Until July 2017, documenting the seasons of coastal Dorset. I'm a complete amateur so don't trust I'm always right. If ever you see I'm wrong - whether with identifications or in anything else - do say! Meanwhile . . . I've now moved to Halifax in West Yorkshire. Click on the link below to collect the new URL. Don't forget to follow there!

Sunday, 3 January 2010


Here is a boring post about a boring plant. Esther's Worthing bought it as a Christmas tree. In the end, they decided 25cms (10 inches) wasn't quite big enough, even for them. (In her post, she says 10cms but that's because she took Worthing's estimate without checking.)

She doesn't know what it is. I don't know what it is. She asked if I would put photos here in the hope someone (you?) might identify it.

"No", I said, - "It's neither 'loose' nor is it 'leafy'".

"It's only loosely a plant," she suggested, hopefully.

I looked at it - and agreed. So, here it is.

"You realise," she added. "You run the risk of being hounded out of Blotanical?"

I nodded. "Everyone will laugh at us."

"They'll laugh because they'll know what it is and we don't."

I nodded again.

"And they'll get angry because they'll all say it's beautiful, even though we don't like it."

Another nod.

"I think it'll be alright in the end," she said. "They know a bargain when they see one, those Blotanical sorts. That pot is worth £3:00 on its own - and it came with a 'plant' already in it."

Maybe we're covered.

Esther suggested I should take the plant for a walk by so we could get to know each other. I demurred but she chivvied us out of doors so I took it to the sea.

And now for the plant.

Here is its top.

Here is its woody stem. (The plant was lieing on its side at the time.)

And here is its bottom.

One conical plant.

See the cassette case by which to measure it?

Anyone know what it is?

Anyone prepared to sing for its virtues?
P.S. This post will only make sense if read in conjuction with Esther Montgomery's Christmas Post (Part One). Apologies to usual readers for this interpolation. We'll be back to fungi soon.

P.S.  Esther's just been round with the anwer.  It's Chamaecyparis thyoides 'Top Point'.


Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Well, it's cute as houseplants go, but I agree it's not so much of a Christmas tree! it looks like a very small dwarf Alberta spruce to me, but it's not likely they'd sell those in the UK. There, now people can laugh at the THREE of us!

Lucy said...

Hello Monica.

Following your suggestion I looked at Dwarf Alberta Spruce on the internet - but they seem to have needles and this 'tree' only looks as if it's got needles from a distance. When close, you see they aren't.

I had an awful job photographing this plant because the photos kept making it look as if its leaves are needles . . . and it was hard to get any definition to them to show what they are really like. The pictures should be clickable if you want to take a closer look. (The time of year doesn't help and the desk lamp I would usually use is broken.)

However, having looked at the spruce pictures from nurseries on the internet . . . I've landed up thinking I've done quite well when I compare my pictures with theirs. Desiduous leaves are so much easier!


Barbee' said...

I wonder if it is some kind of Yew; some people call them Taxus. It is a cute little puzzler. Definitely worth the price paid. Did it enjoy its trip to the sea? What a lucky little plant to be adopted by a family who will broaden its experiences and horizons. Surely a pet like it should have a name!?

RainGardener said...

I agree, it should have a name. ;-) Or should you wait to find out what it is before naming it? Not a clue.

Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Barbee.

Taxus is a good suggestion. I've been looking at the possibilities there (including the California Nutmeg).

Hemlock of some kind?

Trouble is I have no idea if it is a fully grown little thing or a very-baby-big-thing.

Nor do I know how much it has been shaped by how it has been kept until now.

I suspect the supermarket which sold it doesn't expect it to last long so who cares what it is?

We'll try our best both to keep it alive and to find out what it is - and hope it flowers some time. That might move us forward. Not sure how many years it will take!


Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Rain Gardener.

'Orestes' sprung first to mind so I looked him up. He turns out to have murdered his mother and to have spent a lot of his life being haunted by dark shapes. Once I knew that, it didn't seem such a good idea - but Worthing likes the sound of it so . . . 'Orestes' I think it may be. He certainly looks more like an 'Orestes' than a 'Fred'.


Elephant's Eye said...

Lucy - if the leaves are not actually conifer needles, but just look like needles ... Are the leaves fleshy, is it a Crassula? If you can hang on till its first birthday it should flower. Then all will be revealed!

bare-faced gardener said...

It’s fascinating trying to work out what a plant is. I would tend to agree with Elephant’s Eye except that the ‘trunk’ looks rather woody for a crassula. I’d err towards an erica - heather family.

I think the photos look very good.

