Compost?

Jason

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So I collected this landscape juniper from someones yard with good intentions about 5 years ago. It seemed to have potential at the time (I used to think everything had potential). It had lots of deadwood, a two inch trunk, some taper, and some character. Then I stared at it for about five years:rolleyes:. And I watered it. And I fed it. And we still stare at each other every day.:mad:

It has few lower branches and most of its growth is spindly and on parallel branches. It takes up space on my bench and I haven't even decided whether it's worth keeping or not. I've thought about trying a windswept with it. It seems like thats what it wants to be. I've thought about a cascade. And honestly every year It doesn't get styled and I water and fertilize it I think about composting the thing.

I want to make my move this year. So I'd like some honest opinions. I'm by no means attached to this thing. Compost it or keep it? And if you vote to keep how would you style it? If you vote to compost it why?
 

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Jason

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Here's the trunk and nebari.
 

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jk_lewis

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Start by shortening all of the branches so there's no more than an inch or so of foliage one each one. Remove all the needle clumps that spring directly from the main branches, so you can see the branches better. These are ususually found in the junctions between trunk and branch and main branch and branchlets.

Then do some more staring. Tilt the pot various ways to see how a change in planting angle might affect it.
 

cquinn

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Don't remove those needle clumps. They may become your new branches. For some reason when people style junipers they automatically start taking the inside growth out first.
 

jk_lewis

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That's because those clumps in the crotches almost never amount to anything.
 

grouper52

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The juniper's a damn site prettier than that dog in your avatar, which you also feed and water every day, and yet which you are probably not thinking of composting . . . . :D

I'd lose the top entirely, and then bend the heck out of those two leggy low branches to do some thing interesting and "artistic" with them, either by bringing the foliage in closer, or by creating some interesting abstract design.

Think outside the box, stylistically, and have fun with it - nothing to lose. You can always throw it away later, and might learn something in the process even if it's a failure/disaster.

My 2 centavos.
 

Jason

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Thanks for the replies. Your right on the dog. He won't be winning any show ribbons. He does kinda earn his keep by keeping the jays off my bonsai bench (when he's not napping).

So as for the juniper, I guess thats three really non-definitive votes for keeping this juniper (or three people being nice)? And the most specific recommendations were: 1) stare at it longer 2) do something artsy with the two lower branches 3) thin out the foliage 4) and have fun.

I can do that... but I think this thing is getting closer to the compost heap. I'll let you know if I find anything salvageable on styling. So much for my landscape yamadori. :rolleyes:
 

sfhellwig

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I vote for keep. Here's why: It brings to mind a progression from The Bonsai Workshop by Herb Gustafson. It starts with a juniper much like this. Good fat trunk, lot's of dead branches. You see it step by step transformed into a stark wind-swept tree. If you look at the tree so the trunk curves to the right, all of the branches are bent hard left. It is quite amazing how the undefined mass comes into a coherent image of a sea side tree beaten by ocean spray it's whole life. Now I need to go home and look that one up. I remember being un-enthused at the beginning of the section and ending it with wanting one. It was the first thing that sprang to mind when I saw your tree. Maybe you could find a copy and see what I'm talking about.
 

Jason

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Crush up the deadwood and let it rot for awhile.
:D This recommendation is my favorite. I could rot it into something! I'll be sure to show you guys the "putrefaction progression". I wonder if John Naka wrote anything about letting yamadori rot in order to build character. hmmm.
 

jk_lewis

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There is nothing wrong with your juniper that a little time and effort can't fix. So many new people try to make something out of nothing, and get frustrated when "we" try to tell them that they'd do better trying to style a telephone pole.

Yours has nice trunk movement. Seems to have decent branching. Needs to be cut back a bit, but there are several different bonsai in there.

If you don't want it, find a beginner in your local bonsai club who does.
 

Jason

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I vote for keep. Here's why: It brings to mind a progression from The Bonsai Workshop by Herb Gustafson. It starts with a juniper much like this. Good fat trunk, lot's of dead branches. You see it step by step transformed into a stark wind-swept tree. If you look at the tree so the trunk curves to the right, all of the branches are bent hard left. It is quite amazing how the undefined mass comes into a coherent image of a sea side tree beaten by ocean spray it's whole life. Now I need to go home and look that one up. I remember being un-enthused at the beginning of the section and ending it with wanting one. It was the first thing that sprang to mind when I saw your tree. Maybe you could find a copy and see what I'm talking about.

Thanks. I'll see if I can find a copy of this and check it out. It definitely wants to be a windswept. It seems like that option has at least some potential. (I'm not sure the rotting thing is gonna work out...although I'd love to start a new trend!)
 

Klytus

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It was the abnormally long barkless unsplintered unrotted branch that did not fit with the naturalistic style.

The previous trend was for molding dead branches like one would form plywood,with steam and pressure.
 

Jason

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It was the abnormally long barkless unsplintered unrotted branch that did not fit with the naturalistic style.

The previous trend was for molding dead branches like one would form plywood,with steam and pressure.

I agree it doesn't fit stylistically. I know just the branch your talking about. I'll carve it, break it up, mold it, or get rid of it all together.

I was just attempting to interject a little humor with your comment. You have to admit it's a little humorous when people need to suggest you rot your bonsai to make them more asthetically pleasing!;)
 

milehigh_7

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Hey Grouper, something like this? then give that branch some more curve and maybe tilt it some. This is what I could come up with in five minutes.
 

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jk_lewis

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That's close, but you need to wire some up, down, and sideways bends in the main trunk, then cut way back on the foliage. Dunno how you're gonna get foliage on the upper part of the branch, but here's the idea. Then let the foliage pads grow into the trunk.
 

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