Ugliness is in the Eyes of the Beholder


This is a juniper. At least the evergreen on the right is–on the left is a weeping Norway spruce. But for the purposes of this post, I am talking about the juniper.

When this garden was put in back in 1993 (before I married the house and gardens, as I say), the juniper was one of those crazy ornamental things with 5 or 6 pom-poms at the end of branches.

Time, heavy wet snows, ice storms and other things have caused it to revert to its natural shape. Several times the Spoiler and I have discussed removing it. And always, just about the time when we decided it needed to go, something would happen like a neighbor who planted their swingset on our property line. It’s amazing how much this big shrub blocks.

The final “it stays, and as it is,” decision came one February as I looked out my second story den window in a snowstorm. I pretty much overlook this garden from my den.

In this juniper, in the snow, I counted 14 American robins–and there could have been more. They were feasting on the berries.

So that was all I needed to see. The shrub stays–and of course the more shrub there is, the more berries there are.

Bring on the robins!

5 thoughts on “Ugliness is in the Eyes of the Beholder

  1. John Hric February 21, 2020 / 9:49 am

    Karla – Amazing how quick big ugly can transform to big beautiful. Or should I say environmental and practical ? It is amazing that most people do not realize that our ‘clean’ urban environment often translates to urban desert for most of the critters that exist in it. And that sometimes it takes a good while to realize what plants are being utilized by the wild life. Thanks for the story.

  2. gardendaze February 21, 2020 / 11:13 am

    Thanks for appreciating it (I know you’re a bird lover like me!)


  3. Joy Taylor February 22, 2020 / 8:04 am


    Sent from my iPhone


  4. tonytomeo February 22, 2020 / 10:59 pm

    It looks like an Eastern red cedar, Juniperus virgiana. I find that awkward shrubbery or small trees like this can be improved by pruning them up from below, or by simply grooming away the old disfigured growth. It might also help to prune it away from the spruce (which is on the right in the picture, rather than the left). limbs that get pruned away should be pruned back to the main trunk, and not left as stubs. A juniper such as this can be pruned up like a small cypress.

  5. gardendaze February 23, 2020 / 7:16 am

    Oh, you mean my other left? Sigh.

    Yes, that’s what this is. Here we call those juniper and cedar interchangeably. It is nice that it’s a native, however.

    I might scare you if I told you that we did some fairly extensive pruning on this last summer. It wasn’t so much for form–or to liberate the spruce, which clearly could use some help in that regard. But we removed a lot of the lower limbs on the side you can’t see from the photo–& there was a huge break that had to come off. Maybe this year we’ll get to the back side.

    Thanks for the suggestions.


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