Juniperus communis The Common Juniper

Gloria Gaynor uses these lyrics in her famous song “Did you think I’d crumble? Did you think I’d lay down and die? Oh no, not I, I will survive” which sum up our next tree to discuss mentioned in the bible brilliantly. The Juniper

Juniperus communis The Common Juniper

Only mentioned three times in the Old Testament it is recorded as being the largest and most conspicuous shrub of the Israeli desert growing thickly in the water courses and valleys.  It was in this very desert, we read in 1 Kings 19 v 19 v 4  – 5  that Elijah the great prophet lay down and slept beneath the same shrub”   We also read in Ps. 120 v 4 it was used for firewood  and in cases of extreme hunger its roots were eaten Job 30 v 4.   With those biblical attributes one could say it is certainly not COMMON.

So, what exactly is a Juniper? Technically they are conifers, belonging to the cypress clan, and the juniper family. They come in all shape, size, colour, habit, and will survive whatever nature, climate, tempest, pandemic, or cataclysmic occurrence that takes place to affect them.  In 1989 I was asked to take up the Curators role at Bedgebury Pinetum in Kent where the SE of England was recovering from the turmoil of 13 million trees being blown over overnight by a hurricane 2 years earlier.  It was here I first came across the largest collection of specimen conifers on a single site in the world but also a huge collection of Junipers within it.   The original collection being started in 1925 caused many of the larger trees to be damaged or destroyed in some way or another so plant rescue was the priority after the storm for the collections.

I spent 15 years at Bedgebury and discovered that among some botanists Junipers are like Marmite, and among some horticulturalists Junipers are like nectar, yet if there is a problem patch in your rockery trust me there is a juniper for it, or, If there is a dry patch with an overhang you want covered there is a juniper that will do the trick.  The problem is a lot of these plants go in and out of fashion.  But the original reference plant can still be found at Bedgebury.

When we rescued some of the plants at Bedgebury we had to take “Scions” and graft them onto the correct root stock so that they grew the way they were supposed to.  The right shape colour and form was assured, and fit for display, in a living collection with the correct DNA

In John 15 v 5 we read “I am the Vine ye are the branches, If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.”  Jesus Himself takes us as a “Scion” and grafts us into Himself as the rootstock so that we have the correct DNA so that whatever storm, tempest, or flood besets us we will survive and bear fruit.  And as for the COMMON bit no matter what shape, size, colour, or form, we come in, we have a special, talent, gifting or God given role to perform, and will do it well with His blessing, no matter what.

The guy in the video I appointed as a midyear student, then as apprentice propagator.  He is now their Head of Collections. I taught him well.

I also set up the Friends of Bedgebury fundraising arm.