J. Virginiana 'Grey Owl'

grog

Shohin
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Never heard of 'Grey Owl' before but I was in Omaha picking up Turface and herad about a nearby nursery and went to check it out. Looked like the place hadn't been tidied, watered, whatever in a long long time. Maples and ash trees had been in the same place long enough the roots had went to the ground and the trees had grown enough to break the pots. Some of them probably 30 feet tall. Among them I found some of the J. Virginiana/Eastern Red Cedar with a 'Grey Owl' tag on them.

The price was right to give them a try so I filled the truck up twice with a ratty looking Austrian pine, lilac, something as yet unidentified, and a bunch of these junipers. Rotten time of year to be getting trees, I'm not messing with anything other than what I had to do to get them in the truck and removing some dead branches. They're just growing in dirt but as long as I don't drown them I think they'll make it till spring (especially considering the conditions they'd been growing in).

I know they're not supposed to be good bonsai subjects but a few of these trunks made me think they may be worth a shot.
 

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grog

Shohin
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The pics are of three of the different junipers. Pics 2 and 3 are one tree, 4 and 5 are another.
 

waltr1

Yamadori
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Looks like some interesting trunks. What size pots are they in?
I think j. Virginiana does back bud so they could work out for you. Keep us posted.
 

dboorde

Seed
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Nice find.

Arthur Joura from the North Carolina Arboretum styled and re-potted a Grey owl last week at the Triangle bonsai society in Raleigh just last week. He told us the Juniperus Virginiana can be styled and re-potted (including root pruning) in the summer. He said they re-pot ERC's in the summer because they are too busy in the spring with trees that can't be messed with latter in the year.

I have been collecting and transplanting ERC's all summer. All were bare rooted the tap root cut and planted in bonsai soil and I have not lost a one and they are all putting out new growth.

I let them rest in the shade and mist them in the morning and the evening.



 

Martin Sweeney

Chumono
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Grog,
Attached is an Eastern Red Cedar, although not a "grey owl", that is part of the Staples Collection at the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville. I took this picture last year at the 2007 Carolinas Bonsai Expo at the Arboretum. Wish it was better, because the tree is better than what is shown. It's pretty big too.

Eastern Red Cedar can make good bonsai. Unfortunately, I do not know the "secret" to doing it.

Regards,
Martin
 

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grog

Shohin
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Dboorde,
Sounds about right as far as how tolerant the J. virginiana are, I've been able to collect them pretty much any time of the year.

Martin,
Seems like almost all of the good looking ERC I've seen on the net have been literati, that's a very nice one. I spent six years in your neck of the woods when I was stationed at Ft. Bragg, wish I'd been bitten by the bonsai bug back then. I see a lot of nice trees posted from down there.

I realize and respect that most people will say J. virginiana aren't very good bonsai subjects but considering that they and white pine are the only native evergreens in my locale I find it incumbent to at least give them a good look.
 

grog

Shohin
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Walter,
I'm not sure of the pot size exactly, I'd guess from 5 gallon for the first tree up to 15 for the others.
 

daniel

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I know I'm way late getting in on the conversation, but I thought I'd chime in here. I just saw some 'grey owl' cedars at a local nursery yesterday, and they had much, much greyer foliage than what yours seemed to show. I didn't take any pics, but I thought I'd mention it.

So, how are they doing, anyway? I'm thinking about collecting some ERCs or even buying one of the Grey owls and trying them. These trunks are ~2" or so. Some twin-trunks as well. Could be interesting.

Daniel
 

rockm

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ERC is very poor material

Eastern Red Cedar makes very poor, labor intensive bonsai. It's foliage is always lanky and refuses to compact to any degree under bonsai cultivation. You're almost always working with the spiky juvenile foliage under bonsai cultivation, as the more mature ropy foliage will not make an appearance for years if ever.

You have to work to get these plants to establish "growth centers" on their branches to produce consistent foliage. This is done through a strict pinching regimen. Most advanced bonsaiists that use this plant inevitably graft shimpaku onto living ERC trunks and get rid of all the ERC foliage. They are also host to rust disease and although it doesn't hurt ERC much, it can wreak havoc on nearby fruiting bonsai.

Additionally, most ERC produce extremely boring trunk and bland nebari--even collected trees. The trunks are almost always straight and have no taper. Even the most drastic shari treatments of those trunks produces boring bonsai.

Big picture--why bother working with such stubborn material to produce an "ok-ish" bonsai? I'd only bother with this species IF (and it's a BIG if) I found a big weathered specimen with a trunk worthy of collection. Having been on the lookout for one of those for over a dozen years of collecting here in the Mid-Atlantic, I haven't seen one yet.
 

grog

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Daniel,

If you have access to other material I'd pass on the grey owls unless they have a seriously interesting trunk. I bought them because they were 5 bucks per at a mom and pop place that just wanted to get rid of them. I did some work to a couple this spring, kind of extreme work on one, and they seem fine. Most likely I'll keep them until I get enough decent trees to pitch them.
 

daniel

Mame
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Fair enough, Grog. I appreciate your response. The grey owls are cheap, but not as cheap as free (that being the ERCs from my mom's property.

Rock, I'm only considering them because they're free. I have seen several decent example of ERC bonsai as being heavily shari'd and jinned. Also I think that it would make great practice in trying to get foliage tightened up. Just my thought.

Most of the pre-bonsai stock I've seen out there is much, much too expensive for my pocketbook. I could afford it, but to pay close to $1000 for a tree that could die quickly without any known cause is a little sickening to me.

Daniel
 
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