Idyllwild JuniperJuniperus virginiana ‘Idyllwild'
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Juniperus virginiana ‘Idyllwild'
Outdoor Growing zone
The Idyllwild Juniper has a unique form, between a neat pyramid and a more rugged tree with upright limbs. It has dense foliage and grows rapidly to be 10 or 20 feet tall, staying less than 10 feet wide. In time it will grow taller and become more tree-like. The soft foliage is in fern-like sprays, and it is a rich, clean green without any blue, staying that way all through winter. This tree has more character than many other slender evergreens, and it’s a great addition to a semi-natural garden. As a native tree it is perfect for a wild-flower garden, and its drought tolerance makes it ideal for xeric or water-wise gardening.
Plant the Idyllwild Juniper in full sun for the best growth, but a little partial shade is tolerated well. Any well-drained soil is suitable, including rocky and sandy soils, heavy clays, urban soils and limestone soils. It is hardy all across the country, accepting both cold and heat, as well as periods of drought. Insects and pests normally never bother it, and deer leave it alone. You can trim it if you want, but this tree looks best grown naturally.
We all love to see upright evergreens around the garden – they give structure and form, and make attractive accents, catching the eye and helping us take in the garden scene more slowly. There is always a danger, though, of them being bland and featureless, ‘cardboard cut-outs’ perhaps, of ‘real’ plants. Especially in less formal settings, and in today’s styles of natural gardening, we want plants that have more character and personality. The Idyllwild Juniper is such a plant – full of character. It is upright, with a flame-like profile, but the individual branches have a twist to them, giving the bush a certain flair and ruggedness. As it matures the smooth outline becomes more broken as the branches curve a little and grow out as well as up. Some plants take decades to develop this kind of rugged character, but the fast-growing Idyllwild Juniper does it much more quickly. Eye-catching certainly, and also incredibly tough and reliable even in difficult locations, this plant stands out from the crowd. Of course, if you want to trim it each year, you can still enjoy its rich green, year-round, coloring, and its durability – it’s a win-win.
The Idyllwild Juniper is an upright evergreen that grows rapidly to reach 10 to 20 feet, with a spread, if untrimmed, of between 5 and 10 feet. It will continue to grow as long as it lives, and older trees could become significantly larger in time. It has a strong central trunk, that develops an attractive fluted base, with flaring roots and a rugged, red-brown peeling bark. The side branches arise almost vertically, and the tree naturally develops a pyramidal or flame-shaped form. When young it is dense and bushy, and over time the side branches become more noticeable, as they grow more outwards, but still vertical. The foliage tends to develop twisted shapes, so the ‘flame’ seems to almost flicker and shift. It soon develops a strong, rugged look that is very attractive in the garden.
The foliage is a rich, bright green, without any blue or silvery overtones. It delivers its bold greenness 365 days of the year, without any browning. The leaves are of the ‘adult’ type. Junipers develop triangular, pointed leaves when young seedlings, and some varieties keep this ‘juvenile’ foliage throughout their life, giving junipers a reputation for being prickly. Others, like the Idyllwild Juniper, have smooth foliage, with tiny, scale-like leaves that cling tightly to the stems, giving the stems a fern-like appearance. When clipped this foliage will grow very dense, making a smooth, solid surface. There are no prickles when you brush past or handle the Idyllwild Juniper, which makes it a great plant for close to your home and where children play. This tree is not normally seen to produce cones, so it is not clear if it is a male or female tree.
The Idyllwild Juniper is the perfect choice where you want a striking specimen that is upright and bold, with branches almost to the ground. Its beautiful pyramidal form looks great on a lawn, alone or in a cluster, or growing up a slope or bank. Plant one among the rounded shapes of your foundation planting, as an accent, for example between two windows. Use one to create a focal point to see from across the garden, or plant it on the south side of a cluster of trees. It also makes a great screening plant, spaced 5 feet apart, or a sturdy green hedge for an exposed position, spaced 3 feet apart. With its high drought-resistance, it is a great choice for xeric or ‘water-wise’ gardening in areas with low rainfall or water restrictions. It is very resistant to wind too, so it is an excellent choice for a windbreak, planted alone or with other trees.
The Idyllwild Juniper will grow well all across the country. Only southern Florida and south coastal California are too hot, and although we suggest zone 3 as a lower limit, it is quite likely that this plant will grow well even in zone 2.
Grow your Idyllwild Juniper in full sun, although it can tolerate a couple of hours of shade each day without any problem. This tree grows easily almost everywhere, and the only soil it will not tolerate is one that is always wet. It grows in shallow, rocky soils, sands and gravels, heavy clay, acid or alkaline soils, and degraded urban soils too – this is one tough tree. Once established it is very drought resistant and it needs no supplementary watering.
One of the main features of this tree is the rugged, slightly twisted foliage and growth, so we don’t recommend clipping it. It can, however, be clipped easily, at any time between late spring and early fall, if you wish to. It normally has no pests or diseases, deer ignore it, and air pollution in cities is never a problem. It is best to allow just one central stem to grow as the tree increases in height, so if you see two distinct ‘leaders’, cut one back well below the other. This will prevent the development of a split crown, which could break in a storm.
The Eastern Red Cedar, Juniperus virginiana, grows across a large part of North America, from southeastern Canada into Florida, and west to Montana in the north and New Mexico in the south. It is an important pioneer species – that is, it grows in disturbed and degraded areas, such as abandoned farms and mine sites, arriving long before other trees. This shows you just how tough a plant it is, and why it can grow in almost every garden in the country. As happens sometimes, we have no record of where this tree might have originated. We can guess that is was selected from a batch of seedlings, but it could also be pieces from a tree spotted in the wild.
For the perfect balance between ‘neat’ and ‘rugged’, it’s hard to beat the Idyllwild Juniper. Its rich green coloring is reliable, and this tough, durable plant is perfect for busy people with no time for gardening. Order now, because this rare variety is rarely offered, and it sells out fast.