Getting to Know Thuja Cheer Drops Arborvitae - January 2022

Earlier this month, I posted a couple of things that I'd like to reference here.  First...was the post talking about 2022 Garden Trends and how - like high fashion - the trends we see in the garden center or local nursery emerge years prior at places like the Chelsea Flower Show.  In that recap post about trends, one of the design direction that was a big takeaway from Chelsea this year was the idea of 'organic ovals'.  It is one of the big, macro trends mentioned in this piece cover last year's Chelsea show.  

The other thread I'm pulling at is the idea of a 'Getting to Know' plant series that is part of my ongoing self-education.  I started by talking about Eucomis (Pineapple Lillies) and how I ordered a handful of bulbs to try in containers this Summer.   Part of these "Getting to Know X" posts is about getting myself a little more familiar with unique plants and cultivars.  Things that not everyone has in their garden or yard.  

When you combine those two things:  organic ovals and getting to know plants you end up here: at this post about Thuja Cheer Drops Arborvitaes.

Everyone KNOWS about Arborvitates.  They're for sale at EVERY Home Depot all year long.  Costco has them early in the season, too.  They're great for screening, provide a lot of Winter interest and you get good bang for your buck.  As a result of those can't look around a yard or garden and NOT see them.  

In our old garden in Elmhurst, we had Arborvitae.  Six of them, lined up against the fence in our backyard.  And, they provided some color, contrast and Winter Interest.  We moved out well before they ever achieved any meaningful height - enough to provide some privacy.  But, I liked the time.

But, we've now had five growing seasons (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021) and we have exactly ZERO Thuja or Arborvitae in our yard.  Why?  Well...They're NOT on the plan for one thing.  Second is that we *do* have a lot of shade.  But, I think the biggest thing is that I've been turned off of them.  I think it was mostly because of how often I see them.  That isn't to say that I haven't bought some young evergreen shrubs that I want do do the same things:  green color, contrast, privacy, Winter Interest.   In our current garden, that's meant Hicks Upright Yews.  To the tune of more than 20 of them - including some that I'm hoping I can topiary into a Block I.

So, when I came across a shrub in this list of 'new introductions' for 2022 from Proven Winners that is a little bit more unique version of a Thuja or Arborvitae, it had me take note and want to learn more.  On that list of new stuff headed our way is this new sport of the Arborvitae:  Cheer Drops.   It was developed by a guy named Tim Woods of South Haven Michigan (who on Linkedin calls himself "The Plant Hunter").  

Why am I 'getting to know it'?  Because, it checks that box around the Chelsea tread of "organic ovals".  Here, below, is a screenshot from the Proven Winners listing:

That's a unique shape, right?  And, 'organic oval'.  From the listing:

This new and interesting evergreen breaks up the monotony of the landscape. With an attractive tear drop shape, Cheer Drops™ easily transforms any garden from drab to darling. No shaping is needed as it maintains its fun shape naturally. Fresh green foliage remains bright year-round.

Top reasons to grow Cheer Drops™ arborvitae:

- Handsome teardrop-shaped habit.

- Creates more architecturally interesting hedges and foundation groupings.

- Thrives even in chilly USDA zone 3.

Read through that list again.  Feels like a really strong list of reasons this could find a spot in my garden (and yours?).  Unique shape.  Check.  Maintenance.  Check. Year-round interest.  Check.  Architecturally interesting.  Check.  Hardy down to Zone 3.  Check.

I'll keep it on my 2022 plant wish list.  Maybe I'll come across it this Summer. If I do, I suppose I need to think about finding the right spot to plant it in our backyard.


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