Juniper ?s Not a beginner, but completely new to the genus

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Quick background, very familiar with pines and maples. Fairly knowledgeable about a handful of other genus, and completely clueless about some others. Juniper had never done anything for me, I won't name all the reasons because it doesn't matter. But I've recently been working on some ancient twisted up old junipers with really skilled artists. Imagine Todd Schlafer asking me what branch should be removed on a 500 year old RMJ while I carve too deeply into a live vein. If you're cringing, imagine how I felt. But Todd, that same day, gave me a piece of advice I already knew to be true. "If something intimidates you, you should probably do it". That was probably the third or fourth time I worked with a juniper that was older than my grandfather and I still didn't feel like I had picked up much about the genus. Usually I research a genus or species I love very extensively. So I started diving in, at my last workshop I subbed out my comfortable spruce for a shimpaku juniper at the last second. My very first juniper, I purchased it after styling it at the class. It's just a young upright feminine put-you-to-sleep kind of tree. But after spending the day with it, and staring at it for the next few days, I finally get it. The foliage couldn't be more perfect for creating the illusion of a small tree. Something those old RMJ weren't giving me, plus they smell like cat piss IMO. I feel like I want to sell all my maples and pines and only work with juniper from here out. Being hyperbolic of course. But googling isn't giving me much on the subject I feel like. So my questions are....

BESIDES shimpaku what are your 4 favorite species to work with? Just want personal opinions, I'm excited to try procumbens next.

Is it possible to keep my crabapple? Or is that just a stupid idea? I have a very small yard and they will be within 20 feet of each other at best.

Is there a juniper specific book I should buy?

Can one grow a respectable juniper out in the field (15" to 22" finished height) or is it a fools errand?

Is there an artist or two that specialize in juniper? I'm aware of Kimura but he works with trees I'll never see in my garden, and ryan neil is handy with natives, but same problem. . ..sort of.. maybe I'm over complicating that

Just feel like I'm struggling to find information, almost definitely because I don't know where to look. Thank you for any links or suggestions. Really am interested to hear what species you guys enjoy working with.
 

Colorado

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Here’s my favorite junipers...right now ;) ...

Itoigawa
Kishu
Rocky Mountain
Procumbens

I’d like to add One-Seed and Utah to my collection.
 
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Wires_Guy_wires

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BESIDES shimpaku what are your 4 favorite species to work with? Just want personal opinions, I'm excited to try procumbens next.
Blaauw, because of the foliage, I started working on them two years ago and they puff up without any techniques applied, they're relatively slow but rewarding. Media/pfizer because of their fast growth habit and them being bulletproof. Communis because it requires so much patience and doesn't behave like most junipers. Phoenicea because nobody else has one and it feels like pioneering. Chinensis var. stricta is fun too, it's cheap and also pretty bullet proof but I don't like the foliage.

I think you can keep the crabapple, as long as you give it antifungals. Rust needs to spread back and forth to develop, if it can't develop in your crabs, then it wouldn't be able to infect your junipers. Preventing aphids isn't an issue, but other sap-slurping bugs can be a problem.

My itoigawa has 4mm wire biting in after a season. I think growing a 55cm/22" tree can be done in 10 years from a well rooted cutting. Given that you use a vigorous type. Of course the bigger your starter material, the faster you'll reach the finish.

I don't know of any artists specializing in junipers per say, but when diving into the rabbit hole of Japanese youtube channels, there's a lot to find.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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I had a similar hate-love experience with junipers too. Now they’re among my favorite species to work with. Itoigawa is my favorite, followed by standard shimpaku. Kishu “balls up” a little more than I prefer, but I do have a few in the ground growing big trunks for later.

On ground-growing, yes it is worth the effort. They do trunk up over time, around 1/2” in trunk diameter per year. I have a few 8-year old cuttings that have over 3” trunks now. The challenge is to add interest and movement to the lowest portion of those trunks very early in development. Wire and twist the trunks down toward the base, and plant them at angles. It slows down thickening for that first year, but when the wire is off, they grow and won’t be straight and boring.

Itoigawa is proving to be a rather prostrate grower, which means branches are getting heavy and they spread out, building the trunk, but will need to be replaced with closer growth. Those in the ground are about 18” tall and 6’ wide. They do seem to bud back well in the ground, but do tend to become bare inside in pots. That’s the main drawback to Itoigawa.

Here are shots of 2 of these 8-year old Itoigawa cuttings. I dug them up in March ‘19 to get a better look at them, and to add some movement. For scale, that pot is 18” wide:
E02AD8F7-CA11-4E63-9C46-6C243A4FE215.jpeg6BA06D4B-1F9F-4EEE-9D95-334E9FE8F328.jpeg

32EE3725-F738-42F4-BE38-CE7A1561B51E.jpeg292B0732-49E9-4087-BB55-A85DB0371C41.jpeg2BE7FEE8-44C8-4FDB-BF5C-5F8E46839C0E.jpeg
They’re back in the ground now growing unchecked (blue arrows in the last photo. These are all cuttings from the one on the bench with the arrow pointing down).

316D7BB5-0268-4BF0-B5D3-43DA21DC7D54.jpeg
 

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Omono
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Thanks for the input so far! Seems like the trunks get pretty fat considering the relatively smaller amount of foliage on them. Totally different than my maples. Albeit, 8 years is a pretty good haul. Usually I shoot for 5 to 6 years in the "field". Also I came across Bonsai today's juniper book. That will be my on my holiday wish list.
Need to memorize the difference between Itoigawa and Kishu, constantly looking that up. My tree is a kishu(ish) maybe unspecified shimpaku(?) but I think I like the look itoigawa just a little more.
 

Wires_Guy_wires

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I forgot I took a picture yesterday of my blaauw (blue) next to a media 'old gold' (top right) and an itoigawa (bottom).
IMG_20201126_165355.jpg
Blaauw is sometimes sold as kishu here in Europe, but from what I've seen they're actually different varieties since kishu is green instead of glaucous blue.

Good luck on your quest!
 
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Omono
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@Wires_Guy_wires Thanks, I'm glad you posted that. Blaauw was on my radar, and now I definitely want to try it. The foliage shape looks pretty great and I don't have any glaucus trees on my bench so I'm all about it
 

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