Junipers are coniferous evergreen plants in the genus Juniperus. These are hardy plants that vary in size from tall trees to ground-hugging shrubs. Junipers have needle-like or scale-like leaves, and their cones have scales that fuse together to form a berry-like structure. The most common color for these “berries” is blue, although some species can have red-brown or orange berries. (DID YOU KNOW? Juniper berries are a spice used in a wide variety of culinary recipes and are best known as the primary flavoring component of gin.) Juniper can be an attractive and fragrant addition to your garden. Tall juniper species (such as Blue Point Juniper) can be used to create privacy barriers and sound buffers, while lower growing species (such as Blue Pacific Juniper) can be used as a dense fur-like ground covering. Low growing species (like the Parsoni Juniper) also work well as an under-planting for small trees such as Japanese maples or crape myrtles. Most junipers prefer well drained soil and a lot of sun, but these hardy plants are resistant to deer, drought, disease, and mildew.
Boxwoods (genus Buxus) are slow-growing evergreen shrubs and small trees with small leaves and small yellow-green flowers. Boxwoods are popular in hedges and most species respond well to shearing; therefore, boxwoods can be used to create topiaries. Ever wondered how to create a topiary? Start by buying one young boxwood (or several small boxwoods planted close together) – Wintergreen Boxwood is a great example of a boxwood that works well. Place a cone-shaped frame (or another shape of choice) over the plant(s). You can purchase a frame or make one yourself from poles and wire. Anchor the frame into the soil. Feed, water, and care for your boxwoods as usual. As they grow, use pruning shears to cut away any branches that grow past the frame. Over time, the boxwood will fill the frame. Continue to prune using the frame as a guide, and allow the plant to grow just past the frame in order to hide it. Japanese Boxwood also works well for topiaries, while those who prefer more compact shrubs should consider the exceptionally compact dwarf Baby Gem Boxwood.