Need some styling help

subnet_rx

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I posted this over at BT and didn't get much help. Not sure why.

Just got this juniper and would like to make a informal upright style out of it. I'll take any advice given, I've already did some pruning to open it up.




Back?:



After initial pruning to get rid of branches going straight up, too close to each other, or crossing back:

 
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JTGJr25

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What species of juniper is this??? I think you've pruned away the option of informal upright. If it were mine, I would tilt the tree 90 degrees to the right and try to make a cascade from it. Honestly I dont see much potential in this tree. What potential was there, was pruned away. If you can get it to back bud then you have a better chance.


Tom
 

subnet_rx

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I think it will back-bud. I've seen evidence on a branch that was cut some time ago and buds flourished all around the cut. If I had to guess, I would say this is a variety of juniper chinesis. I can't agree that it's not fixable yet. It has a nice sized trunk and I uncovered a good bit of nebari after repotting yesterday. I just would like suggestions about the top of the tree and where to go.
 

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Subnet;

I think that people may not be responding because they hate to sound overly critical. I wish you had posted before you cut all the branches; I would not have cut the branches you cut. I don't think you have many options with what you have left. If it were my tree I would toss it :( I'm just being honest.

If you are obsolutely set on keeping the tree you are going to have to keep cutting. The first branch on the right HAS to go because it has a nasty knot that you will not be able to work around. With that gone, the upper pert of the tree that is left really has no character. If I were you, I'd chop off the entire trunk down to the first branch. Seal all cuts. Wire the branch down as a semi-cascade, making sure to add a lot of character to the branch with dramatic bends. Do not repot, but fertilize and water heavily. If you are fortunate you will get some buds popping back near the base of the tree. You will want to keep one of the upward growing ones as your new apex. Aside from that, you will just need to wait a LONG time and let the tree regain its strength and throw out new growth while healing all the cut scars.
 

Attila Soos

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I agree with Nut,

You should have done just the opposite of what you did. Leave all the little branches close to the base of the trunk, and reduce all the long branches at least by half. No styling at this point.

Then let the tree grow and recover for a year. And this time next year, reduce all the long branches by another 50%, and let the tree grow unchecked another year.

Then the third year, the tree may give you some ideas as to how to proceed. Remember, that always the tree is the one who gives you the ideas, and not the other way around.

In this case, the tree has nothing to offer, because you didn't give it a chance. So there is nothing to do here, but stimulate a lot of new growth, while reducing the height into a small tree.

What you did here with your pruning, is typical for a beginner: not only you did not improve the tree, but you actually need another season just to get back to where you started today.
 

Attila Soos

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So, what branches should have been left on the tree?

Since you want to grow foliage as close to the lower part of the trunk as possible, everything that you cut off close to the lower trunk, should have stayed.

Instead you need to cut all long branches in half, to push new growth towards the lower trunk.
 

subnet_rx

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Hmm, well, thanks for the advice. I'm going to take another look at this when I get home to see if another angle looks better. I really liked the nebari and trunk on this tree and that's why I bought it, but I saw something different at the nursery, then saw something else when I got home, and now I see nothing. Thus the post asking for advice. A lot of the lower branching was shaded and thus dead but now that I look at it again, I may have pruned a branch that would have given me the option to take it in a different direction if I decided to do so.
 

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It is tough to design a tree via photos, but here is what I think when I see the first image. Hopefully other people will chime in.

First, the branch at #1 is a big problem and has to go. You want your finished tree to have a nice taper, and branch #1 is too thick, as well as having a nasty knot and inverse taper close to the trunk. So branch #1 we're going to lop off. But wait! We don't want to cut it off flush with the trunk. Rather, we are going to jin it and solve the branch problem at the same time as not leaving a nasty scar behind.

Second, branch #2 is a sacrifice branch. It will not be used in the final design, but it is important now because it will make the trunk nice and thick. Additionally, when we are done we can either jin it (probably not) or cut it off flush with the trunk because the scar can be hidden on the back of the trunk. So for now, do not touch this branch AT ALL. Let it grow as fast as possible and get thick and bushy and long - the bigger it gets the fatter your trunk will get, down low where it will give you a nice tapered trunk.

Branch #3 and #4 are probably too thick for your final design, but for now don't cut them off. #3 is should be reduced in length by 50% and wired down to be a back branch. #4 should be reduced in length by 50% and wired down past the horizontal so that it hangs out to the right. Do not remove any small growth from around the base of either branch. Hopefully as you shorten these branches they will bud back strongly and you may exchange one of these new buds for the thick branch.

#5 is your apex. Your final tree you don't want much taller than where I marked the #5. So you will want to develop a new apex there. Your best bet is to shorten the #5 branch by 75% or so, and hope that it buds back down the trunk. Of course, do not remove ANY small growth that currently exists or pops after you cut back branches 3, 4 and 5.

