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Last Friday, Sustainable Northwest Wood hosted a tour of an area that has been affected by juniper's slow but steady encroachment on Oregon's native grasslands and several projects that have used juniper for a variety of interior and exterior applications.
After meeting at Disjecta Arts Center in Portland's Kenton neighborhood to view their recent installation of outdoor juniper benches, the tour group travelled to the town of Fossil, in Wheeler County, which sits at the northernmost reach of juniper's current range. At the first stop, juniper sawyer Kendall Derby demonstrated how a juniper mill works, slicing open a log for guests to see, and then showing the group his warehouse and a variety of products made with juniper lumber.
Guests then dined at the Timber Wolf Cafe in Fossil, which was recently redesigned to feature juniper interior finishes, including flooring, wall cladding, and a distinctive live-edge bar (photo at left).
After lunch, guests arrived at a viewpoint of the Cottonwood Creek watershed and the hills surrounding Fossil, where the encroaching juniper woodland can be seen spreading across thousands of acres of former grassland (photo below).
The last stop on the tour was the OSU Extension office that is nearing completion in Moro, OR, which among a number of notable sustainable finishes includes juniper siding across its entire exterior.
Among the highligts of the tour were a series of before-and-after photos of the Fossil area, which showed Fossil being surrounded by bare hills covered in native grasses when settlers first arrived to homestead in the area.
Today, of course, those once-grassy slopes are well-populated with juniper trees, which are coming to dominate the other plants, commandeering precious groundwater, loosening the soil for erosion, and making foraging harder for the many native animals who have evolved to depend on a robust grassland ecosystem.
The tour group consisted of architecture and design professionals from Portland, as well as members of Oregon BEST, landscape architects, students, contractors, county officials, and other interested parties. The tour was sponsored by Neil Kelly, Cascadia Green Building Council, and Sustainable Northwest.
The Oregonian, Saturday, March 10, 2012
By Vern Nelson
Here's the link to the original article.
The best kitchen gardens employ structures -- trellises, espaliers and many other types -- to make the most of available space and to help the garden be as beautiful as it is productive. Posts for garden structures are available in many sizes and materials. Each wood used has advantages and disadvantages.
My favorite posts are made of juniper, which contains aromatic oils that make the wood resist rot. Juniper is beautiful, sustainably grown in eastern Oregon and locally available.
Juniper posts are available as 8-foot-long 4-by-4s and 8-foot-long 6-by-6s and are similar in price to cedar. Planks of various sizes are also available. Lengths of 10 feet or greater require a couple of weeks to get, and 2-by-6 planks are available if you want to put an overhead cap across your espalier or use them for trellises.
Because of juniper's density, you'll need to pre-drill holes for screws. Driving screws directly into juniper could overheat your drill motor.
ALTERNATIVES TO JUNIPER
* Cedar is rot-resistant but expensive. I prefer tight knot when using cedar, as it is less expensive than clear grain cedar and more stable than standard grade cedar. Sustainability is also an issue; be sure you're using Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood. Cedar is easy to drill for dowels, screws and wire.
* Redwood is similar to cedar, but it's difficult to find sustainably harvested redwood.
* Fir and pine are cheaper but rot.
* Steel pipe is durable but looks awful and is difficult to use.
* Plastic/wood fiber posts come in several colors. They are OK for edging raised beds but may bend if required to carry a load.
* Posts treated with copper naphthenate or other materials resist rot, but I prefer not to use them in my organic kitchen garden.
Posts such as 4-by-4s and 6-by-6s are less likely to twist, cup or bend than 2-by-4 lumber.
Posts of many types of wood can be found used at recycled building supply stores or at garage sales.
Use stainless steel screws to fasten juniper together. If you hide the screws with wood screw caps or mahogany dowels, use Gorilla glue to attach them. It is waterproof. If gluing juniper or another oily wood like cedar or redwood, wipe areas to be glued with acetone to dry out the oils.
Seal juniper and other oily woods with Penofin for Hardwood, Exterior Formula, which was formulated for harder, denser, oily wood. An alternative for those concerned about volatile organic compounds is Timber Pro's low-VOC Deck & Fence Formula, available in clear or 25 transparent colors. Use two coats.
For juniper posts and decking:
Sustainable Northwest Wood, 225-A S.E. Division Place; snwwood.com, 503-239-9663
For sealant, glue or dowels:
Timber Pro Coatings, 2232 E. Burnside St.; timberprocoatings.com, 503-232-1705
Woodcrafters, 212 N.E. Sixth Ave.; woodcrafters.us, 503-231-0226
Each species of wood is different and requires a sensitive and thoughtful woodworker to learn how to master its unique personality. Juniper is no exception. Its properties are different from fir, cedar, oak, etc., and if one approaches it like one would approach those species, and expects the same results, disappointment will follow.
Instead, it pays to learn the subtle differences and how to work with them to achieve perfect results. Our friends at Neil Kelly Cabinets have worked with juniper for many years and have learned how to master it and take full advantage of its unique traits. They work with it, not against it, and the success of their efforts is clear, as shown by this exceptionally beautiful dining table.
This table for twelve is made from solid juniper and shows how beautiful this species is when expressed as fine furniture. This heirloom-quality piece was built with formaldehyde-free adhesives and was finished with Neil Kelly's Nutmeg stain to accentuate the color and grain pattern. The true proof of the craftsman's love for juniper: Some of the knots on the top of the table were added and enhanced.