I like a well-grown and maintained cedar hedge as much as the next guy. Evergreen hedges are living fences and much more. They provide a windbreak, a noise barrier and a psychological screen from the world on the other side. But, as many of you are no doubt aware, Thuja occidentalis (Eastern White Cedar) look for all intent and purpose like the world’s largest salad bar to our resident deer population. Without some protection measures (netting, repellents, venison recipes) it’s a battle to keep a cedar hedge intact in many areas of the valley. Unless you plant Thuja plicata (Western Red Cedar) that is. These are resistant to deer browsing but the trouble with this species is that it suffers during our dry summers and cold, dry winters. It grows quickly and beautifully in coastal climates where humidity is higher and moisture more plentiful but not so well in the Okanagan. A relatively new introduction from Proven Winners called ‘Spring Grove’ might be the answer for us though.
Selected for its superior winter colour and hardiness ‘Spring Grove’ will grow to 7 metres tall and 4 metres wide. It does best in a deep, well-drained soil amended with organic matter. Once established it will do well with regular, but not excessive watering. It will tolerate winter temperatures as low as -28 deg. Celsius and has been grown extensively in the US Midwest (originally selected in Ohio). Deer do not browse Thuja plicata nearly as readily as they do Thuja occidentalis.
‘Spring Grove’ will make a tall evergreen screen in a matter of a few years. You can prune in mid-spring to mid-summer to maintain its size. It has a very pyramidal shape; not columnar like Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’ or ‘Brandon.’ The ultimate size is likely too large for a small lot, but for larger spaces where deer browsing is a concern ‘Spring Grove’ offers a suitable alternative.

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