If you have room for even one large conifer in your yard, Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) would top our list of recommendations!
Incense Cedars are native to the West coast; ranging all the way from northern Baja California up into central Oregon and western Nevada. Unlike many of the popular conifers frequently planted here in the Rogue Valley, Incense Cedar is heat and drought tolerant, and is tolerant of both clay and serpentine soils.
They get their common name from their wonderfully spicy-smelling, aromatic bark. Plants feature flattened sprays of rich green needles, with a rich reddish-brown bark that becomes deeply furrowed with age.
Young trees are dense, symmetrical, and pyramid-shaped which – happily – also makes them an excellent choice for a living Christmas tree.
Incense Cedars generally grow at a moderate rate (1-2’/year) and will probably reach a height of 60' - 70' when grown in your yard. Wild trees can get much bigger though. In fact, one of the largest Incense Cedars in the world - the Tanner Lakes Titan - is from right here in Jackson County, and is over 137' tall, with an amazing dbh (diameter at breast height) of 12.8'!
Fun fact: the genus name Calocedrus comes from the Greek words kalos meaning beautiful and cedrus meaning cedar tree!