First Juniper

kovacs

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Hi all!

I'm new to the forum, but I haven't found any "Introduce yourself" thread, so I'm just posting my first one here.

I just have one bonsai at the moment, and it's a juniper. I've been working on it for about a year now, and I wanted to show you what I've done so far and ask for some pointers for the future.

IMG_20180826_153912293 (1).jpg
1. This is what I started from, which I bought at a local nursery in August last year.

IMG_20181028_110057515 (1).jpg
2. I started working on it at a bonsai school in my city, and I came up with this a couple of months after buying the original plant. I repotted, started creating an incipient jin, chose the main branches and wired it for general shape.

IMG_20190531_154108286 (1).jpg
3. This is the current state. I already wired twice during the last ten months and did some superficial trimming every two months or so. I used osmocote as a fertilizer (once in spring and once in summer), and the soil is 50% compost 50% gravel.

Winter is coming in about two weeks (I live in Argentina), and I'm thinking two main possible paths for the upcoming year:

Option A: I'm thinking maybe the trunk is too thin and I made a mistake by starting the work so soon, so maybe I should repot it to a bigger pot and let it grow for at least one full year.
Option B: Wire the branch to emphasize its natural almost Z-shape in mid-June; repot to a proper bonsai pot and do some heavy trimming in August to bring it back to a compact tree and give it some clearer shape (aiming for a moyogi style with defined tops, but in the size of picture 2).

What do guys think?

Thanks a lot for your feedback! I'm thrilled to have found this forum :)
 

Blimpsandmtn

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Hey there and welcome to crazy!
As a more natural bonsai grower I'd let it do it's thing and go with the safer option of letting it grow more and especially has that desirable thick trunk. Design<health of tree!!
I hope this helps! And enjoy your stay here!
-Blimps
 

Shibui

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Good to hear from all bonsai people so welcome here.
There are many ways to develop your juniper. Much depends on what you expect it to look like in the end.
Dead wood is a big part of juniper in its natural harsh environment so goes well on bonsai juniper too. You have certainly managed some good growth since the initial pruning. Well done on your care of the tree.
If you want a thick trunk juniper you will need to let it grow quite a lot to get significant thickening. That will take many years to achieve.
Most beginners are happy with a modest tree in a bonsai pot - for a while until they learn more. That is the quick way but ultimately not particularly satisfying so most people get several trees so they can play more and have some developing trees growing on for better stock in a few years.
You need to make a decision about what you would like and plan to grow towards that goal.

It is a bit hard to advise on a shape for this tree as I can't really see the 3d bends and where each branch is coming from and going to.
Be a little wary of making branches with lots of bends on a straight trunk. Bonsai tend to look better when there is a similar 'theme' through the entire tree.
 

kovacs

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Hey, thanks for your replies!

If you want a thick trunk juniper you will need to let it grow quite a lot to get significant thickening. That will take many years to achieve.
Yes, maybe I should make this one a small, compact tree, and in the future whenever I'm scouting material look for a bigger plant to start.

It is a bit hard to advise on a shape for this tree as I can't really see the 3d bends and where each branch is coming from and going to.
So, here there are some more pictures and a scheme of what I'm thinking.

IMG_20190607_124916020.jpg
I think the branches are more clear here. I've marked them:
branchse.jpg
There's another branch going to the back, but these are the main branches looking from the current front.

side.jpg
From one side.

back.jpg
From the back.

I don't know if these pics help to show better the current shape of the tree. I hope they do.
So, with that in mind, this I was thinking:

shape.jpg
The trunk is already in some sort of Z shape, so I was thinking about wiring it to emphasize that as much as possible. Then, shorten two of the three main branches to give the tree a sort of irregular triangle shape formed by its several shorter branches. Does that make sense? Or should I do something more drastic?
 

Shibui

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I think we should focus on a 'trunk' as going from ground to apex. That's where our eyes move when viewing a tree. In my view, your upper 'branch' is really the extension of the trunk (my black line below). Lower growth is seen as 'branches'.
The area circled in red interrupts the flow for me. Eyes try to follow the thicker part then have to return to follow to the apex. From that view I think that side branch is probably needed for this 'balanced' design but I would try to reduce the impact of that join - extend the dead wood a little to reduce the visual thickness (must leave enough live bark to keep the branch alive though) OR cover that area with foliage so the eyes cannot be distracted.
juniper 2.JPG

Take another look at the tree from the current back. Jins can still be visible from that side as features but maybe not so intrusive - sometimes it is better to 'suggest' that to poke something right into viewer's face. Trunk line is a bit straighter from that side but it looks like the branches flow a little better to me?

Your design has some merit. It works with what the tree has, is balanced and 'safe' which is what most beginners aspire to.
Be aware that foliage and branches nearly always grow longer. If you are aiming for the triangle outline for this tree you'll need to cut the apex and right branch shorter to allow for them to grow out to the lines.

There are many possible options in nearly every tree. This could be one possible 'drastic' option but without actually seeing the size and shape of your tree I can't guarantee it would be a better one. Virts are much easier to draw than to actually make the tree look like that. This tree might just be a bit too small for such a reduced design. Black shows the live trunk. White indicates dead wood spiralling up the trunk connecting the 2 jins. Foliage is reduced to just a small area at the apex and possibly another branch around the blue area.
juniper 3.JPG
 

Adair M

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I think you’ve done well with your first tree.

So, here’s my advice:

Most beginners mess with their first trees too much. Prune here, wire there... you have a young tree that needs to grow. You want more girth n the trunk. It won’t ever develop if you keep messing with it. Leave it alone for a year. Just water and fertilize. The more foliage it makes, the more trunk it will build.

Now, in the meantime, get yourself another tree! But this time, don’t buy a tree that will need to grow out for a decade to build a trunk. Start with a tree much larger than than you want, and cut it back. That way, it will have the trunk. Branches are easy to grow. Trunks take time, and space for roots to run.
 

sorce

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Yeah, Welcome to Crazy!

Just keep the successful schedule with this one and let it fall into what it will.

Sorce
 

kovacs

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Great, thanks for your insight, everyone.

Shibui, you've given me a couple of things to think about.

I'll keep you updated once I decide what to do and get on with it :) Thanks a lot again!
 

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