I want to play a game

Sn0W

Shohin
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I'm clearing out plants, making room for new planned collections and hopefully building some benches this year. I think I've decided what I'm keeping and what I'm getting rid of.

So I want to play a game with everyone that will help me and hopefully a bunch of other newbies. I'm going to call it the ex wife game. I'll post some pictures of material I picked up, some I'm keeping some I'm not, and you can tell me what you think I saw in it and what, if anything you can see in it. Afterwards I'll see if I agree.

Apologies for the crappy pictures, I think my phone is dying. For height reference the fence they're stood up against is 6ft.

1. Cedrus Atlantica Glauca
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Morax

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I as a real newbie, see a lot of crazy potential of trying different ideas with some bends add trim here and there would look interesting
 
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I don't see any potential on any of these. Life is short, find something better.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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#1 Cedrus atlantica - Dump - send to ex-wife. Cedrus do not back bud, nothing interesting in the first 20 cm, first 8 inches of trunk. Nothing will ever sprout there. Don't waste time.

#2 - 2 non-descript junipers. - okay, no loss if you dump them, BUT, these will back bud with good horticulture and full sun. Junipers are the silly putty of the bonsai world. If you prune back to almost nothing, wire and twist up what you have left, let them grow out 5 or more years, repeat, within 10 years you could have a nice pre-bonsai ready to begin styling. There is much better starting material out there, but these could be rehabbed as a long term project if you have space.

#3 - Pieris japonica - dump the one with 2 fat trunks and one slender trunk. The one with 3 trunks of different diameters, could be worked into a 3 trunk clump. Pieris do back bud on old wood, though not abundantly, they will occasionally back bud. These like many flowering trees are raised more for the in bloom display, or the autumn color display, not because they are particularly tree like. Raised like a kusamono, where the kusamono itself would be the focal point of the display. Keep the one.

#4 - Picea pungens 'Hoopsii' - this is named as if it were a grafted tree, though I don't see the graft. You have nothing going on, no surviving branches in the first 8 to 10 inches of trunk. BUT, you do have branches a little higher up that are not quite dead. You need to save these lower branches,. Once this recovers health, full sun is the only cure, sunrise to sunset full sun. Once healthy, it will back bud on the branches though probably not on the trunk. You can bend down, wire down branches to create a believable tree even though you lost the lower branches. Dump it if you want quick results, it is at best another 10 year project to turn into bonsai.

#5 - Picea pungens - Dump it, no character in the first 8 inches of trunk, no low branches, not enough age to make ''literati'' there is nothing useable there.

#6 - Thuja occidentalis 'Rheingold' - as in the Cedrus, these do not back bud reliably. You again have lost the lower branches, and the close to the trunk living foliage. Dump it. However, Thuja will propagate by cuttings. It is a nice cultivar. If you like you can use this tree as a donor for propagation by cuttings, or air layer a top piece. Otherwise, if you are not interested in propagation, dump it.

Key to selecting good material for bonsai is the first few inches of trunk need to have an interesting feature, nice bends, or twists or unusual bark or large diameter. You normally need branches low on the trunk and foliage growing on the branches close to the trunk.
 

JudyB

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The first one you could keep if you wanted the worlds tallest literati, LOL, no never mind.... I would plant all these out in the landscape except the Pieris and try to make something out of both of these as they can backbud.
Oh, and I'd just dump the junis, and the rheingold, I have always despised (and am allergic to ) junipers, and never have liked golden foliaged evergreens.
 

Peter44

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Sorry...nearest trash can if they were mine!
 

penumbra

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I have to agree here even though I am an advocate for the underdog. In fact there is only one plant here I would keep, I am a sucker for Atlas Cedars.
 

Soldano666

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Divorce em all! Plant your seed in something new.
Hands down, the only answer you need. Hahaha I also liked the world's tallest literati. That was my first thought on the cedar too. Then got thinking... Looks skinny enough that with some fulcrom points, rebar, raffa and heavy wire you could get some movement and bends in that trunk and beat it up a little, and bulid the whole canopy out of the first branch way up. Long term plan and may be wasted effort 5 yrs down the road. Then you'll wish you did that with a tall pine or Juni 5 yrs ago
 

Sn0W

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Pretty standard consensus from everybody here. Burn them all!

