Juniper Informal Upright Chop - Opinions Please!

HENDO

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Hey All,

I have a relatively decent nursery specimen here and am contemplating a relatively hefty cut.

The trunk gets fairly straight and untapered towards the top section then the leader curves downwards in a large arc that just isn't looking realistic to me. I'm thinking of chopping at the location shown in the second picture.

Is this a good call? Is there another direction to go with this one?

Also if anybody has a potential vision for this, chop or not, would be great to see. This is my first decent upright-ish material to work with.

Any support/guidance would be much appreciated!

Thanks
 

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Leo in N E Illinois

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Yes, good spot to create a jinn. With junipers, they do not heal over chops. Not hardly at all. Forever the cut surface where the trunk or branch was cut off the wound will be visible. Pretty much. there are occasional exceptions.

So for Junipers, we Jinn the branch or trunk rather than just chop it off.

Starting at the lowest yellow mark, remove all the bark from the trunk going upwards. Leave several inches of bare wood, the longer the better, it can always be shortened later. Then cut off the slender branches with foliage. Leave nothing but bare wood with no bark. This will dry and become a deadwood feature, called a "jinn". As time progresses, and the tree settles into a style, the jinn can be shortened to the right length for the style. Leave it long at first, it is easy to shorten but tricky to add back on.

Deadwood is desirable in junipers. so pretty much any branch over 1/4 inch in diameter is stripped of bark and made a deadwood feature, rather than just being cut off.
 

HENDO

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Yes, good spot to create a jinn. With junipers, they do not heal over chops. Not hardly at all. Forever the cut surface where the trunk or branch was cut off the wound will be visible. Pretty much. there are occasional exceptions.

So for Junipers, we Jinn the branch or trunk rather than just chop it off.

Starting at the lowest yellow mark, remove all the bark from the trunk going upwards. Leave several inches of bare wood, the longer the better, it can always be shortened later. Then cut off the slender branches with foliage. Leave nothing but bare wood with no bark. This will dry and become a deadwood feature, called a "jinn". As time progresses, and the tree settles into a style, the jinn can be shortened to the right length for the style. Leave it long at first, it is easy to shorten but tricky to add back on.

Deadwood is desirable in junipers. so pretty much any branch over 1/4 inch in diameter is stripped of bark and made a deadwood feature, rather than just being cut off.

Hey Leo & thanks for the reply,

Now that I think of it, I probably should've had a different name for the post - as you explain this really wouldn't be a true chop with a new trunk leader?

I think I understand, and had actually performed an ugly "chop" on a smaller juniper last year (it kind of looks like a goose now). Luckily saved the main trunk for jinn. If I do away with the trunk on this one I'll be sure to jinn.

The top of this tree just seems too thick and straight to make anything realistic, but if anybody has an idea of what to do otherwise I'm interested in hearing it!
 

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Tieball

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I’d take a different approach. I think the current low jin looks to forced...fake place for a jin. But...you might just leave it for now....maybe it will help in the future. I’d take it off or make it shorter and a less angular jin in the future once you settle on what your doing.
This relates to your initial post photos. Here's my coloring book thoughts......
CF153F00-7B37-4B74-8B62-7A00A7648AD9.jpeg360E4B8D-BDA9-44D2-9240-5F4A796749C1.jpeg
 
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I like @tieballs's approach. Aesthetically, it utilizes as much of the tree as possible for immediate effect.
 

Vance Wood

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Sorry I came to this thread late and the chopping is already done. It takes forever to get a decent trunk on a Procumbens Juniper the idea of choppine a trunk this small is an amateur mistake unless you are happey with the diameter of the trunk is the size you desire. It would be better to put the tree in an over-sized container for a number of years while allowint the laterial growth free reign until the trunk has become fat as you desire. This means you will have to stake up the top of the tree to keep it from growning prostrate hindering the one trunk design idea. It will take a few years, about as long as it would for you to find out from the results that chopping it now was a mistake.
 

