Choosing blue point juniper

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I was kind of wringing my hands on these 3 junipers, but decided to wait for better stock

I figured I would post them in here so beginners can see what more experienced people may or may not pick and for what reasons

All the trunks look decent to me (I’m a beginner), but more experienced people may not like them.

So bonsai vets, what stock do you like/ not like and why? (Would that opinion change if they were 50% off?) Beginners are here to learn
 

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QuantumSparky

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Beginner here: I like the first example, not so much the second one, and the last example gets 2nd place for me. I also avoid junipers because I'm crap at styling them so take my opinion with a grain of salt xD
 

RKMcGinnis

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Blue points back bud very well so that is a factor to consider. I am not an expert only 4 years in bonsai. But I’d choose the thickest trunk because you will be able to bring growth back into the main trunk easily and have an older larger bonsai. But price is a factor and also the fact they don’t make compact foliage well. I think they are good for beginners who want to learn with experience with technique. You can also graft a more utilized bonsai cultivar to it in the future. Making it more affordable in the end.
 

sorce

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Honk Honk Bonsai Bonk!

Welcome to Crazy!

I haven't seen a nursery juniper worth styling "as is". IMO, fails across the board because they always look like nursery junipers made to look like a bonsai, not a piece of material that is made to look like a tree.

So you must pick a long term path and follow it, which includes chopping them back to one new leader and waiting a long time, not too unlike a deciduous tree.

I wonder why we are so afraid to follow this path.

There are no good reasons.

We ARE overwhelmed by "want it now", it is just disguised as if it isn't.

Sorce
 

Hartinez

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The height is of no consequence. You are buying the trunk, nebari and foliage. The first one may be worth your time at $13. Only way to get better at wiring and envisioning a trees future is through practice. Others may not agree, but cutting your teeth on cheap material is very helpful. It’s what I did. Just don’t exchange practice for quality horticultural timing. I did too much of that early on and lost many trees because of it. Just because it was cheap doesn’t mean it’s ok to kill out because you weren’t patient enough to work it proper and at the right time. The foliage will never be spectacular on any of those, but the lessons you’ll learn in the process of wiring and shaping can be invaluable if you try and understand them.
 

Hartinez

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Sorce makes a good point, but in my opinion, blue point juniper foliage is not not worth the time if we have to wait 5, 10, 15 years before we can style it. These cheap junipers are good for wiring practice and shaping. IMO.
 

Esolin

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Ditto on what @Hartinez said. I'd buy the one with the biggest, most interesting trunk. In fact, I did just that with two blue points I saw at Home Depot last year. The foliage on them will never be ideal to most, but if you like it, that's all that matters. And you could always use a nice trunk to learn to graft good foliage onto. I may do that with mine eventually.
 

Paradox

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I agree with the above.

You're a beginner trying to learn.
Cheap material is great to learn on cause if it dies, it's not a huge loss

Buy the best looking one and use it to learn how to keep it alive, wire, repot. Personally I like the first one because it's the largest trunk

Not all at once though!
Learn the proper timing to do the things
 
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Well, I ended up buying the first one. Out of the 3, it’s been the one keeping me up late at night

I think I missed it being on sale earlier in the week, so $20, but not a big deal. I think it will be a good piece
 

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Lorax7

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Pictures 1 and 2 look to me like they're the same tree. Even though the trunk on it is presently quite boringly straight, it does at least already have a low branch on it that could be developed as the future trunk line to introduce some movement. The tree in picture 3 doesn't look very healthy and I wouldn't have bought it for that reason unless it was priced cheaply enough to not care whether it survives or not and just use it to get some practice wiring. The tree in picture 4 has a bit of movement in the trunk and a few options to choose for the first branch, so it's an ok choice for a beginner.

Use them to get some practice. You'll probably kill a few trees at first, but that's ok. Just learn something from the inevitable failures. Eventually, you'll get an eye for better material, but it's worth working on cheap material first so you have the basic horticultural skills to confidently buy more expensive material later on, knowing that in all likelihood you'll be able to keep it alive and healthy for many years to come.
 
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Yah, 1 and 2 are the same tree. One’s a close up

I’ll think of the low branch. See what possibilities I have. I kind of like the gentle curve like I said

I can always keep a look out. That’s kind of the issue with nursery stock. Anything misshapen won’t be shipped to the nursery, so the style we look for is a rare find. Can get close, but otherwise rare
 

Forsoothe!

