Preparing Junipers for Show

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Preparing Junipers for Show

Post  Peter Thorne on Thu Jul 16, 2009 11:04 am

I have recently acquired a rather special, if neglected juniper. I am not sure of the variety, but the foliage is very fine. The tree is about 400mm high. The majority of junipers seen in exhibitions have a stark contrast between the pale grey (often white) colour of the deadwood and the rich brown colour of the live vein.
Can anyone suggest a technique for colouring the live vein on this tree to create the required contrast?

I would also welcome your comments as to which is the better front for this tree.
Side A

or Side B


Last edited by Peter Thorne on Thu Jul 16, 2009 1:57 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Preparing Junipers for Show

Post  Storm on Thu Jul 16, 2009 11:08 am

As I am quite new at bonsai, dont take my advice too strong, but I liked the side B version the best.

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Re: Preparing Junipers for Show

Post  JimLewis on Thu Jul 16, 2009 2:44 pm

Personally I'm not fond of the red, polished bark look for junipers, but that's just my preference for a more natural look for my trees. You get that appearance by carefully peeling off all the loose, flaking bark from the live wood, then (sometimes) using a bristle (NOT wire) brush to smooth the newer bark. Finally, you rub it with vegetable or baby oil.

I prefer side one with some of the branches crossing the trunk, but either side would work -- especially if you can find a round pot to replace that ugly thing it's in now. Your tree is in dire need of a haircut, too.

It is a quite nice tree and deserves some careful work on it -- whether or not you go with the polished bark.

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Junipers

Post  Peter Thorne on Thu Jul 16, 2009 3:47 pm

Jim thanks for the advice. I realise the dead wood needs to be cleaned and lime sulphur applied; the foliage needs to be trimmed and thinned out a bit, and yes a nice pot would improve the image.
When you mentioned your preference for the branches crossing the trunk - did you mean crossing behind the trunck as in option A, or crossing in front of as in option B ?

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Re: Preparing Junipers for Show

Post  Kev Bailey on Thu Jul 16, 2009 4:29 pm

An old toothbrush is ideal. Just keep wetting it and go easy, with all of the flaking bark removed, some Junipers bark can be damaged if you are too vigorous in your efforts.

Jim mentions a haircut, I'd just pinch the tips of every extending growth to begin with. Then decide which areas need to be lightened visually and pinch those back a little further.

To achieve the more natural looking pale grey, you can use a soot wash over the lime sulphur. This can be selectively altered and removed with toothbrush and water and reapplied until you get a less uniform appearance with darker spots in crevices and cracks. A more expensive alternative to soot is the sumi ink that Japanese calligraphers use, as that is made from soot.

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Re: Preparing Junipers for Show

Post  JimLewis on Thu Jul 16, 2009 7:30 pm

Side A.

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Re: Preparing Junipers for Show

Post  Vance Wood on Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:38 pm

JimLewis wrote:Personally I'm not fond of the red, polished bark look for junipers, but that's just my preference for a more natural look for my trees. You get that appearance by carefully peeling off all the loose, flaking bark from the live wood, then (sometimes) using a bristle (NOT wire) brush to smooth the newer bark. Finally, you rub it with vegetable or baby oil.

I prefer side one with some of the branches crossing the trunk, but either side would work -- especially if you can find a round pot to replace that ugly thing it's in now. Your tree is in dire need of a haircut, too.

It is a quite nice tree and deserves some careful work on it -- whether or not you go with the polished bark.

I agree, the stark polished bark seems un-natural to me but many like it. You can use a wire brush as long as it is brass, the kind used in upholstery work to brush out things like valour and suede. Of course you have to be careful and not too aggressive. The idea here should be to only define the difference between the live bark and the dead wood. With your Juniper from the photograph it is almost impossible to tell the difference due to the light color of the bark and the deadwood.

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Re: Preparing Junipers for Show

Post  bonsaistud on Sun Jul 19, 2009 8:54 am

G'day Peter...

IMAFMHO (InMyAncientFeebleMindedHumbleOpinion)…

Why the lime sulphur?

If it's for color...I personally don't care for the stark white it creates...looks like something that fell off the truck on the way to the theater...for "Phantom".

My opinion...remember?

If it's to preserve the wood...there are better preservatives...

Again...my opinion.

However...very nice Juniper.

Pat

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Re: Preparing Junipers for Show

Post  Peter Thorne on Fri Jul 24, 2009 5:12 pm

I have done some work on trimming the foliage, used lime sulphur on the deadwood and after several experiments with various types of oil, I used shoe polish on the live vein. I found that the most difficult part of the process was to get a clean line between the live and dead wood areas. The colour of the polish is known as "Ox blood" it is a very dark brown and has a matt finish. I am quite pleased with the effect.
However, I think the most dramatic improvement comes from tilting the tree to the left. This photomontage shows the effect as well as the benefit of having a decent pot.

This exercise also demonstrates the importance of getting the lighting right for the photographs. This first shot was taken with a flash, the second without.
Anyway - Thanks for the advice guys !

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Re: Preparing Junipers for Show

Post  fiona on Fri Jul 24, 2009 5:44 pm

Peter Thorne wrote: I think the most dramatic improvement comes from tilting the tree to the left.
I think you're absolutely right. Look forward to seeing this on Wednesday in the budgie house. Very Happy

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