Junipers: A new generation

A population of wild junipers in Bedfordshire has just been increased with the planting of six new trees

Since clearance work at the start of the year around the only known population of wild juniper trees in Bedfordshire at Kenworth Quarry, we have been planning what to do with the six potted juniper trees, steadily grown at a tree nursery over the last several years. These junipers were grown from cuttings taken from this isolated population and have reached about a metre in height.

In early April the time was right to plant them out onto the publically accessible nature reserve at Kensworth Quarry. To ensure the survival of these newly planted junipers, Cemex staff and Wildlife Trust staff, with the help of volunteers, will continue to regularly water them; once established, watering can cease but their progress will be closely monitored. The planting increases the current Bedfordshire population from 17 to 23 junipers divided between two populations just over 1km apart. The hope is by expanding their range we will ensure the long term survival of this fascinating species.

Wild junipers carry male and female flowers on separate plants so it’s vital that both sexes are present if females are to produce berries: of the newly planted trees five are male, one female. The ripe berries need bare ground and high light levels to help germination. Laura Downton, Wildlife Trust BCN's Bedfordshire Living Landscape Manager said: “We want to give these junipers the best chance of survival which is why we chose this location.”