moncal' - (Emerald Isle TM) - Plants 25 feet tall and 8 feet wide have a dense habit and bright green foliage.
'Naylor's Blue' - A pyramidal cultivar with bluish foliage. The plant will be 35 feet tall and about 15 feet wide.

A final suggestion is the pyramidal growth habit of Clemson greenspire.

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