Growing up on the east coast, I expect my trees – both deciduous and evergreen – to thrive with little, or better yet, no help from me. My mother planted pine and cedar trees when she moved into her home in Cedar Grove. When she left it some twenty years later, these evergreens towered over the house.
But trees don’t grow like that in Kansas. Last fall, as I started my adventures in gardening, I found a stick of eastern red cedar growing near some lumber we had piled in the way back acre.
I’m not fond of red cedars. They seem like scrub trees to me. with a habit of growing crooked thanks to the Kansas wind. But when something volunteers, I figure I have to accept it.
The eastern red cedar is native to the Midwest. Odd name for it since the tree isn’t a cedar but a juniper – Juniperus virginiana. I’ve since learned that I could plant red cedar cultivars that the Kansas Forest Service label as ‘superior’ including Canaertii, Taylor, and Burkii. Maybe I’ll try one of the cultivars next spring.
Meanwhile, I’ve been watching my little stick, which this summer grew rapidly. It seems a bit desiccated and brown right at the moment. Strange, since this has been a summer of rain. But when I scratch off a bit of bark, the inside is green.
Will it grow? I’m counting it as my outdoor Christmas tree this year and so hope it will green up when spring comes.
This is an addendum from my friend, long-time gardening mentor, and Extension Master Gardener, Lenora Larson: Juniperus virginiana is not a scrub tree once it is full grown. Mine planted themselves about 30 years ago and by year 15 were quite lovely. Now, full-grown they are magnificent. Especially since Tucker (Lenora’s late husband) knew not to trim them. They go dormant in winter and the needles are a bronzish color. Fear not, yours will green up in spring and about year ten you will know whether it is a girl (berries) or a boy (clouds of pollen). I also have a female cultivar of Juniperus virginiana ‘Keteleeri’, which looks very differently with huge blue berries and very thin “vertical element” growth habit. Here’s the photo I took last Thursday.
And I have to admit, they are lovely. O Christmas Tree…
Merry Christmas, everyone!