Credit: Barbra Fairclough

When planted in an open area, the pencil tree can become a majestic specimen

This thick copper-coloured bark is characteristic of the incense tree (Calocedrus decurrens) and is only one of its many great qualities. Hardy to zone 5, it is tolerant of many types of soil and drought resistant. When planted in an open area, this moderate grower can become a majestic specimen. Fine horizontal sprays of green foliage form its pyramidal shape. If you are not sure you are looking at an incense cedar, then rub the foliage in your hand to release its fragrance and you will discover a familiar smell, reminiscent of new pencils. In fact, prior to its becoming over-harvested, C. decurrens was preferred in the manufacture of pencils due to the wood’s softness and grain. A Great Plant Pick for 2003, choose this one to create a lasting legacy in your garden.