Let's go over what I think I saw in them when I picked them up 1 - 2 years ago:

1. Atlas Cedar - A literati, a flared base and subtle movement in the trunk.
2. Juniper - It's hard to see from the picture but there's actually a bend at soil level by that high root, I've felt down and the trunk continues under the soil so I figured I could make a small informal upright. Small bend at soil level, strong trunk and lots of branching to be air layered / taken as cuttings.
3. Pieris - A 3 trunk clump and an informal upright, flare bases, nice movement
4. Picea Pungens Hoopsii - I assumed this was a graft but couldn't see one so I thought it may have been mislabelled. I'd seen Vance's Spruce and thought I could take this in a similar direction. Flared base, subtle curve in the trunk
5. Picea Pungens - Another literati. movement all along the trunk
6. Thuja - A 3 trunk clump depending on what was below the soil line, it's so root compacted I couldn't even force a chopstick into the soil. Nice movement in all 3 trunks

So most of these ideas I know now are unrealistic and probably impossible to achieve. One of my main issues when selecting material was a lack of understanding on what I could achieve with certain species and how they'd react to pruning.

I was just going to keep the Pieris as I'd read that they can be hard pruned before I'd picked them up and that was my game plan all along, however when I was moving stuff around I tried bending the cedar and it's surprisingly flexible. I'm going to wait for this cold blast to end and then try bending the crap out of it.

The point I was hoping to get across here to all other newbies is to think hard about material before you buy it. Research each species and their capabilities and then really examine each piece of material before you commit to it. Don't be afraid to go home and research before you buy something. If you're at a regular, non bonsai nursery, chance are that tree will still be there tomorrow, next week or next month for you to get as it's probably been there years already. Don't be afraid to haggle prices either, most of this stuff I got for next to nothing as there was little chance of selling them to anyone else.
 
Messages
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Location
Katy, TX
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Pretty standard consensus from everybody here. Burn them all!

Let's go over what I think I saw in them when I picked them up 1 - 2 years ago:

1. Atlas Cedar - A literati, a flared base and subtle movement in the trunk.
2. Juniper - It's hard to see from the picture but there's actually a bend at soil level by that high root, I've felt down and the trunk continues under the soil so I figured I could make a small informal upright. Small bend at soil level, strong trunk and lots of branching to be air layered / taken as cuttings.
3. Pieris - A 3 trunk clump and an informal upright, flare bases, nice movement
4. Picea Pungens Hoopsii - I assumed this was a graft but couldn't see one so I thought it may have been mislabelled. I'd seen Vance's Spruce and thought I could take this in a similar direction. Flared base, subtle curve in the trunk
5. Picea Pungens - Another literati. movement all along the trunk
6. Thuja - A 3 trunk clump depending on what was below the soil line, it's so root compacted I couldn't even force a chopstick into the soil. Nice movement in all 3 trunks

So most of these ideas I know now are unrealistic and probably impossible to achieve. One of my main issues when selecting material was a lack of understanding on what I could achieve with certain species and how they'd react to pruning.

I was just going to keep the Pieris as I'd read that they can be hard pruned before I'd picked them up and that was my game plan all along, however when I was moving stuff around I tried bending the cedar and it's surprisingly flexible. I'm going to wait for this cold blast to end and then try bending the crap out of it.

The point I was hoping to get across here to all other newbies is to think hard about material before you buy it. Research each species and their capabilities and then really examine each piece of material before you commit to it. Don't be afraid to go home and research before you buy something. If you're at a regular, non bonsai nursery, chance are that tree will still be there tomorrow, next week or next month for you to get as it's probably been there years already. Don't be afraid to haggle prices either, most of this stuff I got for next to nothing as there was little chance of selling them to anyone else.
This seems to be the issue all beginners have... We read about it. We we're warned by many but we still do it. We need to learn it the hard way.
 
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