Juniper,(Juniperus) is a species of needle shrub belonging to the Cypress family (Cupressaceae)
Some Juniper species have thorny and spiny leaves while others do not.
There are around sixty species of juniper and hundreds of varieties in the world.
Western prickly juniper (Juniperus oxycedrus) for example, is native to our country, especially in the area of Meron mountain, the highest(1200 m) in the Galilee.
Phoenician juniper is also native to our region and its natural habitation is in the south of the country.
It is a relatively large shrub or tree. It reaches 5–8 meters (16–26 ft) tall, with a trunk up to 1–2 meters (3 ft 3 in–6 ft 7 in) in diameter and a rounded or irregular crown. The bark, which peels in strips, is dark greyish-brown. It is a beautiful tree that can decorate any home garden.
There are also other species native to Israel:
Greek juniper (Juniperus excelsa), Syrian juniper (Juniperus drupacea), Large-berried or plum juniper (Juniperus macrocarpa)
Juniper is a very popular shrub and is often planted in home gardens. And it is much better to use juniper than lemon cypress that used to be so popular among home garden owners until recently. The best advice is not to plant lemon cypress anymore. Although it has a beautiful color and scent, it is very sensitive to plant diseases and pests. Its lifespan is short and its leaves often turn dark and it dries out after a while.
Junipers on the other hand are very strong and sturdy plants. They also vary considerably in form; from prostrate ground covers to large shrubs and small-medium trees. There are many types of foliage and leaf texture. Some are soft, others are rough, some can be spiny, as was said above.
These splendid qualities allow the gardener to use junipers in so many ways in our country. It is possible to use the variety of juniper species that have different form and leaf color and also different form and size.
Tall junipers can be used as a living fence while low or sculptural forms can be planted separately in the garden. Junipers' height range from 0.5 m up to 2.5 m and that is why they can be planted as singular specimens or as part of a shrubbery. They can also serve as a ground cover or combine with a rocky feature of the garden. Home gardens in Israel are often small and planting large trees is not recommended. Some large trees have aggressive root systems that may damage a building's foundations. Large trees take up a lot of water and soil minerals, thereby competing with other plants. They create shade and are nice and pleasant in Mediterranean climate conditions. But at the same time, shady gardens would have to many flowering plants and might be less interesting. That is why it is recommended to plant shrubs that look like trees or can even be pruned like trees that can replace trese in small gardens. These can be ornamental and citrus dwarf trees. And an excellent choice could be junipers. Some of them look like small pyramidal cypresseses, while others look like huge bushes.
Below is a list of just some junipers that can beautify your garden and at the same time, do not require too much maintenance and water.
Bar-Harbor - horizontal, crawling plant of greyish-green color fits as ground cover and among the rocky features of the garden;
"Wiltoni" - very compact plant of silver greyish color, and is also good as ground cover;
Douglasii - horizontal – grey-blue, creating a "carpet" in the garden, it is a thin plant and it looks good planted among the rocky features of the garden;
Prostrata - horizontal, green- bluish color, , a perfect ground cover for the garden;
Ramat Ha-Nadiv, got its name from the Park of Rothschild - a low shrub with a green color, looks good in winter as well, brilliant as ground cover;
Andora-compacta - horizontal, crawling plant, especially beautiful, looks good in winter;
Andora-compacta, carpet-like, green-blue can serve as ground cover plant and can even be grown in pots;
Andora-compacta crawling species of shine green color, nice shrub, has drying signs on leaves in summer, then it requires trimming.