“What on earth is durable shrubbery?”

That’s what I said when our contractor used this term before we migrated to rural Wisconsin, then promptly dismissed it. Once we had a livable dwelling on this Wisconsin acreage, the outside perimeter of the house drew our attention. My directives: keep plantings as native as possible, nothing pink and durable shrubbery. Our landscaper beautifully accessorized the house so that from every first floor window we have a view of woods framed by star magnolia, strawberry sundae hydrangeas, black lingerie bugbane, lilacs, glorious green helleborus and …

My most coveted shrub, the Welchii Juniper.

It has a silver green/blue hue, not a pine needle nor a cedar leaf and branchlet combo.  A delicate and intricate foliage that caught my eye when I saw my first Welchii Juniper at the Missouri Botanical Gardens as a young professional in St Louis. When my landscaper suggested it for the front garden, I literally said “yes, I’ll take three of them.” Another long-awaited and costly botanical wishlist item.  Google told me “dwarf conifer which is primarily valued in the landscape or garden for its rigidly columnar form” and I thought probably durable shrubbery. Purchase height was 2 feet for each of them with the promise of 12 -18 feet at full height.

Hindsight is 20/20…

Since its planting 8 years ago, we have had three windstorms and, this week, our second time with heavy snow that brought this 16 – footer nearly parallel to the ground. I righted it a few times, lashing it to a stake. Professionally secured this summer, I was certain that my Welchii Juniper would finally prove durable.  That’s my long-awaited and costly botanical wishlist item that has succumbed to winter’s white weighty stuff again.  Clearly not durable shrubbery. At least not the way I thought. The tree has returned to full height but not without assistance. The other two examples have gotten tops removed accidentally by my dog and falling maple limbs.

I look longingly at the dwarf cedar below which fares much better in the snow, meeting my expectations of durable shrubbery. Not quite my color choice but no maintenance.  Also pictured is my son helping us clear the trail to the woods after an ice storm December 15.  All of these willows recovered their full height after a warming spell (up to 35 degrees F).  How about that sunset!


Moral of the post: I need help with this! I can’t shake the delight in the silver green/blue foliage flanking my front door, yet the work is wearing on us. Can’t quite say time to pull it and bring in more dwarf cedars…

“You can’t always get what you want”- Mick Jagger.

… or focus on the positives like access regained to beautiful woods, some of the many joys that keep us in rural Wisconsin.

Share This