I’m waiting to see how long my poinsettias last this year. Is it just me that is hopeless at keeping them alive ? It seems the minute I unwrap them (making sure that they haven’t suffered any major change of temperature / aren’t sitting in a drafty spot) they start losing leaves. I bought a red one and was given two small pink ones. The French call them ‘Etoile de Noël’ - Christmas Star.

Amanda said...

It has a certain charm, even if it isn't very Christmassy! The memory of it (if not The Plant itself) is going to form part of your family's Christmasses in years to come, I'm sure. Thanks for posting the picture!

Dawn/LittleGreenFingers said...

It's obviously a very musical plant as it appears to be carrying some sort of CD around with it wherever it travels. It also appears to be accessorising quite heavily with that glitzy pot, so I'm guessing it's female. Probably from overseas too as it seems to be gazing longingly across the sea.

Hope that helps...

Anonymous said...

Worthing did well. We have seen trees like this at our grocery at Christmas. I think it might be some kind of cypress. If they still have any next time I go, I will see if there is a label other than miniature Christmas tree. Sometimes there is the latin name, most times not. It is still cute. :-)

janie said...

I don't know what it is, but I like it. Even if you only had it on a sideboard, with an ornament or three, it would make a handy little Christmas tree for one who was space challenged.

Definitely a keeper, I think.

easygardener said...

I think it is a 'keep it and see if it flowers or seeds' kind of plant. It is obviously in plain clothes and undercover so you will wait until it makes a mistake and drops a clue!

Anonymous said...

This might be it! They did have them still at the grocery, and there was a tag. Chamaecyparis lawnsonii 'Elwoodii'. The spelling might be off the last part, but I raced home giddy with excitement to let you know. :-)

Rosey Pollen said...

Hi Esther,
Yes, I am aware that my follower picture is a guy. It is a gag. I wondered how long it would take for people to notice. Well, it is nice that you did give me a heads up, it could have been fraud or something. I did not have a sex change over the holidays,:)
I have no idea what that "plant" is you have here.

Lucy said...

Hello Elephant's Eye.

I think Esther may have confused things when she said her 'tree' is ten centimetres tall. It isn't, it's ten INCHES tall - quite a difference . . . which might alter your mind on the Crassula suggestion? I don't know.

(Esther simply took Worhing's estimate without thinking which, since Worthing is half-human, half-Martian isn't very sensible.)

Incidentally, I turned on the radio yesterday morning in the middle of a discussion about somewhere where they are having problems with some kind of crassula which has piled up on itself until it has formed a mat a metre thick!


Lucy said...

Hello Bare Faced Gardener. Etoile de Noelle seems an excellent name for a Poinsettia. I wish I could use that name in England without seeming pretentious.


Lucy said...

Hello Amanda.

I'd say suggesting a plant 'has a certain charm' might be described as 'damning it with faint praise'. (Which makes me wonder whether that ought to be 'feighned' praise.)


Esther Montgomery said...

Oh Dawn! Don't mention music. Just when I think it's time to go to sleep, Worthing starts up on the piano. Now Didcott's talking about learning the saxophone. The saxophone! If the plants start singing too, I'll never have any rest. Luckily, the only cactii we have are Easter and Christmas ones, otherwise we'd have choruses of 'Four Wheels on my Wagon' breaking out from the windowsills. (And you can blame Ming for them. (The Christmas and Easter cactuses.) I think it might be a good idea if they accidentally fell off their perches sometime.)


'Adam lay abounden' may be alright once or twice in December but if this little tree thinks I'll enjoy it right through till midsummer - I'll confiscate its little cassette case and send it off to live with the big trees.


Esther Montgomery said...

Frances - that's so good of you to do an investigation, Sherlock Holmes style!

At first, when I looked up your suggestion on the internet, I found a picture that looks very much like my plant and I too got very excited and said 'This is it, this is it!' but, on closer inspection, it isn't. Cyprusses have flat leaves sticking out from the sides of their branches whereas these are of a different texture and have them arranged around the stem. It's really difficult to work things out pictorially. (Which is me being kind to Lucy about her not very accurate and misleading photos.)


Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Janie.

I've seen the same plants since, sold in another shop. They came with little gold bells and ribbons attached - even a sprig of fake 'proper' Christmas tree plummage!


Esther Montgomery said...

Easy Gardener. That is the conclusion I have come to too - that I'll have to wait until it 'does something'.

As long as it drops a clue and not its leaves.


Esther Montgomery said...


Here's the answer - it's Chamaecyparis thyoides 'Top Point'.

(The supermarket contacted the suppliers and then let me know.)


catmint said...

Well you gave me a good laugh. I believe in forming a relationship with my plants, but have never taken any for an outing to the beach! cheers, catmint