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Best Junipers for Topiary Applications?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Whitey4, Jan 1, 2009.

  1. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,448

    First, let me say I've seen the word topiary used for everything from formal "English" style hedgerows to pom-pom and sculptures. For the purpose of this thread, I use the word topiary only to imply plants that tolerate heavy pruning and shaping.

    I have seen one particular jumiper which had prolific fruiting. Cones with a berry-like blue-ish color with a white "powder" appearance. I believe it is a Juniperus chinensis Keteleeri, but I am not cetain of the ID. It could also be a Juniperus scopulorim Medora I believe.

    Which of these two junipers lend themselves best to hard pruning and shaping? Does anyone prefer another Juniper for this?

    I have several landscaping jobs I could use these in coming up, but one in particular calls for an eventual height of about 6 feet tall, about 3 feet wide. I won't be shaping these as much as hard pruning to keep them at the desired size for the location and application. I also prefer prolific fruiting for added winter interest.

    Any help appreciated!
  2. Tuna3679

    Tuna3679 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 96

    this isn't exactly what your talking but i've had a lot of success with wire frames and confederate jasmine
  3. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,776

    That's a tough one Whitey.

    I have had good luck with just about any standard Juniper when it comes to pruning. It seems to be just a matter of finding the right height to start with and getting a good shape to begin with.

    Too small and it seems that I have to wait many seasons just to get the right size and shape to achieve the topiary look that I'm after.

    Too big, and the shape will never be what I'm looking for without taking too much off and having bare spots that never seem to fill in.

    As for Height, I tend to go with standard upright junipers, though they tend to look a little ragged as they get to maturity, but tend to not get out of hand width wise.

    Fruit wise, it seems that the more pruning a Juniper gets the less likely hood they will produce fruits in a season. Rarely do I see fruiting on a pruned juniper.

    Might want to look around some British sites to see what they use, they're big on their topiarys.

    Unfortunatly I think the two types you brought up might not take heavy prunnings, but that's just from reading about them and not having any experiences with them.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2009
  4. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,776

    Another Thought Whitey.....

    I'm making references to more needle like junipers. Are you looking for a type with a broader leaf structure similar to an arborvitae?
  5. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,448

    My next door neighbor has a "two ball" sort of one on top of the other pom-pom topiary. I started doing his pruning last year. The description fits both the medora and keleteer, and the cones are prolific, even on this heavy pruned topiary. In fact, the reason I like it so much is soley because of the bluish berry like cones... tons of them.

    I've also never seen another topiary juniper fruit like this one does. That is why I suspect it might be a keteleeri, as that type is supposedly the most prolific cone bearers amoung the junipers.

    This plant is approximately 10 years old, about 5' tall, and the pom-poms are almost round, a bit oval on the horizontal plane and about 2.75 feet in diameter, one above the other. The trunk is about 3 1/2" wide at the base, and about 2 1/2" between the pom-poms.

    It was obviously topped and grown in the nursery as a topiary. I know the home owner has no clue what variety it is. Obviously, it has taken heavy pruning but still fruits prolifically.

    I have several plantings I could use these in. I can get 4-5' B&B keteleeri's for $69 each in low vlome. I'd like to use them in some foundation beds to hide imperfections and wiring, hose faucets etc. attached to some of my customer's homes with this juniper... but I really would like to match this particular plant. The cones are very interesting for the winter garden in my opinion.

    Can't find the link, but did find one site that said the keteleeri is adaptable to topiary shaping. I think this plant is too wide (at the pom-poms) to be a scapulorum medora. I've also read it will take at least a year and a half after transplanting before fruiting.

    Again, I won't be doing "real topiary" pruning on them, but heavy shaping, topping them at 6 foot, and keeping them dense and tight.

    Thanks for the feedback.... as an aside, I have seen many topiaries (not my favorite plant form) that are junipers like hetzis, but there are several kinds of hetzis too, and which ones are best for topiary applications I'm not sure.

    Any nursey men out there doing topiaries?

    From one guy named White, to another (I think) thanks for the reply.

    PS: This does happen to be something of an arbovite look-alike, but it's the cones that I find so appealing, more so than the leafing. The leafing on the keteleeri and medora are both scaling types, less needle-looking.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2009
  6. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,776

    If you could take a pic Whitey, that would be great.

    You've got me looking through all my books, but I need to narrow down my search.

    I like challenges, Thumbs Up

    I've seen a few varieties at the local nurseries that have the pom-pom shape, and I'm wondering if it's the same as your describing.

    The only other thing that I can think of why it is fruiting is that there is a male in the vicinity, but you said that it is only one.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2009
  7. The Elements Group

    The Elements Group LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 310

    Are these going to frame in an entrance or anything of that nature? Full sun area i presume , (if not let us know), another option to consider is having a container with a specimen (ornamental of course) and surrounding the edges with seasonal color (means more money and diverse options) also if up against a wall try an espallier (depending on the zone of which you reside. And yes, pictures do help in this situation. best of luck and Happy New Year.
  8. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,448

    I will take a pic tomorrow... and post it, or a couple of pics. A close up, a medium distance and from a few feet away.

    One place in particular I want to use these... an attached garage that was enclosed and converted to living space. The contractor did a lousy job with the brickwork. The bricks don't match the color of the original bricks, and he did not "alternately" lay them... he just cut some of the existing bricks in half! It looks lousy! There is a small foundation bed in front of this butchered brickwork, and I want to install two of these junipers in front of the "seams".

    A couple of six footers will help hide the poor masonary job. I can balance the rest of the bed with other plantings. These two will frame a double set of double hung windows located in the middle of where the old garage door was. Maybe I can take a pic of that too.

    They will be installed on an eastern exposure... full sun from sunrise to until about 1pm.... should be more than enough I figure. This bed is not on the sprinkler system, and the home owner cares... they will water as directed, so the junipers won't have any wet feet problems.
  9. Dreams To Designs

    Dreams To Designs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,406

    I have had good luck with Juniperus chinensis 'Spartan' for the size you seek. It will naturally stay tight and you should be able to keep them at less than 6" with minimal pruning. The berry set is good, but Spartan is green and holds it's color well throughout the winter. I also work in zones 6-7B and similar soil situations to what you have on Long Island. The Keteleeri makes a great candidate for shaping and topiary, but they must be started young to reveal their best shape. The color and the berry set are definite focal points in a landscape, but try to use three to distract away from the ugly brick, rather than frame it with two.

  10. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,448

    Attempting some pics:





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