Barking Up the Right Tree

The beauty of unclothed deciduous trees includes one of their most overlooked but dramatic features: the bark. Especially in winter the many colors, textures and patterns of bark in selected species seem to take on a whole new beauty.

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Hide CaptionShow CaptionVariably gray to reddish brown, the bark of Eastern redcedar peels off in long strips. (Photo by Hugh Conlon)
Junipers tend to be overused in the landscape and like some comedians they tend to get no respect. Yet Eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana), an American native, has significant landscape value as a hedge, windbreak or even a topiary. The better ornamental forms and colors of this are the 25 or more cultivars derived from this species. It's extremely hardy and can be grown in USDA Zones 2 to 9, where it can tower over the landscape at 40 to 50 feet tall. The needles are a deep green and, when brushed, waft the smell of a cedar chest. The tree produces lustrous brown cones, some giving the appearance of blue. Eastern redcedar is tolerant of many soil types in full sun, fairly easy to grow and is considered one of our toughest evergreen landscape plants. The bark is gray to reddish brown and peels in long strips. Look for cultivars such as 'Glauca' with silver blue foliage or 'Silver Spreader' with silvery-gray foliage if you want something different.