This is the backside of some of the better junipers!

Junipers have a bad reputation. They earned it at a time when they were too common. Too many were installed into situations that they were not appropriate for. As they grew, they were unpleasant to handle. If not handled enough, they became overgrown and shabby. Once that happened, there were nearly impossible to prune back into confinement without being ruined.

I was never one to completely subscribe to that bad reputation. There were just too many junipers that I really liked, particularly the Hollywood juniper and the Hetz blue juniper. There were a few that I disliked, and I still loath the common tam juniper, but they were in the minority, and happen to be the same sort that are becoming more scarce.

For landscape situations that they happen to conform to, there really is no reason for junipers to be any less appropriate than any other genus is. They are happy with local climates and soil types. Once established, they do not need much water at all, and many need no supplemental irrigation. They last for a very long time. Best of all, they need only minimal maintenance.

However, even some of the best junipers are not perfect. I know. I just needed to work with some that were installed in 1980, and, except for getting pruned back around the edges, were completely ignored. After days of trying to tame them, I can not longer deny that some of what I have not wanted to believe about them is very true.

Besides all the trash and road debris that had been dumped into them during the past four decades, they were thickly infested with Himalayan blackberry. Removing the bramble was not only wickedly unpleasant, but it exposed bare spots where juniper foliage had been shaded out. Removal of a few junipers that had been overwhelmed and died left even more bare spots.

Well, I could not just leave all the dead twiggy growth under the bars spots, so tried to remove some of that too. That only exposed more of what what under and behind it, and caused the well foliated stems above to sag into the whole mess. In the end, the junipers are an unsightly mess, and I know that they will stay that way for a very long time.

Removal of all the bramble and dead junipers exposes a lot of bare branches.

6 thoughts on “Horridculture – Jumpin’ Juniper!

  1. They are hard to handle. There are some in my mother’s neighborhood, near the sidewalks and she loathes them, but I think they’re kind of pretty and they smell nice. Still, looking at the mess you found, I guess, like most things, they need the right situation and the right care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. These were actually a good choice for the particular situation, and needed almost no maintenance in the past four decades. However, the little bit of maintenance they needed but did not get was very important. If the bramble had been removed, they would be in good condition now. I do not particularly like how they were chopped around the edges, but until I tried to correct it, it really was not a problem.
      Eventually, I intend to plant two Eastern red cedars that I brought back from Pecan Valley Junction. I know that not many people like them, and that there are prettier junipers. They should go where they get plenty of space to develop sort of naturally.


  2. Ugh, I detest that awful blackberry!! We have tons of it up here, too, and although the berries are tasty, I would much rather prefer they weren’t here. They are wicked plants… That said, I think there is a lot to love about junipers, but your photos certainly prove their reputation. Like arborvitae, once they’ve been left to look bad, there really is no way to make them look good again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The blackberries actually made a jelly that won second place at the Santa Cruz Mountains Harvest Festival two years ago. There are more docile garden varieties though. The native blackberries grow right across the road. I would like to cultivate them.


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