In recent years, ice, snow, and wind have irreparably damaged and tilted a tall ‘Gold Cone’ juniper (Juniperus communis ‘Gold Cone’), that must now be removed. No matter that ‘Gold Cone’ was never gold, with barely a trace of yellow new growth in spring that faded quickly in the first spell of heat. It was planted for its narrow, upright form, which it held until ice and snow bent branches. Then, prolonged winds in a March nor’easter earlier this year bent the juniper several degrees out of plumb.
I recall the old Irish juniper (Juniperus communis ‘Hibernica’), common a few decades ago, but rarely seen nowadays, probably for some of the reasons I’m seeing that are troubling with ‘Gold Cone’. I think the old Irish juniper had problems browning in the middle, and ‘Gold Cone’ doesn’t do this enough to be an issue, but similar to other multi-stemmed, upright shrubs, it is susceptible to breaking apart in ice or snow.
Perfect is not required in this garden, but there are limits, and the tilting is a step too far. As with any subtraction from the garden, it will look a bit odd when the juniper is first removed, but it’s hardly as if there’s not enough other planting in the area. Certainly, I’ll consider something else to fill the spot, probably another evergreen of some sort, but I’ll wait until something pops up that I can’t live without (which happens frequently).
Some time ago, a columnar Blue spruce grew to twenty feet tall, and though it had a strong central leader, after every wet snow its fastigiate shape became more broad. Finally, the combination of its odd shape, and a slow fade as this part of the garden became shadier, made the decision to chop it out quite easy. The stump remains, somewhere under newer plants that filled the void.
In another part of the garden, ‘Taylor’ (Juniperus virginiana ‘Taylor’, above), a blue-green, narrow, upright growing version of our native redcedar, has grown nearly ten feet tall, but barely over a foot wide. The juniper has much more of a central leader, and so far the effects of ice and snow (and our March nor’easter) have not been a problem.
Comings and goings are not unusual in the garden. The gardener hopes for fewer, but the final demise of the ‘Gold Cone’ juniper, after years of near misses, is hardly a disappointment. Whatever goes in to replace it is likely to be an improvement.