Tsuga canadensis ‘Gentsch White’
Common name: Gentsch White Canadian Hemlock
There is a tree in the middle bed of the Heather Garden. Perfectly placed. Not too tall, not too wide and a graceful form. Yet it is identified as a dwarf hemlock (Tsuga canadensis ‘Gentsch White’), a cultivar that can eventually reach a height of 2.5 m/10 ft. Our tree is definitely not a dwarf. What happened?
A lot has to do with dwarf conifer cultivars and the colour white. ‘Gentsch White’ has needles at the tips of its branchlets that are silver white, especially intense in fall and winter. Annual shearing is recommended to maintain compact growth and encourage new white growth. Thankfully, no shearing was done and we have a tree returning to its roots. And our dwarf hemlock has another white-tipped friend in the nearby Bird Garden - the dwarf coastal redwood (Sequoia sempervirens ‘Adpressa’). It took off as well to the journey home.
Tsuga canadensis ‘Gentsch White’ originated as a seedling selected in the 1960s by Otto Gentsch of Long Island, New York. It was planted in 1978 in bed 66. That is where the pictures were taken. The last picture shows some needles not quite ready to give up their white tips.
Text and photos by Hughie Jones