Narrow column-like evergreens are among the most useful plants available, and they can be used in many different ways in landscapes and gardens. Paired on either side of a door or entrance they give a welcoming formal look. Clustered in threes and fives behind other shrubs they are great space fillers and excellent backdrops. Lined up along a driveway, path, or along a fence, they give a calm, quiet and ‘finished’ look. Planted closer together they make the perfect hedge or screen for a narrow space. In pots and planters they are excellent exclamation marks, and bring height to any small space. They have a valuable place in every garden, and the best ones need no trimming, but always look neat and tidy all by themselves. If you are looking for an evergreen column like this, that is also incredibly cold-hardy, drought resistant and reliable in every way, then look closely at the Taylor Juniper, a selection of a rugged American bush, found on the open prairies of Nebraska.
The Taylor Juniper grows naturally, without trimming, into a tight column of silvery blue-green foliage, reaching 18 feet or more, and staying a mere 3 feet wide. The foliage grows right to the ground, in dense clusters that fill out the form perfectly, and never become untidy. If you are keen on a super-formal look, or you want to create a tight hedge, then yes, you can trim as needed, and the growth will become even denser and tighter, but trust us, you really don’t need to trim for a totally neat look. Older plants produce clusters of small, blue-black berries that add visual interest. They are also edible, like the classic European juniper berry, but with a milder, less bitter taste. They can be used for flavoring stews and meat, especially deer, boar and other game meats. If you don’t eat them, the birds will, and many species, including cedar waxwings and bluebirds, use them as a valuable food source.
Growing Taylor Junipers
The Taylor Juniper is a rugged plant, capable of surviving in exposed places, so it can be used to create a tough barrier that will resist wind, cold, saline soil and salt spray, as well as drought and poor soil. Whatever nature throws at it, the Taylor Juniper will persist, after a little care to help it become established. Not only is this plant handsome and perfect for creating vertical accents in your garden, or giving a formal touch to it, but it is also terrific for new gardens, urban conditions, exposed sites, beach frontage, and other difficult areas. In colder zones the foliage color becomes richer and darker in winter, and it may take on some bronze coloring too.
Planting and Initial Care
Plant your new Taylor Junipers in full sun, for the best dense growth and foliage color. They will grow in any well-drained soil, including sandy and rocky soils, alkaline soils, salt-contaminated soils, urban soils, and just about any soil at all, except for wet ones. Wherever you live you can grow this tough plant, because it is hardy all the way from zone 3, with winter lows of minus 40, all the way through into zone 9, with its summer heat and humidity. It rarely suffers from pests or diseases, and deer and rabbits normally leave them alone. Finally, unlike many other tough plants for starting a garden, they are long-lived, becoming better and better as they age.
History and Origins of the Taylor Juniper
The red juniper, Juniperus virginiana, is also called eastern redcedar, although it is not a true cedar. It grows naturally throughout the eastern states, from eastern Texas to the Atlantic, and north to most of the Great Lakes. It naturally grows in open, grassy areas, as well as along highways, in abandoned fields and on old construction sites. This ability to colonize difficult places is why it comes well-equipped to grow in difficult garden locations too. The tree is durable – the oldest known is over 900 years old – and it can grow over 80 feet tall and over 5 feet wide, although normally it is smaller than that. It naturally has an upright, narrow form, but it is very variable, and most plants are open and irregular in form.
The late Allen Wilke ran the Wilke Landscape Center in Columbus, Nebraska for many years, and he was an active board member of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum. That unique group maintains over 100 parks and arboretums across the state, in different growing areas. Allen Wilke had a sharp eye for plants, and in the 1970s he was around Taylor, Nebraska when he spotted a very special juniper growing in the grasslands. I was much neater and narrower than normal, with beautiful silver-green foliage. He took some pieces, and these became the original Taylor Juniper. The new plant was released by the Arboretum in 1992, and it was one of their ‘GreatPlants Introductions’ for 2003. Our plants are derived from those original pieces, and they will grow just as narrow and tight as the plant Allen Wilke spotted that day. Such rugged and yet beautiful plants are hard to find, and gold when we do find them, so the demand for this tree is huge, and our supply small. Order now, while our stock holds out.