Deodar cedar branch with raindrops

Raindrop Catcher (Deodar cedar)

Fifteen years ago I bought a young Deodar cedar at a charity auction. I knew nothing about Cedrus deodara, but it looked pretty. And cedars grow well on the west coast of BC, right?

Turns out this species is a  true cedar, unlike our native Western redcedar (which is actually a cypress). Deodars come from the Himilayas and are the national tree of Pakistan. That, and the fact that they can grow to almost 200 feet with a trunk up to 10 feet in diameter, should have tipped us off that this tree was…well…not perfectly suited to our little patch of paradise here on the Gulf Islands.

It sat in its pot for a couple of years until we moved to a larger property. Then, figuring we could prune to keep it in check, and that it would add a little privacy between our house and the neighbours, we planted it – about 40 feet from our kitchen window. Oh how naive we were.

It’s grown profusely: the drooping lower branches now extend in a circumference of about 65 feet, pretty much obliterating any view to that side of our yard. We’ve kept the tree reasonably short by topping it a couple of times – with difficulty – but systematic pruning it is a challenge to say the least.

The Deodar does have its charms, though. Those spiny needles are perfect for catching raindrops, and when early morning precipitation is followed by sunshine, the view from our window is of hundreds of sparkling diamonds adorning a series of long, graceful green arcs.

Moments like that have endeared the Deodar to us, and our animal friends also seem to love it. The lower limbs reach down to the lawn, forming a drier and very private shelter for the towhees, sparrows and juncos that rush in and out of those dark recesses. And the tree provides a handy separation scheme for our resident deer family whenever someone needs a “time out”: on opposite sides of those dense, impenetrable branches, they can simply ignore each other.

Well suited to the Gulf Islands? Probably not – but this Himilayan giant seems to be working for us.

Click on these images for larger view & caption:

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About Laurie MacBride, Eye on Environment

Photographer and writer focusing on nature and the environment

10 responses »

  1. Nice, love your pictures. These trees are one of the largests cedars in the world. We have a lot of them in our area here in upstate South Carolina.

    I planted two of them myself last year. They are young but they will grow just like your trees did. check it out… Deodar Cedar

  2. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people plant just such trees a few feet from the house our a couple of feet apart as they they might make a nice hedge. It is sort of like have large animal livestock in your back yard…oh well. it happens. The Deodar cedar is a really beautiful tree,

    • Thanks for your visit and comment, Charlie. Too true! When we planted it, the tree was very small, and the spot looked like a considerable distance from the house. We knew it would grow to be big, but somehow it’s hard to visualize that when a tree is very small.

  3. What a great post, Laurie! We’ve got a few monsters like this in our yard, too, (huge pine trees) and the one good thing we’ve discovered is you cannot see our house or property from Google satellite… all you see of us from space is our huge trees. Hope that helps a bit. LOL

  4. Sherry Galey says:

    This is hugely fascinating to me, Laurie. I didn’t know that Wester red cedar was a cypress, to start with. I love the pics of the animals taking refuge in the tree. I can’t imagine having such a big tree on my property — its looks so gorgeous with the water droplets on it. Glad you shared this beauty with us.

  5. Great story, Laurie. What is the circumference of the tree itself?

    • If you mean the circumference of the trunk, I’m not sure – it’s way too prickly to get inside the reach of those branches to measure it! So just guessing: perhaps 4 to 5 feet (calculated from estimated trunk diameter of a foot and a half, approximately). Thanks for visiting & commenting, Connie! .

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