Tieball

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Sorry I came to this thread late and the chopping is already done. It takes forever to get a decent trunk on a Procumbens Juniper the idea of choppine a trunk this small is an amateur mistake unless you are happey with the diameter of the trunk is the size you desire. It would be better to put the tree in an over-sized container for a number of years while allowint the laterial growth free reign until the trunk has become fat as you desire. This means you will have to stake up the top of the tree to keep it from growning prostrate hindering the one trunk design idea. It will take a few years, about as long as it would for you to find out from the results that chopping it now was a mistake.
Good point on the growth. I don’t think any chop has been made yet. It’s all what-if thinking so far. If it were me....and I let it grow.....I would keep a form in mind to assure I was retaining and growing the right components. Juniper trees can sometimes quickly get out of control and lose desirable parts.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Hey Leo & thanks for the reply,

Now that I think of it, I probably should've had a different name for the post - as you explain this really wouldn't be a true chop with a new trunk leader?

I think I understand, and had actually performed an ugly "chop" on a smaller juniper last year (it kind of looks like a goose now). Luckily saved the main trunk for jinn. If I do away with the trunk on this one I'll be sure to jinn.

The top of this tree just seems too thick and straight to make anything realistic, but if anybody has an idea of what to do otherwise I'm interested in hearing it!

One of my better junipers was done by mostly leaving it alone for 15 years. The juniper was an uninspiring cutting, which I potted in a large shallow plastic bonsai pot, a 12 x 9 x 3 inches deep pot that holds over a gallon of bonsai mix. I used a totally inert mix, just lava, pumice and crushed granite. I have not repotted in 15 years, still drains perfectly. Every year or two I will wire and twist up a branch or two, then forget about it. If I remember in time, I remove wire before it bites in. If the wire did bite in too deep to hide, I simply jinn the branch and let the whole thing grow out again. Long straight sections were jinned. Anything that doesn't look pleasing gets jinned. Over time a number of the jinns have been shortened up by mostly breaking off. I still don't have a "planned style'' for it, but now it really is beginning to have character.

For your procumbens, since you did jinn that branch, I would just let it grow out a couple years, and see what it gives you to work with. It is not a race. As a new leader develops stake it up, but wire it to keep it from being dead arrow straight. Don't worry too much about if it is going in the "right direction" as long as it is not dead arrow straight, it can be worked with.

Vance Wood's advice is dead on. Let it grow out again.

Good junipers are made by a decade of benevolent neglect, punctuated by occasional wiring up and then rewired. you might go a decade waiting for the juniper to add the branches you really want. All of a sudden, the tree will look ready to be styled. Then in one session, you suddenly have a showpiece.
 

HENDO

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Thanks everybody for the feedback and apologies for the late reply here. I haven't made the cut which is a testament to Tieball's artistry skills, I think it may have fooled some people!

After more thought I'm not 100% happy with the trunk, it's about 1" at the base. With that in mind, the current "leader" is already quite prostrate, if I don't try to stake but it is pretty stiff. If I do the cut, I will go with Tieball's vision on this one.

Also I have 14" and 16" pots on order. Can I get it into one if these decent bonsai pots and still stake it somehow? I've read a bit on soil for trunk development and the discussions are mixed - do I go with 100% coarse inorganic, or add some organic? I have some nice leaf mold and potting soil available.

Sorry for all of the additional questions, and looking forward to more feedback!

Thanks
 

Tieball

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My thoughts.

A 14” or 16” pot will be way to big for this tree. That’s my opinion. I’ve never staked a tree in a pot....I don't think that’s a good idea....there’s no ground to hold a stake....you’ll make a mess, maybe break the pot, maybe kill the tree, and regret it later. If the tree needs staking, and you want to do that, just leave it where it is planted right now and work your staking. Thick wiring may accomplish more.

I don’t use potting soil. Not even a little. I use an inorganic mix along with aged pine bark chips. It works for me in my climate and for my seasonal needs. In Houston, with your climate, there may be better solutions. You may see lots of soil comments. All different. To narrow it down....talk to bonsai developers in the Houston area...learn from their successes and failures.