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Autumn is Juniper wiring time, say Nov or Dec when there's nothing else to do works nicely. You can get away with murder bending them, so start your planning with a crude drawing of where you want the branches to go that are on the tree now so you can draw, rip up, draw, rip up, and by the time that's right to do the work you will have worked out in your mind's eye what you want to do. Here's mine from close to 20 years ago when two club elders walked me through doing the same thing...
JcBP1 051921 Edit.JPG
 
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By getting away with murder bending it, how much abuse could I inflict with no tools other than wire and clippers?

So Nov/ December is the best time to go wild on junipers. Nice. I got a smaller Gold Coast variety I could work as well

Hmm, I do need to get copper wire I think. I only have aluminum wire
 

Forsoothe!

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By getting away with murder bending it, how much abuse could I inflict with no tools other than wire and clippers?

So Nov/ December is the best time to go wild on junipers. Nice. I got a smaller Gold Coast variety I could work as well

Hmm, I do need to get copper wire I think. I only have aluminum wire
It's usually a matter of cost for lighter gauges verses the need for strength of heavier gauges. Almost everything you do on smaller trees like you have can be covered by up to 6mm aluminum. To bend stiffer wire (and tree) becomes a two-man job beyond that or needs the use of aids like re-bar. Copper is more expensive and I wouldn't recommend it for someone new if for no other reason than it is unforgiving. You get one shot at placing the branch which sets the wire. Moving it around to a new place or second choice is very difficult or impossible. Size matters here, the larger the wire, the more unforgiving. Only someone who has experience with wire and who has a particular need should go to the expense. For a first experiment you can buy some 2 or 2.5mm copper and the general array of aluminum and occasionally use the copper to compare the two for yourself. That will tell you the different feel and setting abilities of the two. I only rarely use 4.5 or 5mm aluminum and even more rarely use copper because my trees are smaller and more conventional in design.
 

Forsoothe!

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The more severe the bend, the more careful you need to be. You can break anything. You need to go slowly, -slow enough that you can listen for and feel wood cracking and back off at that point for that session. Sneaking up on a big bend gaining a 1/4 or 1/2 inch every couple weeks is a good strategy, but there are limits. I don't know how to express or calculate the limits. Taking the time to mentally go thru a given bend before wiring is absolutely key. The bend needs to stretch the wire tighter on the branch. That means it needs to wired clockwise or counter-clockwise depending upon which way the branch is pulled. It takes me a couple minutes to figure out which way to anchor it at the starting point so the wire proceeds correctly out the branch. I almost always wire two branches at the same time and that means figuring out that central starting point because a lot of the time I need the same rotation in both directions and that means extra wire in the center at the trunk because the natural rotation reverses at the trunk so that the wire goes clockwise on one side and counterclockwise on the other side. It always matters and ofttimes takes longer to figure out the anchor of the wire than the wrap itself. The end of the wire absolutely needs to be longer than the branch. The change in sweep or arc at the tip of the branch is very important and having the wire come up short a couple inches is a rookie mistake, -penny wise and pound foolish. If you are not throwing away a few inches at the end of the branch, you're doing it wrong. Supporting the bend with your fingers by gripping or pinching the wire is the first order or level for smaller branches. Supporting with wraps of raffia or similar cloth is the next level. Everyone needs to have some raffia or whatever on hand for those rare occasions when you need it because you won't stop a session, buy the stuff, have it shipped in, and re-start a week or two later, -you'll just break the branch. :rolleyes: Doubling-up the wire can work but always using a larger size wire in the first place works better. If the second strand is put on after the bend it won't generally be as tight as the first strand and will be questionable as a helper. Putting on two strands before the bend does work. Guy wires and turnbuckles work nicely as helpers. Again, anchoring well takes thinking time to do it right rather than quick.
 
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Maybe I’ll just leave the trunk alone

I have seen the turnbuckles for trunk bending and is the same concept as when we did prebowing when welding metal frames (the metal would bow when welding, so had to bend it the opposite direction before welding, weld, cool weld, take off prebow, and check straightness)

Maybe I’ll leave that technique for other material
 

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