Saturday, July 11, 2020

The Old Juniper Tree And Me ~ Part 2

I posted the first part of the tale of the old Juniper Tree and Me in August, 2016. I will share a few pictures below from that post and then tell the story of the big snowstorm of 2019, of damage done and damage repaired. It's interesting to me how much you can come to care about one particular tree of the many that surround you.


I've always liked this juniper tree, so large and healthy. But like an overgrown hairdo, it needed some trimming. It's too close to the house and branches dragging on the ground are not allowed within 100 ft of structures here for fire safety reasons.

I didn't know how much I could do by myself. I had never tackled a juniper before, but I brought my lopper and started trimming the twigs off the larger thicker branches. 

Looking at the thick, twisted and gnarled trunk of this tree, I believe it must be pretty old. Some California Junipers may be more than 250 years old. And they are the only trees growing on my property, except for a few others planted by people. The latter are not doing well in the drought and may all die before it's over. Several junipers have also died, but most are doing OK.

I loved sitting inside the canopy of this tree, resting. It's a magical world in there, so shady and quiet. With the ground covered by juniper "berries" that are not berries at all, but cones, a favorite autumn food of our local black bears, coyotes, as well as birds, rabbits, ground squirrels and other small animals. 

The junipers were also important to the native peoples of this area, who would eat the berries and use the wood for bows, arrows, and other tools. 

I was thrilled, it went really well. Glenn helped me cut back the thicker branches, but I did a lot myself. This is the end result. The tree thrived for the next three and a half years.

Then, the day after Christmas last year, an epic snowstorm arrived dropping about two feet of wet and heavy snow on the canyon.

The junipers left in their wild state did pretty well, but those that we were mandated to trim back did not. I tromped as far as I could in the heavy snow and took a few pictures. My tree looked bad, its top broken, its branches weighed down by the heavy snow.

I felt a sense of loss, but hoped that most of the tree could be saved in the spring. I hoped that it would thrive again while abiding by laws designed to protect its human caregivers from fires.  

Spring arrived and I asked Mark if he could cut down the injured parts of the tree. He could and this is what's left of the tree now. If left in peace to grow and thrive, I think it has a good foundation. But what a difference from what it once was.


  1. I truly enjoyed your story of your favorite juniper tree even though it doesn't have a happily-ever-after ending are not one that I would like to have had. I do hope it will make it and get bigger and grow and be healthy. I know that the wild life depends on the the food and the shade. I could feel myself sitting under those branches in the shade but then I thought about the rattlesnakes and I thought maybe not. I love trees and I to have favorite trees

    1. It's not exactly crawling with snakes here. Last year I saw none, so I think you would be safe. And how great it would have been to see you, my friend, in person.

  2. Is this the tree for juniper berries for gin? I'm glad you managed at least to preserve it in part. Hard to strike a balance between human safety and natural growth.

  3. Love how you tamed it the first time. I have a Forsythia in dire need of such a trimming. Boud beat me to it. I was going to say if you wanted to make some bathtub gin, you have the berries for it:)
    It looks like it will make it though and again thrive.

  4. I love trees too and once cried when a tall pine tree had to be by the corner of our lot by the road because it was a hazard due to rot. I felt such a loss as if I lost a best friend. I wondered all the history that had happened while it lived in our neighbourhood.

    It is sad that you lost so much of the beautiful shade. I hope it will fully recover. Junipers are pretty tough trees.
    Thanks for sharing your tree story. We all like to read about what is happening at your place.
    Hugs, Julia

  5. Hi Inger - I loved the tale of your Juniper tree and your love for it. I'm sure it will survive - and I guess, of course, if you'd let it be - the snow would have trimmed it for you. There's one on the Canary Islands ... that looks distinctly more woe begone, haggard and straggly ... but gainfully struggling on ... see it in Wiki ... as too the Plymouth Gin factory here in the UK - too far for me to get to at the moment!!

    Lovely story - thank you ... take care - Hilary

  6. That's too bad about your tree but I bet it comes back stronger than ever!

  7. Like how you first described the tree as an over grown hairdo. :)

  8. Hello Inger!
    I always love to see the photos of the Juniper Tree!
    I hope that most of the tree could be saved in the spring!

  9. It survived and will continue to give you shade as it grows again. I enjoyed the story and you sound like me - i get out there and do a lot of the yard work. Anyway we had first off that really big storm over thanksgiving weekend 2019 - did it hit you up there. It caused the most damage ..lots of fallen trees and limbs on our property and what a mess ...a power outage for a week. then christmas came and the storm you are talking about - did a lot more of a mess up here like the thanksgiving one. We have put out at least three big roadside piles of limbs etc...for the chipper that has come by three times in the last months. I think we're done except for some minor clean up on a very slanted hill on the property. I love it here but not when the power goes out and the damage is done by storms. I don't think I've seen junipers around here. In the yard we have most incense cedar trees.

    1. We had no power either and since I don't use the woodburning stove any more, no wood and I was freezing!

  10. we had a huge thunderstorm and high winds last night. very unexpected. lost power for many hours. but those brave men who work the lines got it back on.
    it's not cold here but excessively HOT!
    that's a bittersweet story about your beloved juniper. I love trees. I cry over them.
    they're like people to me I suppose. I've never tried to fight that feeling. I've just always felt that way about them even as a child. xo


Thanks for leaving a comment.. ~~ Inger


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