you bought a juniper?

I was feeling pretty down yesterday, of course, so I decided to make a spur-of-the-moment trip to Harlequin’s Gardens in Boulder. It isn’t much of a drive, since I can take Highway 93 along the foothills, though once you get into Boulder itself the trip slows to a crawl, since Boulder has apparently decided to emulate Denver with the traffic-lights-every-500-feet plan, to “help traffic flow”.

It isn’t very much fun driving alone. Cindy and I used to go everywhere together, and a trip to Boulder was always something special, when we went to the Pearl Street Mall to go into  the shops we liked, look at the jugglers and contortionists on the mall, have lunch at Himalaya or Juanita’s, and spend quite a bit of time browsing in the Boulder Bookstore. Now I drive alone.

Harlequin’s is a cool nursery, and I was planning to take some pictures, to post, but it was so windy and sunny that none of them really came out, so I have an excuse (like I needed one) to go back in a couple of weeks. I bought a bunch of plants. (Did I really have to say that?)

This is one of them. Yes, a juniper.

Not just any juniper, though. This is Juniperus scopulorum ‘Woodward’, which I guess is a selection made at the Cheyenne Experimental Station. Of course the main thrust here is agriculture, but important selections of ornamental plants have been made here, part of a tradition of planting to see what really does well in this climate.  Now I can just picture the eyes rolling, junipers from Wyoming, we want plants from back East and Japan and real gardening climates like that where everything is green.

My response to that (and believe me, I get a lot of this stuff) is that people who think that way are gardening in the wrong climate. The best garden plants come from right here, and the best of the best are selections made from native dryland plants. That’s closer to fact than opinion, because of course the native plants are perfectly adapted to this climate, and need no nonsense like fertilizing, watering, spraying, etc., once they’re established.

The other thing is sort of what you might call the regional horticultural heritage, a thing constantly hanging by a metaphorical thread because of the heavy influence of eastern-style gardening and the wild desire for a claustrophobic blankness of uniform greenery. Except for his selections of cacti, most of Claude Barr’s introductions have vanished. (Aster kumleinii….call it by its new name in the privacy of your own home…..’Dream of Beauty’ is still around.) Some of Mary Ann Heacock’s selections of cacti are still here, too, and a few other things, but these plants stand like lone ruins from a glorious past.

All of these horticultural pioneers, if you will (and there were many others), were just as knowledgeable and sophisticated plantspeople as those from England, or France, or eastern North America, and we need to keep their heritage alive, through their plants.

This juniper is by way of an homage.

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2 Responses to you bought a juniper?

  1. Wonderful homage indeed: The ‘Woodward’ Juniper is horribly mixed up with a ‘Taylor’ juniper: I should have grilled Steve Bieberich when I was there two weeks ago (he grows lots of ‘Taylor’ but lives not far from Woodward, Oklahoma where the selection was made, I think…) Plant Select has talked about this ad nauseum….

    Love your blog, Bob! You wield a pen like all four musketeers wielded their swords (and muskets I suppose)..Your homage on Memorial day resonates! Not all soldiers fight with guns.

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