Old Gold Juniper

Redwood Ryan

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Hey everyone,


Picked up this interesting little "Old Gold Juniper" from my local nursery today to try and start to actually style something. When I first saw this tree, I immediately saw a Cascade in it. The trunk leans heavily to one side, and there is also a very thick branch that can be seen in some of the pictures. I did, however, want to stay away from cascades, as cascade junipers just don't do much for me. Would there be any possibility I could make this a windswept as the trunk leans so heavily? I would show you how much it leans, but then again it is too bushy to see anything down there. I heavy prune in late winter, correct? Think I could prune a little out of the way now? And lastly, anyone have experience with this kind of Juniper. I have the exact name, but it doesn't say exactly what it is. Oh yeah, I paid a whopping $17 for it:

The branch to the far left that cascades down the pot is that big heavy branch I was talking about:


A slight view of the trunk:


Another shot of the tree:


Anyone know what it is?



Thanks,

Ryan
 

Redwood Ryan

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Pruned this tree today. It looks horrible. There was a "slingshot" hidden under all that foliage. I want to jin the part in yellow, then make the red area my main tree, sort of like a shohin:

 

jk_lewis

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With nursery trees and perhaps especially with bushy junipers, you need to really peer, poke and prod through the tree to see (or feel) what's there. That includes digging into the soil to see if here are potential surface roots that would make an anchoring base to he tree. You should have spotted the slingshot.

I do agree with you about cascade junipers. They're a dime a dozen and most are really dull, though there are exceptions.

Since you have this one, though, experiement with different planting angles, Take a lot of pictures from all possible angles and do yourself some virtuals with both branches and with one or the other chppped at various lengths and with the trunk tilted here and here. If you are unfamiliar with virts, this would be an opportunity to learn.
 

Redwood Ryan

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Thanks Jim!

I think I am going to remove that branch to the left and just jin it. This variety of juniper isn't the best for bonsai anyway, so it will just be an experiment. I'll post some pics after I'm done.
 

mcpesq817

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As someone who similarly spent time and money on material that wasn't "the best for bonsai," I'd recommend staying away from stuff like this and saving your money to buy better stock. From your various posts it sounds like you have plenty of cheap material to play around with, so I'd focus your efforts on obtaining better stock.

There is a ceiling as to how much you can learn from stock like this. I think you'll find your skills improve significantly if you start working on better stock.
 

jk_lewis

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I think you'll find your skills improve significantly if you start working on better stock

Amen! You know what they say about sow's ears and silk purses. If you are very skilled, you can start with CRAP and make crap -- maybe.

Assume you bought 4 $10 trees and did nothing you really liked with them, then think what you might have done with a single $40 tree.

This is why I tell beginners there is NOTHING at Home Depot or Lowes or WalMart that will make even a half-baked bonsai. But they still go there and buy junipers with pencil-thin trunks, then whine that their tree doesn't look like Walter's or Kimura's -- or even mine. <g> You get exactly what you pay for.
 

Redwood Ryan

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As someone who similarly spent time and money on material that wasn't "the best for bonsai," I'd recommend staying away from stuff like this and saving your money to buy better stock. From your various posts it sounds like you have plenty of cheap material to play around with, so I'd focus your efforts on obtaining better stock.

There is a ceiling as to how much you can learn from stock like this. I think you'll find your skills improve significantly if you start working on better stock.

I didn't know this wouldn't work when I first saw it. Once I actually sat down and picked through it, I then discovered the problems it has. Sure, better stock would improve my skills, but this will as well.

Amen! You know what they say about sow's ears and silk purses. If you are very skilled, you can start with CRAP and make crap -- maybe.

Assume you bought 4 $10 trees and did nothing you really liked with them, then think what you might have done with a single $40 tree.

This is why I tell beginners there is NOTHING at Home Depot or Lowes or WalMart that will make even a half-baked bonsai. But they still go there and buy junipers with pencil-thin trunks, then whine that their tree doesn't look like Walter's or Kimura's -- or even mine. <g> You get exactly what you pay for.

I'm not whining. And this is no pencil thin trunked juniper. Sure, it may not be the best but it doesn't mean I can't/shouldn't work on it, as the way it is being made to sound right now. And I know about the whole theory about trees from Lowes and Home Depot, but that will not make me stop buying from there. Who knows why.
 

mcpesq817

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Ryan, I don't know if you've had the opportunity to go to the National Arboretum yet or not, but it's certainly worth a visit. Of course the trees on exhibit are of outstanding quality, but studying the aspects of why those trees are great will make you a lot more discerning when it comes to buying stock.

It's one thing to see pictures of nice bonsai, it's another to see them in person. I know for me, despite seeing countless pictures of trees online or in books, it really didn't hit home as to what made for good bonsai until I was up close and personal with a friend's collection as well as went to the Arboretum.

Rather than spend $10 here and $20 there at Home Depot or Lowes, save your money, drive down to Gardens Unlimited near Richmond, and buy a piece of stock that is much better - trunk, movement, etc. Otherwise, you'll find that you're wasting time and money on trees that won't go anywhere, or you'll fill up your benches with crap and get discouraged.
 