Eventually, you may end up with a tree that sort of looks like the following virtual image. I agree with what Attila says in that you want to see what happens as you start pushing growth back - you may end up with a different solution based on what the tree tells you. It is important that while you are doing this work you do not constrain the roots. Either keep them in the current pot, or transplant into a bigger pot or into the ground for a couple of years. You want the tree as strong as possible and pushing lots of agressive growth until you decide on the final design.

 

JasonG

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Hey Sub,

Sorry man but I have to agree with everyone so far. You could have had an almost finished looking very cool bonsai with what you had to begin with. It is too late now, but I attached a photo of what I would cut off now and let regrow. Feeding very well next year it will do well. Instead of styling it now you should make the cuts but this coming spring work on the roots to start getting it into some good soil and reduce to a pot. I am thinking that would be best while it works on regrowing everything you cut off, haha.

Best! Jason
 

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subnet_rx

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Well, on the positive side, it appears that I'm pretty good at picking out nursery stock that has good potential. That was in the middle of a group of about 30 and I had to pick up almost every one to find something that I thought was useable.

I'm still kind of confused as to what would have been the two good trunk lines that I pruned off though.
 
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Martin Sweeney

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Subnet Rx,

I was wondering if you had considered the first branch to the left as a possible trunk line. Look for the smallest tree and all that....

Of course I do like what BonsaiNut came up with as well.

The tree is still alive, there appears to be no reason to assume it won't continue to live, so there will be opportunity to re-evaluate after a year or two or three or whatever of new growth.

Regards,
Martin
 

subnet_rx

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Yeah, that's actually the line I saw at the nursery and the reason I bought it. Upon getting it home and looking again though, I saw something completely different. I really need some pruning practice. I have plenty of nursery material that I'm just watering and fertilizing, but haven't even pruned a branch off of. People come over and I don't have a bonsai garden, I have a nursery.
 

Bonsai Nut

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Yeah, that's actually the line I saw at the nursery and the reason I bought it. Upon getting it home and looking again though, I saw something completely different. I really need some pruning practice. I have plenty of nursery material that I'm just watering and fertilizing, but haven't even pruned a branch off of. People come over and I don't have a bonsai garden, I have a nursery.
Post it here in raw form. Take 4 photos - one of each side - then share with us what you were thinking, and see what ideas people come up with.
 

subnet_rx

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Well, here's the tree as it is today. Still haven't decided if I'm going to scrap it or grow it out. I can't get past the branch angle of the branch I would keep right in the middle. I had initially thought (first pruning) that I could eventually cover it up with another branch, but with the verts that I am doing, the tree still looks out of balance to me.

 
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I'm pretty sure this is a j. chinensis - 'sea green.' They backbud pretty well.
If you don't go with bonsainut's ideas, you could wait until next spring, fertilize and see what pops out.

You're mistake is actually pretty typical. I have done this to trees as well. Next time, try to work down and into the tree rather than working 'out.' Hope that makes sense.
 

Attila Soos

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Next time, try to work down and into the tree rather than working 'out.' Hope that makes sense.
That's a good way to put it.

One of the things one needs to plan for, is the final height of the finished tree. In this case, the final height will be less then half of the current height. This means, that everyghing needs to "happen" around the first 10 inches. All the interesting highlights and focal points have to be located in that area. Right now, there is not much going on there, so you need to create character, movement, texture, deadwood, etc. ect. , all in that area of first 10 inches. The actual design, shaping the branches, deciding the shape, all that comes much later, after some character and interest was created.
 

subnet_rx

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I'm pretty sure this is a j. chinensis - 'sea green.' They backbud pretty well.
If you don't go with bonsainut's ideas, you could wait until next spring, fertilize and see what pops out.

You're mistake is actually pretty typical. I have done this to trees as well. Next time, try to work down and into the tree rather than working 'out.' Hope that makes sense.
Thanks, this could be a sea green, but I actually have a juniper chinensis "sea green" in my yard that I bought earlier and the foliage is much lighter in color than this. With these trees, the new foliage is light green, then it turns darker than my sea green's foliage. I've looked through a book that described around 30 different varieties, but I really can't tell. Maybe a sub-variety of Pfitzeriana given my location. If the foliage turns a different color this winter, I may be able to narrow it down a little more.
 

subnet_rx

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In the last picture that I posted above, which of the two branches going straight up would you choose for an apex? I think I have an idea for this tree now, there's one that is a lot like it in one of John Naka's books with a slanting style and the main trunk T's with two branches, one going up, the other going down. The small starting branch you see under those two branches will be the one going down. One of the others has to be the apex.
 

JasonG

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Here is what I would do now if it were mine.....this needs to be hacked back hard and it will back bud like crazy. This is a very young tree and if you feed it heavily and hack it back it will be a totally differnet tree in 2 years.

Instead of buying a bunch of cheap trees, save some dough and buy something that is a bit more money but offers potential. Know what I mean?

Jason
 

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