California juniper trip

Bonsai Nut

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So what do you do in Southern Cal in the Winter when your trees are dormant? Go juniper hunting!

Everyone has their special spots. I have a special location that is only a few hours drive from my house. Best trees are on the mountainsides, but I didn't have much time today so I went valley slumming.

First, a photo of someone's broken water supply line. It was COLD up there this morning!



Pines and junipers as far as the eye can see. Also tons of critters - quail, rabbits, pigeons - and LOTS of feral dogs.



Hey - digging is hard work - would somebody mind bulldozing a couple of acres of junipers into a pile so I can select what I want? Sad to see the destruction, but I wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth.



A picturesque tree. One little live branch and all the rest deadwood.



Another interesting tree. Note all the juniper berries.



Too little time. Rescued a decent tree from the garbage pile, but I prefer not to share photos until I know it has survived. Next time I won't have to be back by 2:00 PM and I'll head up the mountainside.
 

Tachigi

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Take me.....take me pleazeeeeee I have some outstanding collecting sites but damn. Those are some tasty bits you got to pick over Greg. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to take these pictures and a little baby oil and excuse myself.
 
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John Hill

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Man I envy you BonsaiNut must be nice to just drive a couple hours and be in heaven.

A Friend in bonsai
John
 

JasonG

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What are the roots like when you collect from this soil?? I would think that they run quite aways.....

I have got to know several major collectors and bonsai people out of Claifornia over the past few years and I hear horror stories of the survival rates when collecting junipers out of California. Most of this is due to not being able to get a good root ball.

Nut, what is your experience on this?

Thanks,

Jason
 

Bonsai Nut

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Depends on a number of factors - probably the most significant being where you collect. If you collect from down in the valleys, the trees are bigger, the soil is looser, and the root balls are more compact. Up on the mountainside, the trees are smaller, the soil is very rocky if not almost entirely rock, and the root balls are much more tenuous - sometimes long sinuous roots that weave between large rocks that you cannot move / remove. California juniper tends to grow as a multi-trunk clump. Often several of the trunks will die leaving behind a part of a live tree and fantastic sculpted deadwood. Sometimes the individual trunks will get silted in an form separate root systems - almost like raft style bonsai. In these cases you can actually remove one of the trunks with enough root system for it to survive, while still leaving behind the parent tree in a healthy condition.

It is critical to acclimate junipers SLOWLY to live in a container. I only dig mine when they are dormant in the Winter. Then I keep them in COMPLETE shade for 4 months - or until I see new growth sprouting (typically early Summer). The first summer I treat them like Japanese Maples - any heat, or dry wind, and they go under shade cloth or into complete shade. I don't collect many (typically only one at a time), and I really baby them, so I have never lost a single tree.
 

Tachigi

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so I have never lost a single tree.
Most admirable Bnut. True gems like those do command that type of attention. It is always refreshing to hear someone say, "I only collected one". Instead of some that do mass collections, with incredibly high mortality rates. Such greed and waste really crosses my grain.

I was wondering have you tried using sphagnum prior to collection to stimulate fine roots, in cases of junipers with wandering roots?
 

Bonsai Nut

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I was wondering have you tried using sphagnum prior to collection to stimulate fine roots, in cases of junipers with wandering roots?
No I haven't. I live too far away to try to treat trees, then come back later to dig them up. (Though I did prune a nice little pine that I will keep my eye out for next year). What I do is look at trees, evaluate them for potential, and then decide if they could be dug up. If they are too big or too difficult to dig, I take a picture and move on :) This last trip was a little different. I pulled a tree out of a pile of cleared brush. I have no idea how long it had been out there, but I would guess only a day or two. Thank goodness for the cold weather. At any rate, I have never tried "saving" a tree that had been more or less dry-rooted. I assume the odds are slim. However I am always up for a challenge, and I will feel really good if the tree survives. However it was a bigger tree than I was looking for, so it took up the back of my SUV and I didn't have any room to try for another that would come with a more substantial rootball. Time will tell.

The trees down in the valleys are really easy to dig and have decent rootballs - the soil is almost entirely sharp gravel/sand. The trees on the mountain are the pickax/demo tool variety. You are more likely to find contorted trees on the mountain and upright trees in the valley, but not always. You have to know where to look.
 

rlist

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Nut-

If the tree was dormant, was truly uprooted a few days before, and you baby it - you should have no problem getting it to survive. Good luck. Send us pics when you feel comfortable!
 

John Hill

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Nut,
How about some pics? I would love to see them. Junipers have a soft spot in my heart.
So post some of your pics. Please?

A Friend in bonsai
John
 

Bonsai Nut

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Nut,
How about some pics? I would love to see them. Junipers have a soft spot in my heart.
So post some of your pics. Please?
Both trees are still looking good after 6 weeks, so I am cautiously optimistic. I will probably post pics somewhere around early April. These two trees are nice but they are nothing earth-shattering. I just like the fact that I was able to save a tree that had been bull-dozed and left to die. I would love to improve it to the point where I could put it in a show some day. It would make a great story :)
 

Dwight

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Well it's way past early April and still no pics. Come on and fess up.
 

Bonsai Nut

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Both trees are alive but are not yet what I call "thriving". I have had minimal die-back on both trees, with some strong back-buds (normally a good sign) but neither tree is really pushing a lot of new growth. It should be just a question of time and cautious care. Reminds me of an old gardening poem:

First year they sleep,
Second year they creep,
Third year they LEAP!
 

markatulio

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Both trees are alive but are not yet what I call "thriving". I have had minimal die-back on both trees, with some strong back-buds (normally a good sign) but neither tree is really pushing a lot of new growth. It should be just a question of time and cautious care. Reminds me of an old gardening poem:

First year they sleep,
Second year they creep,
Third year they LEAP!
Great post Bonsai Nut. So did they make it?
 

sorce

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Damn 07!

Nice!

Sorce
 

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