Vance Wood

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I didn't know this wouldn't work when I first saw it. Once I actually sat down and picked through it, I then discovered the problems it has. Sure, better stock would improve my skills, but this will as well.



I'm not whining. And this is no pencil thin trunked juniper. Sure, it may not be the best but it doesn't mean I can't/shouldn't work on it, as the way it is being made to sound right now. And I know about the whole theory about trees from Lowes and Home Depot, but that will not make me stop buying from there. Who knows why.

You are right up to a point. When you pick a piece of material that will not respond to the kinds of techniques used in bonsai to produce the illusion of age such as developing foliage pads, it becomes very discouraging and does more to break your bonsai mo-jo than support it. Just a little quasi-wisdom from years of experience from a time before we had books, decent teachers, the Internet, or bonsai nurseries. I have worked with trees like this, and sadly worse, mostly out of ignorance. It is not necessary for you to repeat that experience unless it is your desire to do so.
 

Redwood Ryan

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Point well taken from all of you. But hey, at least I get to learn how Junipers respond to heavy pruning....

Here is some work from earlier in the day:





Thanks for your comments everyone. I'm just so stubborn sometimes....
 

Redwood Ryan

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It begins to look more interesting.

Well, not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but I'm not quite done. I want to remove that whole left side of the trunk. Right where it splits into 2 sections. That would remove both of those jins and leave me with this as my trunkline....sort of:



And I know that looks like a small branch, but it is just because it leans back away from the camera a small bit.
 

davetree

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Well I think you will find out how junipers like this respond to pruning, but you won't learn anything about shimpaku, Rocky Mt. juniper, california juniper, kishu shimpaku, or any of the good ones used for bonsai. Junipers like yours like to drop branches and go belly up in my experience.
 

digger714

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I can understand wanting more trees to play with. I bought probably 7 or 8 pro nanas when i first started. After seeing more trees, and then collecting very large trunks, it changed my thinking. I still have all of them, but have planted in the ground on tiles, or boards to grow out. Time is what its all about with small trees. The ones that do look good as mame or small shohin have to be of a certain type. Some just work better. But if it gives satisfaction, then who cares. Have fun with it. If you do have the room, and time, then plant them, and learn how they grow to learn what they need. One of the best things ive learned is that small bonsai dont become large bonsai. Just know that when looking, pick the nebari, all else can be worked from there. If its not good, it probably never will, at least not for a long time. Good luck.
 
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mcpesq817

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Point well taken from all of you. But hey, at least I get to learn how Junipers respond to heavy pruning....

No offense Ryan, but I'm not sure if you learned how junipers respond to heavy pruning. You bought the tree three weeks ago - junipers take a while to show any ill effects from heavy work. You also bought a young tree that would probably be a lot more vigorous and capable of handling heavier work than maybe a more mature tree. Also, the cultivar you are working with, which is not typically used in bonsai, might a popular item in home garden centers because those types of cultivars can take a big beating as a landscape shrub compared to other cultivars.

I'd still recommend taking a drive to Gardens Unlimited. If you like junipers, they have lots of shimpakus in various sizes that you can choose from. It's been a while since I was last there, but you can get shimpakus with 1-2" trunks starting around $100-125, with trunks up to 6" or more that run for considerably more. Some of the shimpakus have had a little work done to them, but most are virgin trees so you can do 100% of the styling.
 

subnet_rx

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Well, one positive note, your tree looks much better than mine after initial pruning. I remember being so frustrated about this by the time it was done, and mad at myself at the same time. All for something that didn't cost that much, and wasn't worth that much. At the time though, I thought I had found a real gem in that nursery. I kept the tree for about a year, but it didn't do well at all. I also noticed quickly that the foliage on these types of junipers are much worse in comparison to something like a shimpaku.

http://bonsainut.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1410
 
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I also noticed quickly that the foliage on these types of junipers are much worse in comparison to something like a shimpaku.

http://bonsainut.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1410

Good point about the foliage. I learned this lesson too with some year-end close out sales at a garden store. Some junipers produce spray-like foliage similar to the structure of arborvitae which can be difficult to manage. I still have one of them and while it is a terrible bonsai specimen, it was one of my first, so it has been given a reprieve.
 

Redwood Ryan

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No offense Ryan, but I'm not sure if you learned how junipers respond to heavy pruning. You bought the tree three weeks ago - junipers take a while to show any ill effects from heavy work.

Not much taken. And actually I did buy it a while ago, but I just did the work on it these past few days, so it may still be a while.

I really don't see what the big issue is. Price should not be a matter when it comes to future bonsai. It always annoys me to get hassled by "senior" members about how much you currently spend on a tree in poor shape and they never think about what it could be to a beginner. I'm tired of being told how wrong I always am when I buy something that I think has a future, and then some expert comes along and knocks it down due to price. Come on guys, lighten up.
 
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