This section is from the book "The Gardener V2", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
The shrubs and trees which form this large and important section of the Coniferse are for the most part natives of the temperate and colder regions of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, and are with few exceptions thoroughly hardy, and easily cultivated in Britain.
All the known species are evergreen, and though very varied in stature and habits of growth, the great majority of them are valuable decorative plants, and as such are extensively planted on our lawns and pleasure-grounds, where, though preferring a deep sandy or gravelly loam, and an elevated rather than a low confined situation, they are found to succeed well in ordinary soils, if well drained.
The Junipers are readily distinguished from their near allies the Cypresses, which in general appearance they very much resemble, by their cones - the scales of which, instead of being hard and dry, are soft and fleshy, like berries - as well as by that peculiar flavour for which they are used in the manufacture of Gin and Hollands, and which, though strongest in the fruit, exists to a greater or less extent in every part of the plant.
The wood of all the species, besides being of a beautiful colour, is light, fragrant, and remarkably durable, fitting it for the finest cabinetwork; and that of Bermudiana, a grand but unfortunately tender species, is the pencil-Cedar, well known all over the world.
From a great array of really fine ornamental species and varieties, we cull the following as specially worthy the attention of planters of decorative shrubs and trees: -
Juniperus Communis (The Common Juniper) found wild in all soils and situations in Scotland, England, and Ireland, as well as over a wide range of Continental Europe and Asia, is a bushy shrub, growing to heights of from 10 to 15 feet in good soils and sheltered places, but dwarfing down in high sterile exposures to a mere trailing bush of a few inches above the ground.
In cultivation it is a pretty plant, with a dense bushy habit, and interesting as a distinct variety in a collection; but it is mostly used for planting in masses for game-cover, or for clothing steep, rocky banks, where the soil is scanty and poor.
Of this species the following handsome varieties are universal favourites: Juniperus Suecica, known as the Swedish Juniper, but also found abundantly in several other countries of Northern Europe, has a narrow, compact, conical habit of growth, with longer leaves and a brighter green colour than the species, and rises in sheltered situations to heights of from 15 to 20 feet; the Irish Juniperus Hibernica, found on mountains in Ireland, has short glaucous-coloured leaves, and a more compressed, sharply conical form than the Swedish variety, and in general appearance resembles the Irish Yew, with which it makes a pleasing contrast. Juniperus Hibernica compressa is a dwarfer, more compact and elegant variety of the preceding, very useful for planting in situations where a neat, close-growing plant is required. Though quite hardy, all the varieties will be found to grow best where they are moderately sheltered from high winds.
Juniperus Oxycedrus (The Prickly Juniper) found widely distributed and in great abundance on mountains in France and other countries of Southern Europe, growing to heights of from 10 to 12 feet, was first introduced into Britain about 1739. It is a well-known hardy shrub, with an upright conical habit of growth, the branchlets rather open, and slightly pendulous at the extremities, and very desirable in a collection of ornamental shrubs. It must always be planted in a dry soil, and a moderately-sheltered situation.
Juniperus Virginiana (The Red Cedar) so named in reference to the beautiful red heart-wood of the tree, is a native of the United States, where it occurs over an immense area, and in the greatest abundance, rising to heights of from 40 to 50 feet, with a diameter near the ground of 1 1/2 foot. It has been known in this country for more than 200 years, and has been largely grown in ornamental collections, proving itself thoroughly hardy, and adapting itself to most soils and situations. In habit of growth it is sharply conical, densely branched; and among the many varieties which occur when raised from seed, are found a great-variety of tints of colour, from the lightest to the darkest green. In some situations it assumes a brownish tint in winter.
Juniperus Drupacea (The Plum-Fruited Juniper) is indigenous to the north of Syria and mountains in Asia Minor, where it forms a bushy shrub of about 10 feet high, and was introduced into this country in 1820.
This very hardy and distinct species has a narrow conical habit of growth, branched to the ground; the branchlets are abundantly clothed with leaves of about 3/4 of an inch long, set in regular whorls round the stem, and of a light grassy-green colour.
Any dry deep soil, not over-rich, and a moderate shelter from violent winds, will be found sufficient for its wants; and when planted on a lawn as a single specimen, where it has plenty of space, few ornamental plants are more interesting and attractive.