Plants - Trees and Shrubs

Junipers revisited

Hardy and handsome, these modern cultivars are a far cry from those old foundation-plant horrors

With their year-round appeal, evergreen plants such as conifers can form the backbone of any landscape. Gardeners have plenty of types from which to choose, but with water restrictions becoming more commonplace across Canada, tough, reliable junipers are worth another look.

As a group, they tolerate not only drought, but also pollution, salt, poor soil and the variable soil pH often found in urban gardens. Their remarkable diversity of form, texture, size and colour make them suitable for myriad uses such as foundation plantings, privacy screens, hedging, erosion control and groundcovers.

Site junipers in full sun, in any half-decent, well-drained soil and they’ll be happy. Since junipers are typically bought as container-grown specimens, they may be planted in any season. However, early-season planting will allow them to become better established as they head into their first winter.

For most of us in Canada, there are six juniper species of primary importance: Chinese (Juniperus chinensis), common (J. communis), creeping (J. horizontalis), savin (J. sabina), flaky (J. squamata) and eastern red cedar (J. virginiana). From these, hundreds of named cultivars have arisen. Here are some of the newest and best.

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