My learning tree

rich415

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There has been a lot of discussion about getting cheap trees to work on in order to learn basic horticulture and technique. I would like to share one of my learning trees and what I have learned (and not learned) in the process.

I started Bonsai in June of 2009. So I have not been doing it that long at all. I had no horticulture experience, no artistic bone in my body, and no ground "to plant it in an let it thicken up."

I bought a $7 dollar "Tam" Juniper with a one inch trunk and did not know what to do with it. It wasn't my first tree but it was my first conifer. I cut off a bunch of branches then stopped because I did not know what the heck i was doing or how I should proceed with styling. It sat on my deck while I continued buying other trees and learning from them.

Last spring the tree spoke to me finally and I styled it in the windswept form. (yeah, I know a predictable form for newbies with crud material.)

Here is what it looked like:
windswept juniper Sept 2011.jpg

Lesson #1: Patience. I killed a few other trees by cutting too much too fast because I was unsure of how to proceed with styling. This juniper's foilage is leggy and does not lend itself to nice fluffy foilage pads like shimpaku. I had to find a style that would work for this tree's foilage and faults.

Lesson #2: creating dead wood. This was the first jin and Shari I made. It's not the best but I bought a dremel and took the plunge. I can only improve from here. No one can improve if they never attempt it in the first place.

Lesson #3: I kept it alive.

This post is getting really long...

Thanks for looking,

Rich
 

rich415

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While this tree does not look great by any means, I am proud of what it has taught me. I wanted to put it in a semi cascade pot but could not find one that I really liked. The tree also has many issues that I will never solve making it a very poor bonsai. I guess that is lesson #4: recognizing major flaws and learning to adapt them, live with them or just not buy that tree. (the third option saves the most money.)

But since I already owned this one, I had to do something to make it look a little better. So I picked up a rock a couple weeks ago and thought that this tree would look so much better planted on it than a pot. A pot would showcase the tree too much. Obviously I did not want that! A rock on the other hand creates a composition and creates a more dynamic and powerful image. So, I thought I would try that. Lesson #5: planting a tree on a rock.

Here's what it looks like now:
Juniper on rock.jpg

Not perfect again but It has taught me alot and it is still improving.

Thanks for looking,

Rich
 
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Ang3lfir3

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You have certainly learned a lot from this little tree..... and in that time is has become an interesting tree... good work!!!

ok so now I'ma be a critic.... I don't think you need the pot the rock is in.... if the bottom of the rock is flat enough I would just remove the pot and let the tree grow on the rock ... if its not flat enough find a way to make it flat enough .... there is no rule that says there HAS to be a pot in the composition.... IF you find a rock with a little more complimentary motion and weight in the direction of the "wind" that might be nice.... however I still think it will make a nice whimsical piece to have on your benches over the coming years.... good job!!
 

Phillip C

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From a newer newbie, you won't make the journey without taking that first step. Congratulations and you have a nice juniper there, i am impressed and inspired, thank you very much for sharing, Phillip C
 
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jk_lewis

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There was nothing wrong with the first pot. If it were my tree, I'd put it back in it. Then, I think I would UNbend that lower branch. That sudden turn to the south looks artificial.

Overall, I think it was a very nice composition. Nice learning curve.
 

Ang3lfir3

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There was nothing wrong with the first pot.

other than being WAY to large for a tree with a trunk that small... the rock planting looks nice.... and the OP knows to give the tree time... and see what develops from there.... all good things
 

rich415

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Thanks for all the kind words.

JKL,
I understant what you are saying about the curve but i thought the branch was way too far from the trunk and the trunk is pretty small. Visually it did not work right for me. This tree has many flaws that i won't ever fix, that is probably one of them. The pot it was in was too long, again the trunk looked insigificant in it. I was looking for a square semi cascade pot but neve really found one that fit well. I find this rock to be the best solution to an otherwise flawed tree.

Ang3lfir3,

I took your advice on taking it out of the pot. Her's a pic without the pot.

juniper on rock 11.2011.jpg

Now i'm going to focus on building the foilage pads a little wider.

Thanks for looking,

Rich
 

Ang3lfir3

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yeah that looks nicer.... how is the other side of the rock? see how the left side of the rock has a sort of "cliff" appearance.... would be kind of nice to have this hanging out over that sometime..... that is of course if the other side of the stone is at all interesting.... if not .... no biggy... still is fun
 

rich415

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The other side is not interesting at all. It is hard to tell from the pic but the tree does hang over the edge. The Rock slopes perfectly with the tree. The caves beneath the tree actually cut in pretty deep. The rock is way more intersting than the tree. The tree sort of compliments it. If I can build the foilage pads better, it will be a really nice composition.

Rich
 

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