Juniperus chinensis 'Kaizuka' - The comeback of a Hollywood starlet

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on 18 June 2021, 14:27

Over the years many plants have fallen in and out of fashion with the Kiwi gardener. Juniperus chinensis 'Kaizuka', is one of them. However, these striking plants are steeped in history, and are rightfully experiencing a resurgence of late, with their unique growth habit and mature form once again a favourite with designers.

Kaizuka are a fascinating shrub, endemic to China, Japan, Mongolia, and the Himalayas. From humble beginnings they quickly became a must-have for the Hollywood elite, sweeping through the gardens of Los Angeles neighbourhoods in the 1920s, and peaking in popularity in the late 1960s. These Kaizuka can still be seen around California to this day, and have matured into magnificent specimens, contrasting beautifully with the white and pastel-coloured houses, hence Kaizuka being commonly known as "The Hollywood Juniper". However, admiring the beauty of Kaizuka is not exclusive to Hollywood, with many famous English and European gardens utilizing the graceful and unusual angles of their artistically twisted branches.

Juniper Kaizuka (3)       Juniper Kaizuka (1)

The Hollywood Juniper is renowned for its versatility. They can be grown as a small tree, a specimen shrub left untrimmed, an informal hedge planting, look stunning when cloud pruned, and are a popular bonsai option for indoor gardeners. Cloud pruning is back on trend, and if you are looking for a cloud pruning option, then look no further than this Juniper. However, arguably, Kaizuka is most interesting when planted as an untrimmed shrub, with the room to grow and assume its sculptural form.

Popular design uses for Kaizuka including lining an entrance path, marking gateways (especially wrought iron gates or in front of classic brick walls), and along the side of homes in between windows. These plants are perfect for Japanese and Mediterranean-style gardens.

These plants are incredibly hardy and will adapt to almost any conditions, they love the long warm summers of the North Island, and will also thrive in the colder extremes of Central Otago and Southland. However you intend to use the Hollywood Juniper, there is a form that will fit every garden from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

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