Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today

 
 

NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.

 
 
 
 

NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.

 
 
 
 

New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.

 
 
 
 

Plant Profiles

Gold Cone juniper

juniperus-communis-gold-cone-tied-640

 

'Gold Cone' is the best exclamation point conifer for cold climates—as long as you "spiral" it with twine or wire, so heavy snow doesn't splay it open.

 

Growth is so dense that the interior of the bush is very shady, and full of brown and shaded-out needles. 

 

juniperus-communis-gold-cone-opening-640

 

With such a strong and satifying form—the cone is so narrow it's almost columnar—even small gaps into the interior are a blemish.

 

juniperus-communis-gold-cone-before-640

 

The spiral-tie is the way to keep the bush tight enough that the interior isn't exposed.  The bush is protected from heavy snowload the moment the spiral-tie is in place.

 

 

juniperus-communis-gold-cone-cropped-640

 

The tie slowly disappears from view: the twine ages to light brown, new growth covers it, and also, because it's spiraling around such a steeply-growing plant, it soon slips downward just a bit, nestling deeper into the current foliage.

 

For a permanent spiral-tie, use wire instead.  It's on my list for Spring.

 

Here's how Gold Cone juniper and Sky Pencil holly compare when faced with a blizzard.

 

Here's how successfully I'm pairing Gold Cone juniper with a sensational but tricky-to-establish vine, Dragon Lady crossvine.

 

Here's how to grow this colorful conifer:

Latin Name

Juniperus communis 'Gold Cone'

Common Name

'Gold Cone' juniper

Family

Cupressaceae, the Cypress family.

What kind of plant is it?

Evergreen coniferous bush. 

Hardiness

Zones 2 - 7.

Habit

Narrow, upright, and multi-stemmed.

 

Rate of Growth

Medium.

Size in ten years

'Gold Cone' grows slowly but steadily.  From a foot-tall youngster planted almost a decade ago, seven feet tall.  Ultimately to about ten feet. 

Never more than eighteen inches wide.

Texture

Dense and needly.  The smooth and tight surface has an almost mossy uniformity. 

Grown for

its habit: 'Gold Cone' is such a narrow cone that it's almost columnar.    

 

its color: young needles are quite gold.  The color calms down the rest of the year, but never slides all the way to plain green or plain blue.  In Spring, then, this bush really is gold.  The rest of the year?  Gold-ish.

 

its hardiness: Gardening in the Yukon?  In Novosibirsk?  'Gold Cone' can be on your must-plant list, too. 

Flowering season

Juniperus communis flowers are not showy.  The blue berries they mature to can be showy, but aren't reliably produced.  The species is dioecious, so both male and female plants would be needed for berry formation on the females.  'Gold Cone' isn't sold (yet) by sex, so there's no guarantee either that you're buying the female necessary for the berries or a male that would be necessary for pollination.  And even if you do, by chance, buy a female, it could easily happen that no male Juniperus communis are close enough to ensure pollination, either.  As is typical for conifers, Juniperus communis is wind-pollinated.

Color combinations

'Gold Cone' is gold enough, at least in Spring, to quality as yellow.  So use it cautiously around pink and red.  It's a natural "flavor enhancer" for dark green, blue, white, and, of course, other yellows.

Partner plants

'Gold Cone' lends itself to inspired plantings by virtue of its narrow and not-too-tall habit, its dense and almost mossy foliage surface, and its pleasing and not-too-bright gold color. 

 

Given that the plant requires full sun, and is so helpful in dry and poor-soil locations, partner plants will often need to be comfortable with the same rigors.  

 

Exciting aesthetic attributes in partner plants would include large foliage, grassy or sword-like foliage, wide and mounding habit, and appealing Winter aspect either from broad-leaf evergreen foliage or a deciduous habit that reveals branches that are pleasingly arrayed.   

 

For driest soil, sages, bayberry (if pruned to keep it low), yucca, kniphofia, ornamental grasses, and alliums. 

 

For soil of average moisture, you could also consider broadleaved evergreens such as hollies, boxwood, and rhododendrons; iris; and huge-leaved seasonals like cannas.  I've partnered with rice-paper plant, Tetrapanax papyrifera, which is just barely hardy as far north as Rhode Island. 

 

I've also started training into my own 'Gold Cone' an unusual evergreen and vining raspberry, Rubus henryi var. bambusarum.

Where to use it in your garden

'Gold Cone' is a shrub to use as punctuation.  Unless you're also comfortable with using multiple explanation points in your writing, you'll probably agree that 'Gold Cone' is too colorful to be planted as anything other than a solo.  Because it's so hardy, and thrives even in shallow soils over ledge, or in a narrow crevasse between ledges, it's a great plant to use as a living promontory, projecting securely skyward from even the most exposed and precarious position.  

 

'Gold Cone' is also very good at "stopping" a small hedge by being planted as its end-point.  It's equally attractive planted in the middle of mixed plantings, where only the top third or half of the plant rises above its neighbors.   

Culture

Full sun in soil that's well-drained and even dry, shallow, or gravelly.

How to handle it: The Basics

Juniperus communis is so tough and cold-tolerant.  As long as you're not trying to grow it where it will be stressed by heat—see "Downsides" below—this species is bullet-proof.  Plant in Spring or Fall; water well at planting, and then the plant is self-reliant.

 

Although 'Gold Cone' doesn't need pruning or watering or protection from any degree of severe wind or cold, it does need your help in withstanding heavy wet snow.  The bush doesn't have a trunk; branches grow vertically from the base.   If snow is wet enough and accumulates fast enough it can pile up on small twigs that do project out, pulling them outward to expose larger and larger twigs to even more accumulation—and so, gradually, pry the shrub wide open.  The easiest long-term solution is to wrap the bush with wire (or twine, as I have), spiraling up to the top and then down again to the bottom.  Wire is the permanent solution; the bush does not increase in width, so there's no danger of strangling it.  New growth will hide the wire quickly.           

How to handle it: Another option—or two?

None.

Quirks or special cases

None.

Downsides

Juniperus communis does not thrive south of its native range.  In eastern North America, this means that, south of Pennsylvania, grow Juniperus communis only at higher elevations.  South of North Carolina, even that doesn't help.  This is a species for climates with cold and snowy winters.

Variants

Juniperus communis is naturally variable, and with a world-wide distribution, a diversity of forms has been discovered.  The species itself is almost never planted; chances are it's already growing in sunny spots in native growth near you already.  The cultivars tend to be either prostrate, such as 'Green Carpet', or narrow and vertical, such as 'Gold Cone'.  'Compressa' is green, a third the size of 'Gold Cone', and even denser.  There are few cultivars in the foundation-shrub size range, which is why J. chinensis tends to rule the juniper section at nurseries.  J. communis will always be a specialty shrub, not a work-horse.

 

Availability

On-line and at retailers.

Propagation

All Juniperus cultivars and species can be propagated by cuttings.  Only the species come true from seed. 

Native habitat

Juniperus communis has the largest native range of any woody plant, occuring naturally throughout the northern reaches of the Northern Hemisphere, in Europe, Asia, and North America.  'Gold Cone' originated in New Zealand.

 

 
 
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