CO-Horts

CO-Horts

Friday, July 15, 2016

Multi-Site Woody Plant Trial 2006 Planting: Woodward Columnar Juniper

A mature Woodward juniper at the Colorado State University Arboretum 


The Colorado Multi-Site Trial of Woody Plants evaluates the suitability of “new” and underused woody plants across the various climates of the Colorado.  For more information about the trial and test sites see this previous post.  

The 2006 planting of the trial contained a number of interesting plants.  Some of which were very successful  and some which struggled or failed to survive.

The 2006 planting at Harding's Nursery outside of Colorado Springs

2006 Planting:
·       Acer monspessulanum (Montpelier maple)
·       Juniperus scopulorum ‘Woodward’ (Woodward columnar juniper)
·       Larix decidua (European larch)
·       Prunus serrotina (Black cherry)
·       Pyrus ussuriensis ‘Burgundy’ (‘Burgundy’ ussurian pear)
·       Quercus polymorpha (Monterey oak, Netleaf white oak)
·       Quercus undulate (Wavy leaf oak)


One of the plants which is particularly promising based on its performance during the five year trial period is the Woodward columnar juniper.   I know using the word “promising” in the same sentence as “juniper” has caused me to lose credibility with a significant portion of those reading this but hear me out; this is a really worthy plant.  Woodward performed well in the trial and consistently demonstrated both adaptability to our climate and ornamental features which would make it an asset in a variety of landscapes.



Woodward columnar juniper in Fort Collins in the spring of 2016. 


 Woodward was “rediscovered” by Front Range horticulturalists growing at the then defunct Cheyenne Horticultural Field Station.   It is a cultivar of Rocky Mountain juniper selected for its upright habit and strong apical dominance.  As a species, Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum) is valued as a reliably cold hardy (Zone 3) and drought tolerant conifer.  This bore out with Woodward in the trial.   Across all the sites only a handful of plants did not survive the five year trial.  We observed little winter desiccation, wind burn or pest issues on any of the trial plants.  It is even more notable that we did not observe any damage from snow loading as such damage often plagues woody plants with upright habits.   This may be due to Woodward’s relatively small and shorter lateral branches and strong apical dominance.  The trial plants retained their narrow form and were remarkably consistent in their width across all five planting sites.   More than all this, they were attractive. They had a soft blueish green needle color and a “stately” form.

  
Mean width data for Juniperus scopulorum 'Woodward' the trial five sites.

Based on the data from the trial it appears Woodward columnar juniper is a tough plant which can be grow successful throughout the state.  Its well suited for small landscapes or tight spaces and could be used as a screen or even as an interesting specimen.  It was promoted by Plant Select in 2015 and was in high demand.  So, if you are interested in planting one get to the nursery early next year!    

Woodward juniper in Orchard Mesa in 2010

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