Plant of the Week: GIN FIZZ® Juniper

OK, the holiday season is officially here. I am proud to be one of the curmudgeons who complain about tinsel and Jingle Bell Rock appearing before Thanksgiving.

Now it’s appropriate to put up those Christmas trees and sing some carols. For many people, holiday cheer involves a special cocktail. Gin, in particular, seems to be having a moment. So it seems right to have a juniper named Gin Fizz®.

But unlike many other holiday treats, gin doesn’t have to be a seasonal pleasure: both the beverage and the plant have year-round appeal. And while you should limit yourself on the cocktail consumption, you can plant as many junipers as you like!

Gin Fizz® Juniperus chinensis is a showy juniper that we’ve been considering for several years. We loved the plant – the berry set is just spectacular – but hesitated. It is, after all, a juniper, and were we just being crazy plant geeks to get that excited about a prickly evergreen?

No, it’s really that great. Nice habit, good color, and those berries! Plus it’s a durable and deer-resistant evergreen so you can enjoy it during gin and tonic summers and martini winters.

Gin Fizz® is hardy to USDA 4-8, and grows best in full sun. It gets 10-18′ tall and 7-10′ wide. This is a great choice for some challenging conditions, including alkaline soil and salt spray.

Plant breeding is having a moment, too.

In the past few weeks I’ve seen a number of news pieces about plant breeding. Even when the stories aren’t about ornamental plants, I think it’s great. The horticulture industry needs to do a better job of selling the value of what we do, and part of that is educating people about what it takes to develop a new plant. Check out this one about developing a new apple variety. Or this one about tomatoes. The tomato one reminds me of complaints about roses – people want the disease-resistance but then are disappointed that the fragrance isn’t there. Ah, At Last®…

Many people are surprised to learn that it can take years to breed and select a new plant, and then they’re surprised at the logistics of producing enough of something for the marketplace. Yes, we are real businesses and have to think strategically just like any other enterprise would. After all, the breeding is just the first part; you need to plan your production and sales, too. And while the widget manufacturer thinks about next season, you’re planning three, five, sometimes ten years ahead.

So let remind people that a good plant, like money, doesn’t just grow on trees.

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