A native of the region across Japan, China and the Himalayas, junipers are part of the larger Cupressacae family and are extremely tolerant to adverse conditions. The berries of the juniper are also the main ingredient of gin. Hollywood Juniper takes its popular name from the city of Los Angeles, where it’s widely used as an attractive contrast to white and pastel coloured houses. It’s an aromatic, hardy evergreen that’s well suited to New Zealand conditions; tolerating drought, wind, cold and exposed coastal areas. Another plus, is that it’s one of the more disease and pest-resistant conifers. Kaizuka is a fast-growing, easy-care tree that will thrive in full sun and shade and prefers well-drained soil. Avoid planting in an area prone to excess water, as it does not do well in wet soil.
Hollywood Juniper is characterised by dense bright green foliage, that grows upwards in a spiralling fashion on long curling branches. In this country it can reach a height of 4 metres in over 10 years. The cultivar also readily adapts to container planting and is a popular choice for topiary. Selective pruning and training exaggerate the random form of the tree to make it an architectural focal point in a landscape design. Cloud trees are frequently created from Hollywood Juniper with a garden in Waikanae, containing amazing examples believed to be the only full-size specimens of cloud pruning in New Zealand. Over a period of 11 years the owner shaped the branches of Hollywood Juniper trees to form clouds of foliage, that appeared to soar up the trunks of the trees.
That said, Junipers do not tolerate severe pruning; large limbs will not regenerate once cut back and the exposed dead growth is not an attractive sight. Tip pruning or thinning is advised. And because they can also grow to quite spectacular heights and live for many years, it’s important to understand the growth pattern of a particular cultivar before planting. Hollywood Juniper needs plenty of space to exhibit the twisty character that sees it used in garden landscapes, particularly in Japanese-inspired design. Choose companion plants that provide a contrast in texture, form and colour.
When a garden design demands a feature tree that requires little attention, it’s hard to go past the impact a Hollywood Juniper can create.
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