A Tough Broad for all Seasons: This Sulfur-Tipped, Ice-Blue Chameleon Really Knows How to Wear the Pants…

January 14th, 2011 § 7 comments

Juniperus squamata ‘Holger’ atop the Secret Garden Steps in January

It’s easy to get gardeners excited when I talk about big stars like hydrangea, azalea and viburnum. And most everyone swoons over those voluptuous and intoxicating bombshells: the roses, French lilacs and tree peonies. But junipers? Why they’re a lonely and oft-neglected group of garden workhorses who’s only claim to fame seems to be gin. It’s sad really, because once you get to know them, they’re such a great bunch of broads to hang around with in the garden…

Juniperus squamata ‘Holger’ atop the Secret Garden Steps the Morning After a January Snow Storm

Take single-seed juniper ‘Holger’ for example. What a stunner. Like all great broads, she’s tough as nails, a bit cool-looking and often prickly when you try to push her around. You’d best put your gloves on if you want to mess with her. But she has a soft side of course, and in this case it comes in a gorgeous shade of mellow, sulpur-yellow; which she shows off against her icy needles in the springtime sun…

Sulphur-Tipped New Growth Glows Atop Ice-Blue Needles – Juniperus squamata ‘Holger’ and a Carpet of Thymus

All the year round, Holger juniper offers stunning blue-green color; a gorgeous, cool and soothing contrast to almost anything planted nearby. A medium-sized, moderately spreading conifer (3-5′ high and wide), Juniperus squamata ‘Holger’ is easy to care for and drought resistant once established. All this tough shrub (USDA zones 4-8) requires is full sun, well drained soil, and good air circulation. Useful as a ground cover, wind break, slope stabilizer and outdoor room divider, the design possibilities of Holger juniper are limited only by a gardener’s imagination. Looking for a way to enhance blue or violet hued flowers in springtime? The sulphur-yellow tips of this conifer are the perfect contrast. Want to show-off bold autumn colors in the landscape? Plant Holger juniper near deciduous shrubs and the icy-blue needles will bring out the electric orange and red of fall. Need a reliable, deer-resistant screen for a less-than-attractive air conditioning unit or other household utility? This year-round beauty could be the answer…

Holger juniper not only stabilizes this slope, but it also gives structure and soft definition to the lines of this hillside planting surrounding the Secret Garden Steps

The Ice-Blue Tips of Holger Juniper Stand Out in the Landscape, and Contrast with Other Warm-Toned Plantings Throughout the Seasons

In Autumn, Holger Juniper’s Blue-Green Needles are a Gorgeous Contrast to Red, Gold and Rust (Here with Hydrangea quercifolia and Solidago)

Sunny, cloudy, rainy or dry; Holger juniper looks clean, fresh and pulled together. Like all members of the juniper clan, Holger can be occasionally troubled by insects or disease —spider mites, scale or aphids, or perhaps cedar-apple rust, twig blight or wood rot— but such problems can usually be avoided when her humble requirements (listed above) are met. She’s got great style and requires only the occasional bit of pruning from artfully handled secateurs to maintain her shape here at the edge of the path. A great conifer like Holger juniper helps to give a garden year-round structure. Consider a grouping of juniper as an evergreen wall or low, living fence; a way to define the garden in addition to hard-scaping…

And later, during the quiet season, when most other garden plants have shed their leaves and withered to the ground, juniper carries on the show; shrugging off the ice, the snow and the cold. I have many juniper species and cultivars in my garden, but for season-spanning beauty, ‘Holger’ truly tops the list. She’s tall enough to rise above a drifting white blanket in winter, and interesting enough to hold her own beside the most vibrant of garden companions. Never underestimate the tough broads –they’ll never let you down…

Holger Juniper Holds Her Own, Draped in a New White Cloak on a Cold Winter’s Night

Holger Juniper Atop the Stairs with a Light Dusting of Snow in December

And Like Most of Her Cousins, This Tough Lady Can Carry a Heavy Load

A True-Blue Beauty Throughout the Seasons – Juniperus Squamata ‘Holger’

Come to think of it… If she were human, I think Holger juniper would be Katherine Hepburn. She’s a tough, bristly beauty and she really knows how to wear the pants. Photograph Alfred Eisenstaedt/Time & Life Pictures via Lifetsyle.MSN.com

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Article and Photographs are copyright 2010, Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

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§ 7 Responses to A Tough Broad for all Seasons: This Sulfur-Tipped, Ice-Blue Chameleon Really Knows How to Wear the Pants…"

  • I’d already decided on ‘Holger’ for my garden this spring. Thanks for reinforcing that decision with this post.

  • I can barely do my needed work for looking at this magnificent photography. I have so much to learn and am so inspired. I will add the ‘Holger’ to my landscape as well.

    Much obliged, Sarah

  • Michaela says:

    @ Susan, it’s a great choice, and I’m sure you will enjoy it in your garden. Happy dreams of springtime to you! xo M
    @ Sarah, what a lovely thing to say. Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m so glad you are inspired. Learning is the best part… I hope I never stop! xo M

  • Laurrie says:

    I love this juniper, and I particularly like the way it gracefully edges the top of your steps. What a multi-season gem! Your photos, as always, are inspiring, and make me think how to use some of these plants and some of your design ideas in my spaces.

  • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Hi Michaela, I remember Grandma saying… “The day I stop learning, you might as well dig a hole and put a lid over me!” I love tough old broads. Katherine Hepburn and Grandma being two of my favourites. They, neither of them, didn’t take crap off of anyone! ; )

  • Michaela says:

    @ Laurrie – I love that softening-effect at the top of the stairs too, and I really enjoy the scent of juniper on a sunny summer day. Thank you, as always, for your lovely comments. And, by the way, I always enjoy seeing you atop that beautiful horse in your avatar. What a gorgeous creature… Is it your own horse? xo M
    @ Deb – Your grandma offered up some fine advice! Tough beauty really hangs in for the long-haul! Hope you are keeping warm up there in the north country! xo M

  • Laurrie says:

    Michaela, the horse is a dude ranch mount! For years my family has been going to a ranch in Wyoming’s Big Horn mountains, one of the most beautiful places I know. Behind that tiny picture of me is a mountain scene of sheer cliffs and open sky that is like nothing we have here in New England. It’s my place; my husband’s ashes are spread there, and mine will be too some day (but not too soon). I love my garden, but my heart’s in Wyoming.

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