What makes Junipers so popular? First, a little bit about this likeable evergreen. Junipers are small evergreen trees or bushes that are members of the cypress family. Approximately 30 species exist, all of which live in the Northern Hemisphere. This woody plant is widespread in Canada as well as northern Europe, Asia and Japan, Alaska, and Greenland.
Characterized by shapes, all junipers are considered small with most reaching no more than 30 feet high. Junipers have short trunks with reddish-brown bark that cracks easily. Their leaves are short needles and range from gray-green to blue-green growing in whorls of three on woody twigs. When crushed, the leaves often smell like lemons or apples. Unlike most trees, junipers are dioecious, meaning that individual plants produce either male or female flowers. They produce a small edible berry which starts off green and turns a bluish purple as they ripen. Juniper berries are probably most noted for the flavour of gin. They are also quite popular in cooking and the medicinal benefits have a rich history with Indigenous People who have used them for many health reasons.
As a landscape plant, they are a gem. Their ability to grow in some pretty tough situations, with little care, makes junipers prized in gardens. They come in such a wide array of sizes, styles, textures and hues that they can be used in almost any landscape setting. Junipers also need full sun for the best growth. If they are planted in too shady a spot, it tends to result in loose, open growth, which reduces the plant’s appeal. Coloring on many of the blue/silver varieties may also be less vibrant in part shade. You should also be aware that some of the gold foliage varieties need shelter from hot afternoon sun to prevent burning.
So many reasons to plant such a versatile evergreen with their four seasons of interest, tough demeanor and virtually carefree nature.