Tamarix gallica (Tamarisk)
Americans call it Salt Cedar. The deciduous feathery foliage is slightly cedar-like but its ability to tolerate salt in the air puts this stuff in a league of its own.
By the coast it’s ubiquitous with its delicate glaucous foliage and masses of pink flowers in the summer. Most take a utilitarian approach to it. It’s the only thing that will get to any height on the beach and provide some shelter from the storms. It gets planted and left to fend for itself. Sometimes old ones will display a gnarled old trunk but rarely do you see it grown to fulfil it’s remarkable potential.
It’s certainly useful by the seaside but it’s hardy enough to grow anywhere as long as there’s plenty of light. The potential lies in two areas. 1. Topiary. It clips beautifully and grows fast enough to make the process of taking some overgrown shrubs and clipping them into shapely lumps and bumps, extremely rewarding. 2. To encourage them as trees. Ancient plants in the Mediterranean will often become venerable old trees with gnarled trunks as distinguished as any ancient olive or cork oak. We supply them as mounds and as little trees. The little trees – in order to get them to look as they should – constantly need the prodigious amounts of epicormic growth removed (just rub your hand up and down the trunk) and they’ll eventually lose the tendency to produce the growth and get on with the job of being a very elegant and characterful little tree. They’ll also need staking for longer than most trees but persevere – it’s worth it.
Any reasonably well drained soil in plenty of light. Will grow to 6ft in 4 years but to get it to 15ft as a tree could take 10 years or more.
Propagated by us from cutting – originally from the ones on the sea front at Bognor Regis in West Sussex.
N.B. When clipping several plants with the same tool, have a bucket containing a 5% bleach solution and swish your blades around for 30 seconds between plants to sterilise them. This will help avoid the chance of cross contamination of disease.
As with all woody plants, plant high, exposing as much of the taper at the base of the trunk as possible. Allowing soil to accumulate round the base of a tree can be fatal. Keep very well watered when first planted.
Hardiness level Green