Stately junipers add garden drama as they point skyward

Sometimes, all your landscape needs to give it a whole new look is a little drama. These fast-growing junipers could be just the ticket.
Juniper Spartan (Juniperus chinensis Spartan) If you read much about gardens, you often see photographs of so-called Italian cypress in magazines and books. There's nothing wrong with them at all. But after a while it gets a bit ho-hum seeing the same old, same old.
The Juniper Spartan makes a very acceptable alternative and, by the way, is the source of the lovely spiraled topiary columns that are popular in Mediterranean-style gardens. They also work well in large, heavy duty concrete or ceramic containers as accents in a formal garden.
The Spartans are handsome, fast-growing junipers with a densely branched columnar form that makes them useful as a screen or windbreak. They prefer full sun and rapidly reach a mature height of between ten and twenty feet.
Juniper Blue Point (Juniperus chinensis Blue Point) Plant this juniper close to a lush, green lawn and the effect is quite dramatic because the emerald of the grass accentuates the juniper's blue coloring. Like the Spartan, the Blue Point has exceptionally dense foliage that would be ideal for screening.
I often recommend the Blue Point to line a stately driveway or frame an entry. If you have a square courtyard, you get a very pleasant effect by planting one Blue Point at each corner. However, I also like to see them in matched pairs or groups to form a colorful screen or garden accent.
As with most plants, it makes sense to understand its natural habitat and try to match that as closely as possible. In the case of the Blue Point, its natural habitat is dry and windy with exposure to full sun. Plant the Blue Point where it will receive virtually no shade all day and this will allow the foliage to dry quickly in the morning, preventing disease from thinning the canopy.
Juniper Skyrocket (Juniperus scopulorum Skyrocket) Regular readers might remember a question that appeared in this column from a reader who needed ideas for a very narrow strip of land separating her house from her neighbor's. When a tall, narrow tree is called for, make sure Skyrocket is on your list!
This thin, columnar juniper is ideal for awkward, narrow spaces such as side yards. The evergreen, silvery-blue foliage on the Skyrocket is exceptionally consistent, showing very little change from season to season. It's a good plant for both hot and cold regions but, like the other junipers, it does require exposure to fairly full sun for best results.
Skyrocket makes a very imposing statement when planted against a large fence or building or in formal plantings. With only a two or three foot spread, the Skyrocket can soar to around twenty feet quite rapidly and is tolerant of dry/arid soil.
If your tastes run to something a little wider and wilder, let's move away from the junipers and look at...
Euonymus Manhattan This one is definitely more than just another broadleaf evergreen: this is one of the very few Euonymus that bear colored fruit. If you're a fan of berried plants such as Viburnum Brandywine or Cardinal Candy, or perhaps Brilliant Red Chokeberry, the Manhattan would be the perfect complement. White flowers appear, framed by the dark green leaves and followed by the pinkish fruit.
Manhattan can tolerate cold to almost 0 degrees F as well as high temperatures, wind, poor soil and even salt spray. I think this plant looks best when planted in a semi-wild setting where you can allow it to grow without shearing. Even left to its own devices, this shrub has a neat, formal appearance, topping out at six to ten feet at maturity.
Put these evergreens on your "look see" list if year-round drama is something you'd enjoy.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to snipped-for-privacy@landsteward.org and for resources and additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org
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