Leaning Juniper Progression

ColinFraser

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I'll lead off with a couple of photos to hook you, and then I'll fill in the gaps ;)

May 2016:
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December 2016:
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Back in May I acquired this Juniper. It's one of the vigorous varieties of J. chinensis, most likely Prostrata. When I got it, there were a lot of brown tips and dead spots, but it didn't seem to be in particularly bad health - just maybe a bit neglected . . .

Edit: That's a 5# pot and a 22oz. IPA for scale.
 
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ColinFraser

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I spent quite a bit of time digging into the rat's nest, removing old dead foliage, cleaning branch crotches, etc. I removed any greenish foliage that wasn't absolutely vigorous - I wanted to be able to see immediately if it got any worse, or started improving.

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And then I just let it grow for a while . . .

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Ah, green and happy.
 

ColinFraser

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As you can see, whoever grew or collected this piece of stock just flat cut the branch/deadwood near the base. There's great shari, but no possibility for Jin there, so it will need to be carved.

503163172.623807public.jpeg
 

ColinFraser

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The previous grower also left a large stub up near the apex that will need to be carved. This photo is a very unflattering angle that shows both stumps clearly.

503166179.271688public.jpeg

And here's the back side of the tree as it rides shotgun for a critique with my mentor:

503164148.589204public.jpeg
 

ColinFraser

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I have recently been really inspired by our native Monterey Cypress, and I could see a tree like this leaning over the eroding edge of a coastal bluff, influenced heavily by the damp air and ocean winds. Because the possibility for large jins was removed before I acquired the tree, I have to tell a story that involves decaying deadwood, at least in the shaded lower trunk, and I think that fits the bill.

The lowest branch will be grown out for now, but I think it will eventually become a bit of jin - a branch that was getting sun before the tree leaned so heavily, but has now been shaded out.

502961627.949935public.jpeg

So, there is is for the moment . . .
 

ColinFraser

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I'll leave it alone until spring, at which time I may start the carving, get it into a shallower training pot, and get the planting angle right - it needs to be a little bit more upright, and leaning forward slightly more. One thing I'm not really sure of is what sort of bonsai pot would eventually be a good match for a tree like this, and I'd love a few suggestions.

Also, my teacher and I have discussed this tree as a potential grafting project from the beginning, and that may very well be the course. Finer foliage would allow much greater detail.
 
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Vance Wood

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I like the tree very much. As you work in the dead wood I think you will start to see something that looks natural and old. The best of bonsai world. Just don't get carried away. Who is your mentor if that is not getting too nosey?
 

Smoke

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I too like this tree and its progress. How about some detail wire. I hate all those loose ends hanging out there.

That's what separates "nice tree coming along well" from "Holy shit, that's awesome!"
 

ColinFraser

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I like the tree very much. As you work in the dead wood I think you will start to see something that looks natural and old. The best of bonsai world. Just don't get carried away.
Thanks Vance; I appreciate your input.

Who is your mentor if that is not getting too nosey?
No problem. Travis Goldstein of California Bonsai Studio (his teacher was the late Mas Ishi of Chikugo-En). I started studying with him at the very beginning of 2016, and he's since taken me on as an apprentice.
 

ColinFraser

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I too like this tree and its progress. How about some detail wire. I hate all those loose ends hanging out there.

That's what separates "nice tree coming along well" from "Holy shit, that's awesome!"
Haha; thanks Al. I completely agree about detail wire, but I had to make a cost/benefit decision with respect to my limited time at the moment. Detailing out a prebonsai in a five gallon pot is not a luxury this unretired guy can always afford ;)
 

Smoke

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ahhh..... well the difference between a pre-bonsai and a bonsai is the detail wire. Do what I do, a TV tray in front of the TV is where I do most of mine. If I had better lights outside or my wife could stand her precious car in the weather for 5 minutes I would do it in the garage.
 

bleumeon

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Nice tree! Could be San Jose juniper? I've been searching for my own large piece of rough stock juniper I can wire up too. If you graft what kind of foliage will you be putting on the tree?
 

Vance Wood

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Nice tree! Could be San Jose juniper? I've been searching for my own large piece of rough stock juniper I can wire up too. If you graft what kind of foliage will you be putting on the tree?
Actually it look like Andora more than anything.
 

sorce

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The lowest branch will be grown out for now, but I think it will eventually become a bit of jin
Sad to hear.
I like that branch.

I hope eventually is way way...way out.

After its carved...it should look nicer.

You can make that branch work.

I like this one.

Sorce
 

ColinFraser

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Nice tree! Could be San Jose juniper? I've been searching for my own large piece of rough stock juniper I can wire up too. If you graft what kind of foliage will you be putting on the tree?
Thanks! It's either San Jose or Prostrata; to a first approximation they seem to be interchangeable, and I'm skeptical of anyone who claims they can easily distinguish between them with certainty ;) (but that could just be because my eye needs better training.)
You should definitely come by the nursery sometime. We've got quite a few around that would fit your bill, and I'd be happy to show them to you. As I recall from when you were looking for Foemina, you're not too far away.

If I change its clothes, it will be shimpaku of some sort. If I want it well behaved, then kishu, and if I want it a little more unruly (which might suit my inspiration better) then itoigawa is the order . . .
 

bleumeon

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Thanks! It's either San Jose or Prostrata; to a first approximation they seem to be interchangeable, and I'm skeptical of anyone who claims they can easily distinguish between them with certainty ;) (but that could just be because my eye needs better training.)
You should definitely come by the nursery sometime. We've got quite a few around that would fit your bill, and I'd be happy to show them to you. As I recall from when you were looking for Foemina, you're not too far away.

If I change its clothes, it will be shimpaku of some sort. If I want it well behaved, then kishu, and if I want it a little more unruly (which might suit my inspiration better) then itoigawa is the order . . .
Yeah I was! Have a big foemina now though but I'm looking for one of these unruly big juniper I can test my wiring and artistry skills on. I'll make the trip over one of these days.

Does prostrata revert to juvenile foliage easily? Usually I see prostrata with mature foliage but tends to be more leggy and coarse than other juniper varieties. Almost all the time if I see a San Jose it has primarily juvenile foliage.
 
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sorce

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I read this as relevant even if it is not proceeding.

Unless you are planing to show the tree sometime in the next couple of years I would not bother with trying to carve out the out the stub until you can determine how the die back is proceeding or receding down the trunk; then you can make the best moves for the the tree and do the jin work in a continuous event. I really like the design of the tree.
Is and ing for has and ed.

Still important.

Sorce
 

Smoke

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Does prostrata revert to juvenile foliage easily? Usually I see prostrata with mature foliage but tends to be more leggy and coarse than other juniper varieties. Almost all the time if I see a San Jose it has primarily juvenile foliage.
Spot on....
 

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