Leylandii- Love it or Loathe it?
The Leyland cypress also known as the Cupressus x leylandii, or simply leylandii, is a fast-growing coniferous tree with spray-like citrus scented foliage. Leylandii are incredibly dense, making them a wonderful coniferous feature as a tree or hedge.
The genus was born in the late 1800’s at a country estate in Powys, Wales. Two plants which would naturally grow hundreds of miles apart, a Monterey cypress and a Nootka cypress cross-fertilised and produced six seedlings of the new plant. Today over 100 years later, an estimated 55 million of the plants are growing in the UK.
Leylandii are best grown in sun or light shade and well-drained soil. Due to their vast size, leylandii take a lot of moisture and nutrients from the soil which should be compensated for by adding leaf mould, compost or rotted manure during autumn and spring. They also require a significant amount of water in particularly dry weather. Plants nearby to a large leylandii will have to contend for light and moisture so must be selected carefully. Euphorbia amygdaloides var robbiae and Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ are great varieties which thrive where the sun doesn’t necessarily shine.
Known for their rapid growth and sheer size, the leylandii can easily grow to a height of 12 metres or more in as little as 10 years. The plants are great for creating privacy and blocking out wind and road noise. Leylandii benefit from regular clipping of their dense foliage throughout summer and autumn to maintain a suitable and attractive shape and size.
When not kept to a maintainable height, the leylandii can grow out of control and become somewhat more difficult and expensive to prune. Leylandii have had some bad press in recent years with excessive and uncontrolled growth of trees and hedges causing conflict between neighbours whose homes and gardens are blocked from any natural light. As a result of these conflicts, legislation governing high hedges now gives those whose properties are overshadowed the opportunity to resolve conflicts with the help of their local council without involving lawyers.
Whether you love it or loathe it, the leylandii has its roots firmly set in the gardens of the Great British public, with over 300,00 of the plant being sold each year. So if you’re looking for good height on a low budget and are prepared to put in some pruning time, leylandii is a superb option!