Thujopsis dolabrata is monotypical conifer, the only species in this genus, and is known as Asanuro in its native Japan. In its homeland it is often found planted close to temples and is one of the five sacred trees of Japan. Thujopsis means looks like a Thuja, it obviously helps if you know what a Thuja looks like, and dolabrata means hatchet-like which refers to the shape of the stomata – the tiny pores on the leaves which unusually are visible in this species. I have generally found conifer identification something to be avoided at all costs but in this case it is pretty straightforward. The scale-like deep green leaves, paler when young, have a distinctive white underside and when crushed smell deliciously of pineapple. These leaves overlap like armadillo armour covering each flattened branchlet, which are in turn arranged on fan-shaped branches. It is suited to warm, wet areas such as the south-west of the British Isles. As luck would have it this is a perfect description of our garden. This is both good and bad. When mature it has attractive peeling red bark (good) and can reach up to 30m in height in optimum conditions (bad). Mind you, a little snip here and a little snip there will soon rectify any over exuberance.
Some days are good, they just can’t help themselves. Today was one of those days. I was warmed by the sun; planted, weeded and strimmed with enthusiasm and a happy heart; best of all I met some wonderful enlightening and cheering people. On the way home a man in a white van gave way to me with a cheery smile. Then I was spooked.