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
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
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
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...
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and for resources and
additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed
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