Plant the Green Giant Arborvitae instead of Leyland Cypres

Leyland cypresses, XCupressocyparis leylandii, are not fairing well in many landscapes. It is a fast growing tree used in boarders and screens that had relatively few pest problems. Now is has been suffering from branch dieback. Sadly it can cause the death of the tree. Seiridium canker is the cause. This disease is not to the point of wiping out this tree, but I would recommend not planting this tree as it likly will in the future be a major concern. Thus landscape designers should seek a replacement for the Leyland Cypress. One great choice is the Green Giant Arborvitae. Green Giant arborvitae is becoming a superstar in the plant world. It is the most popular arborviate next to the Emerald Green Arborvita. The reason for its success is that it fills landscape needs that are important. It will help block large unsightly neighbors quickly and is basically pest free. It is also a plant that is in the public domain and not protected by a patnent. Thus anyone can propagate this plant. The original Green Giant got its name not from ancient lore, but from unusually extra large, hence "giant," green peas. These "Green Giant Peas" were a new "strain," a new species, introduced by the Minnesota Valley Canning Company in 1925. You see, these were huge peas when compared to the previously marketed baby peas early-picked in June (that's sure early in co-o-o-old Minnesota). LeSueur baby peas are still sold today in their classic silver can as a gourmet vegetable. Founded back in 1903, Minnesota Valley Canning was a pea company located along the Minnesota River, which was the Dakota Sioux name for "cloudy water," just southwest of Minneapolis and St. Paul, the state capital. This is where there's a bottomland "confluence" with the even cloudier, soil-rich, muddier Mississippi River. The whole area, including surrounding towns like LeSueur, got the title, the "Minnesota Valley." Ohhh. And where did THAT name, LeSeur, come from you may be wondering? Lesueur is the name of the original explorer of the area, a Frenchmen of the early 1700's. Minnessota is amidst the land of Paul Bunyan and his blue ox Babe, tall tales about them a part of he culture. Maybe the stories gave rise to ideas for how to advertise Green Giant Peas. The "Jolly Green Giant" became incredibly popular as the way to advertise those Green Giant Peas and by 1950 he was an "icon" as we say today. There was a cartoon character created, ubiquitous TV commercials and print advertising, even "giant-sized" highway billboards, so the company changed its name to his. So that is where the "Green Giant" comes from, 20th century modern marketing, not ancient lore. The Green Giant Thuja Plicata is in the same Juniper family as the original "tree of life" Arborvitae, but with growth rates as fast as three feet per year (gee, bamboo's the fastest grower at five feet per, but it's just grass). Thuja Plicata trees grow to heights beyond 200 feet in the Pacific Northwest, this Western RedCedar is indeed worthy of also taking the Green Giant name. , , and The Green Giant Arborvitae is more properly named by tree scientists the "Thuja Plicata," with the other common historic names being, "giant cedar," also "western cedar," and "red cedar." There's only one other Arborvitae specie in all of North America, the "eastern cedar," or "white cedar," with "Thuja Occidentalis," as the tree scientist's Latin name, the botanist's name. This short tree is actually what we usually think of when the "genus" juniper is mentioned.

Funny that the eastern cedar was given the Latin name for "west" which is "occidental." You see? As I have observed before, what's in a name? Highland Hill Farm is not located in a town called Highland Hills, or, on Highland Hill Road, etc. Scottish Highland Hills cows that we grazed on our first property provided our company with a distinctive name when we sold our first trees in 1978.

Green Giant Arborvitae ranges naturally all across the United States from Massachusetts, southwesterly to Texas and New Mexico, through northern Arizona, up the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the state of Washington, and British Columbia beyond.

What does arborvitae mean anyway? Now that we know about the derivation of "Green Giant," here's how the Latin name Arborvitae, or "tree of life," came about. As the first explorers of Canada were mapping the St. Lawrence River in 1536, the tree was used for medicine which saved their leader and most of the men too. Jacques Cartier explored the islands off eastern Canada, and then sailed westward where he entered the St. Lawrence River and found Quebec and a Royal Mountain (Mont Real, which is now called "Montreal"). Cartier was searching for the passage to China so many other explorers would also fail to find. Cartier and his men had to spend a long winter inside a little fort, away from the any sun, where they subsisted on meat, fish, and bread, eating no fruits or vegetables. As scurvy was killing most all of them, a friendly Huron Indian gave Cartier's crew tea made from the needles and bark of a tree which looked like the white cedars of Europe. So Cartier took some trees back to France with him, these Thuja Occidentalis Eastern White Cedars, naming them "Arborvitae," the tree of life. How about that?

Arborvitae are native to the pacific northwest where they grow to 200 feet tall, usually 50 to 70 feet is the common height, even including here in Bucks county. Arborvitae do best in wet forests and swamps. The Green Giant appearance is due to this specie's wide 15-25 foot wide base, the slightly tapering conical shape, and the dense branches and leaves casting great dark shadows. The Arborvitae grows in zones 6 to 8, environments with temperatures that get as low as 10 degrees below 0 Fahrenheit, such as in Missouri or Pennsylvania, to environments where winter temperatures get only as low as 20 degrees above 0 Fahrenheit, such as mid-Texas and northern Florida.

Green Giant Arborvitae have pretty, yet surprisingly tiny yellow flowers. The "pine cones," the fruit actually, of the tree, follow the budding of the flowers and are also surprisingly small compared to the size of a mature tree, being no more than a half-inch in size. There are no problems with tree litter understandably, and so few animals are attracted to the Green Giant Arborvitae, perhaps because of this description.

The Green Giant Arborvitae is recommended for growing as a hedge or privacy buffer along a property line, or driveway. Thuja Plicata, Western Red Cedars are ideal "windrow" trees. In a row, they'll truly diminish the wind. The Green Giant Arborvitae is justifiably considered wind resistant considering the windswept mountains of the Pacific northwest. The wood itself is weak, but it is very light. Green Giant Arborvitae do have better deer resistance than most arborvitae. These trees have been planted in high deer population areas. On our farm in Doylestown we have lots of deer and do have damage the Emerald Green Arborvitae. The Green Giants are eaten by deer only an occasionally, a nibble here and there. Based on our own observations over the years we feel that the Green Giants will only be eaten by deer if there is no other feed available.

Now that you know all about 'em, Highland Hill Farm has at least 50 or more Green Giant Arborvitae in our nursery ready for pickup at any time. They will range from 1.5' to 12' and be balled and burlapped or potted. We also have field liners and seedling Green Giant available. There are many more varieties of arborvitae available which we have in stock. If we don't stock the variety you want we will find it for you if possible. See Bills other web sites at and