Winners 2016

Dawn Redwood

Japanese White Pine

Dawn Redwood

   Dawn Redwood (Metasequioa glyptostroboides)


Image © Bailey Arboretum in New York

The Dawn Redwood is a very ancient plant which was long thought to be extinct – the only evidence of it’s existence was from fossil remains dating back from as long as 50-100 million years ago. To the worlds surprise and delight a remote population was found in the 1940’s in China. In the mid-1940’s the Arnold Arboretum sponsored a seed collecting expedition to China and subsequently shared seed of this ancient species with botanic gardens around the world. While the species remains critically endangered in the wild it is now more commonly available in the nursery trade and accessible to the gardening public.

A rapid grower, this deciduous conifer has become well established in fine landscapes, and has quickly grown to 100’ or more. Soft, sensuous, bright green needles emerge in spring and deepen to a rich green for the summer months. In autumn, as the feathery branchlets prepare to drop, the needles turn lovely shades of rusty orange, providing yet another season of interest. In winter the muscular, fluted trunk, with peeling bark of warm tan and orange-brown, stands out against the snow and the soaring conical form, defined by slender twigs, is a welcome sight against the winter sky.

A colorful cultivar, ‘Ogon’, bears eye-catching yellow needles which hold their color through out the summer and create a strong, vibrant focal point. Both the species and cultivar require room to flourish – the buttressed trunk and superficial roots are wide spreading. In moist soils ‘knees’ which protrude up from the root system can often be seen emanating out from the circle of the drip line. A couple of neat and trim cultivars (‘National’ and ‘Sheridan Spire’) are more columnar than the species but remain difficult to locate. Hardy in zones 4-8 the Dawn Redwood thrives in organic, evenly moist soil but will tolerate seasonally wet conditions making it a great choice for our changing climate.