A Rant On Weeping Plants

chamaecyparis pisifera aurea

I work at a nursery because I love plants. But not all plants. I have always had this thing against weeping plants. It’s not just middle age angst about all things drooping. Why these pendulous plants have been so carefully selected and cultivated from chance seedlings has always been a mystery to me. Their hang-dog, trailing habit consistently saddens me. I love Salix, Japanese Maples, Betulas (Birch), Picea (Spruce), Malus (Crabapple), just as long as they are the upright forms! I enjoy my Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’, but not when it is covered in dreary, drooping catkins! Combine mustard yellow with the weeping form and you get my least favourite weeping plant – Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Aurea’ (Golden Threadleaf  Cypress). And they are everywhere in Victoria! And what is it about Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’ (Blue Atlas Cedar) anyways? Brontosaurus in a long skirt? And although I adore ornamental grasses, I have even been known to get out there with my scissors when the Carex testacea or Stipa tenuissima blooming stems trail forever along the ground.

The weeping form also bothers me because I don’t know how to use it in the garden. I always think shape first when I am choosing plants and re-working the many, not-quite-right parts of my garden. I love to use mounding, arching or prostrate forms to soften edges, contrast with verticals or provide horizontal interest, but I am confounded by the pendulous. Even the comical, autumnal look of the weeping dwarf Crabapple, dotted with bright red apples along bare trailing stems in a lovely glazed container makes me melancholy and wonder why.

One of the neatest things about plants is the emotions they can evoke. And one of the neatest things about working in a nursery is hearing about all the different ways people feel about their plants. Tell me how you have used weeping plants to great effect. You probably won’t change my mind, but maybe I will stop weeping when I see them.