Tight, upright ‘exclamation mark’ accent plants give a great lift to your garden. They contrast with more ordinary, spreading plants, and help you create real art in the arrangement of your plants. Most grow tall, so for small beds and small spaces it can be hard to find a suitable choice. This is where the Pencil Point Juniper steps in. Growing just a few feet tall, and staying very narrow, this attractive evergreen is perfect to accent a small space. This plant may be small, but it is tough – so tough that even the weather in zone 2 doesn’t bother it. It grows well in poor, rocky soil too, and tolerates air-pollution as well. This tough little plant will take anything except heat and humidity, so if you garden in zone 7 or above, this is not the plant for you. In zones 7 to 9, consider instead the Skyrocket Juniper, which grows a little taller, but is almost as tight and narrow, with similar blue-green foliage.
For the rest of us it’s a terrific choice. The Pencil Point Juniper forms a very tight column of blue-green foliage that grows one to six inches a year to a height of less than 5 feet in 10 years. At that height it will be less than a foot wide. All this with no clipping at all, yet it always looks like you have just finished giving it the perfect trimming. It will continue to grow slowly, adding an inch or two a year, while staying very dense, and very narrow. In late fall and winter, the foliage may turn a coppery-bronze color, adding winter interest. In spring the foliage will return to its normal blue-green tones. Older trees may occasionally produce small black cones called juniper berries, which are used to give gin its characteristic flavor.
The Pencil Point Juniper grows from zone 2 to zone 6, happy even in exposed, windswept places with winter lows of minus 50 degrees. So even if you have a cold, open garden, this plant will be perfectly happy. It looks great mixed with other hardy evergreen conifers, like mugo pine, white pine, dwarf arborvitae, other junipers, or any dwarf spruce tree. A very attractive low-maintenance garden bed can be created with these dwarf evergreens, by mixing varied sizes, shapes and foliage. Place some attractive boulders or rocks among them, cover the bed with small stones or gravel, and just let them grow. Don’t forget to leave enough room for them to develop properly – they may look small now, but they will grow larger and rounder over time. These beds become very attractive garden features, and they take virtually no maintenance at all. This plant can also be grown for many years in a pot, making a notable feature on a small terrace. It even makes a fascinating bonsai, and can be clipped to keep it just a few inches tall.
Plant the Pencil Point Juniper in a sunny spot. It will grow perfectly right out in the open in cold, windswept places. It will grow in any well-drained soil, even poor, rocky soils, and it has no significant pests or diseases. Even deer avoid its slightly prickly foliage. Water it regularly during the first year or two, and after that it will tolerate drought easily. A little evergreen fertilizer in spring will keep it growing healthily, and it needs absolutely no trimming to keep its perfect, tight appearance. This is a truly low-maintenance plant that is always attractive.
The common juniper, Juniperus communis, grows across more of the planet than any other woody plant. It can be found throughout the norther hemisphere, from inside the Arctic Circle to high mountains on the Mexican border. Throughout Europe, Russia and China too, it grows in the coldest, most barren areas. Not surprisingly, over such a large area, many variations in growth are seen. Some plants grow in a flat carpet across the ground. Others are bushier, and a few of the rarest kind grow into narrow, upright plants. Sometimes also called the Noah’s Ark Juniper, forms like the Pencil Point Juniper were recorded as early as 1850. The one we offer was first described in 1949 by by Élie-Abel Carrière and Alfred Rehder. Rehder was the foremost tree expert of the early 20th century, and he was a German-American who worked at the famous Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. Carrière was an equally-important French botanist from Paris, and a world expert on conifers.
As you can imagine, such a unique plant must be carefully grown form selected stem pieces taken from plants true to the shape, and accurately identified. Seedling plants of this species are of many forms, but always inferior to named varieties, which have been selected by experts. Many of our customers love to collect these fascinating dwarf evergreens, and we know that our stock of this ‘must have’ plant will not be with us long. So order now, while our limited stock remains available.