My advice. Don’t go buying lots of pots until you learn more about the size relationships, and image compliments, between trees and pots. I made that error in buying pots early on....and I have lots of unused large pots....with no trees big enough to use with the pots.
 

Japonicus

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or depending on nebari and faint of heart, a bit more on the order of Tieballs sketch.
Really hard to tell not having it in hand, but either a hefty cut, both would work...

280561
 

Japonicus

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This is an interesting view. Excellent thinking.
Actually was my 1st thought last Sunday when @HENDO posted his pics
but I didn't pay enough attention to the pic with the forwards tilt.
Just one of those things ya have to be there in person perhaps.
It goes against the OPs "upright-ish" material he eluded to really, but conversely
is in line with the
am contemplating a relatively hefty cut.

straight and untapered
post.
For upright, it could be rebuilt from the 1st pic I posted with best taper and branch placement
or keep a relatively shorter piece depending on the owner.

I would shorten (by 2/3 - 3/4 length) and regrow the bottom left branch the year after repotting
whatever (no matter) the design chosen.
1580011050730.png
 

HENDO

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Hey All and thanks for all of the replies,

A delayed update here, I have yet to do any work on this one, it is still sitting in the original pot and staying healthy.

Based on some of the posts I'll likely go ahead with some pruning and repot to let it sit a bit more. If I do move forward with the cut, it will be very aligned with the art some of you have provided.

I'm now even more excited about this one and looking forward to where it might go, rather than being disappointed about the straight section which I can always cut or change.

Tha is again and I'll post updates if anything develops with it!
 

Japonicus

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Hey All and thanks for all of the replies,

A delayed update here, I have yet to do any work on this one, it is still sitting in the original pot and staying healthy.

Based on some of the posts I'll likely go ahead with some pruning and repot to let it sit a bit more. If I do move forward with the cut, it will be very aligned with the art some of you have provided.

I'm now even more excited about this one and looking forward to where it might go, rather than being disappointed about the straight section which I can always cut or change.

Tha is again and I'll post updates if anything develops with it!
One thing to bear in mind...you should not both repot and prune the same year.
I would repot 1st with all that foliage it has now for recovery sake of the roots and overall vitality.
Edit: or...prune this Summer and repot 2 years later depending on the current drainage capabilities.
 

HENDO

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One thing to bear in mind...you should not both repot and prune the same year.
I would repot 1st with all that foliage it has now for recovery sake of the roots and overall vitality.
Edit: or...prune this Summer and repot 2 years later depending on the current drainage capabilities.
Hey All,

So shortly after the last post I went ahead and just slip potted into something larger after light wiring of the top to prevent it going prostrate. A very, very, tiny amount of pruning too.

Here is to the great advice/guidance all around, thank you! It is now on it's way to trunk development and already pushing some nice buds.

This discussion even prompted me to plant 6 of my other juniper "sticks" in the ground in the front yard to get some better trunk action going on them before any major work there.

Thanks again.
 

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Japonicus

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So what's your next step and when?

This discussion even prompted me to plant 6 of my other juniper "sticks" in the ground
Super! Now come Fall get some wire on them and twist 'em up...and differently,
removing the wire the following March or earlier if cutting in.
 

HENDO

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So what's your next step and when?


Super! Now come Fall get some wire on them and twist 'em up...and differently,
removing the wire the following March or earlier if cutting in.
Well, this has now become one of my favorite trees to come outside and look at - quite glad that I didn't hack the top off just yet.

After doing some more light wiring this week I'm seeing way more options, although still having trouble finding those nice potential triangles, you all make it look so easy... I did manage to get some bend into the long/straight part at the top.

Some more light cleaning at the top to get some sun further down. Lots of fertilizer. It seems to be taking off!

I think the next big step may be to take the leap and remove either one or both of the larger lower branches. They are quite thick, perhaps disproportionate, and have smaller ones shooting out of the joint at the trunk.

Hmmm we will see. I'm starting to get the "patience" part of this bonsai business...

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HENDO

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Here are the two large branches at the bottom which could potentially be replaced by the smaller ones... or could potentially be big mistakes if removed?

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