Cheer up owners of $2 junipers or $5 mallsai

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Cheer up owners of $2 junipers or $5 mallsai

Post  JimLewis on Wed Aug 01, 2012 7:12 pm

Twenty years (or so) ago the bonsai club I then belonged to thought it might see what could be done with $1 and $2.00 box store garden junipers (gallon size, or even smaller). Several were bought and we were supposed to "do something" with them over the course of the next year.

As you might guess, the results were pretty gawdawful. I have no idea what became of any of the other sticks in a pot, but I still have mine.

It was a typical box store tree, with leaders going out like spokes on a wheel. I wish I had pictures, but they seem to have vanished with an old computer or a change-over of operating system or a crash, or some other computer excuse. Just picture any old, crappy dime-store juniper bonsai you've seen and that's what this looked like.

But time heals all wounds, "they" say, and 20 years have been moderately easy on my little stick in a pot. It will never win a prize at a show, but if the club contest were still going on, I'd be happy with these results.



If there is a moral to this story it may be simply that you can make, if not a silk purse, at least a cotton bag out of a sow's ear.


Last edited by JimLewis on Wed Aug 01, 2012 7:15 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Posted only because I was cleaning up the tree a bit this morning and suddenly "saw" what it had become.)

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: cheer up owners of $2 junipers or $5 mallsai

Post  timatkinson on Wed Aug 01, 2012 8:16 pm

Hello Mr. Lewis - I appreciate this tree and your writing style on the IBC. You are always informative and generally very helpful. When I see your name on a post or reply I always read it. Recently you saved a favorite maple of mine when I thought for sure it was covered in mildew. Your advice to know what pest you are up against before willy-nilly spraying led me to look more closely (with a 30 power loupe) to see (surprise!) the worst infestation of mites I have ever seen. That tree regularly gets washed now with water and the mites are pretty much gone. Yay! and thank you again. Regards - Tim Atkinson

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Re: Cheer up owners of $2 junipers or $5 mallsai

Post  JimLewis on Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:29 pm

Thanks, Tim . . .

Lovely area you live in. I know (or knew) it well. I'd often escape from my classes at San Jose State COLLEGE(!) into the Santa Cruz mountains.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Cheer up owners of $2 junipers or $5 mallsai

Post  cbobgo on Wed Aug 01, 2012 10:49 pm

I didn't know you had connections out here Jim.

And Tim, are you a member of the santa cruz bonsai kai?

- bob

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Re: Cheer up owners of $2 junipers or $5 mallsai

Post  Jerry Meislik on Thu Aug 02, 2012 2:38 am

Jim,
Very helpful to all of us that start with less than world class bonsai materials.
Really nice result.
Jerry

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Re: Cheer up owners of $2 junipers or $5 mallsai

Post  my nellie on Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:03 am

JimLewis wrote: ... ...If there is a moral to this story it may be simply that you can make, if not a silk purse, at least a cotton bag out of a sow's ear.
In other words everything has got its value no matter how significant.
It would be interesting to see if there will be any other $1 or $2 junipers posted here coming back from that period..., perhaps there are members of IBC here who were also members of that bonsai club...

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Re: Cheer up owners of $2 junipers or $5 mallsai

Post  JimLewis on Thu Aug 02, 2012 12:54 pm

Thanks, Jerry . . . Alexandra . . . that's kinda why I posted it.

I didn't know you had connections out here Jim.

They're pretty ancient, Bob. I graduated from San Jose State in Jan. 1960.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Cheer up owners of $2 junipers or $5 mallsai

Post  Carolee on Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:10 pm

Although I'm only a novice, now that I am living in an area without a club, I've been asked to 'teach' others. I think the one gallon junipers from a box store is excellent learning material, and readily available in the spring. We repot in a plastic bulb pot with soil with a high percentage of chicken grit. Some initial styling but no wiring. I follow Brent Walston's advice and tell them if they can keep it alive for a year, we will pot next year. This helps then to understand the patience of bonsai, and there is very little cost involved. As we know there is a big difference between appreciating the beauty of bonsai, and the work of growing and designing. Only one person of my initial 'class' of four two years ago has remained involved.

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Re: Cheer up owners of $2 junipers or $5 mallsai

Post  marcus watts on Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:18 pm

Carolee wrote: This helps then to understand the patience of bonsai............Only one person of my initial 'class' of four two years ago has remained involved.

Do you think the slow, patient approach when instructing new people has caused the very high drop out? I feel the beauty of cheap learning material is to practice everything you can on regularly ie weekly or monthly, as plenty of regular 'hands on' experience in the early months is essential to enjoy and stick with the hobby.. Patience comes with better trees once you have developed your own style and tastes. Young junipers are so forgiving -you can demo, prune, wire & shari on a sunday and repot on monday....all my demo and styling competition trees are alive with all their branches from the last 3 years of doing this.

Its funny looking back but when you see where 20 years has disappeared in a tree you wish you knew then what you know now. It is much easier these days I think with a multitude of clubs and worhshops to learn at.

I have my 3rd tree still, but all the other early ones are in pastures new, or planted in the wild ... Very Happy

cheers Marcus


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Re: Cheer up owners of $2 junipers or $5 mallsai

Post  JimLewis on Thu Aug 02, 2012 7:11 pm

Carolee's method may be a bit slow to hold interest, and I think I'd have them do more pruning and wiring than she seems to do, but her climate probably won't allow for pruning, wiring and repotting. It probably gets as cold as you can get up there in northern Maine.

I know that my little juniper would be years in the bonsai burying ground if I'd ever lived that far north. And me too.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Cheer up owners of $2 junipers or $5 mallsai

Post  thomasj on Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:49 pm

Jim,
It looks like you and I had the same idea. My little guy isn't 20yrs old but almost 15. It was purchased at a local garden center nursery back in 1998 for $6.95. I took a pic of it right after the initial chop which is seen in the first pic below.

My theory on bonsai is, unless it has branch structure, it's really just a bush when it come to junipers especially. I did absolutely nothing with it for five years except water it. The second pic shows it in 2002 just before restyling it into a semi cascade tree.

The last pic shows it pretty much the way it looks today. In 2006 it won an award at the Dallas Bonsai Club monthly meeting for the best budget bonsai, something they would do once a year to encourage its members to try something simple rather than something high dollar. Very Happy



2002


Today



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Re: Cheer up owners of $2 junipers or $5 mallsai

Post  JimLewis on Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:24 pm

I think yours came out better than mine. Good job. Love the last pot!

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Cheer up owners of $2 junipers or $5 mallsai

Post  Ryan B on Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:59 am

An Nice pot indeed on that last one. Oh what we could've done in 20 years starting with better stuff?! I'm moving my earlier purchases to pasture now, as does Marcus....though not atop rocks! ;-)
100% that's a bigei. I have a similiar one coming in my next 3rd box from Japan this month, in two weeks.

If any body is interested in it drop me a line.
Ryan
http://japanesebonsaipots.net/

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Re: Cheer up owners of $2 junipers or $5 mallsai

Post  JimLewis on Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:41 pm

I was playing around with the picture.

Here is the original:



But now, doesn't this make a better tree?




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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Cheer up owners of $2 junipers or $5 mallsai

Post  misfit1 on Tue Aug 07, 2012 12:07 am

I like it the way it is, Jim. I think it is better balanced with the cascading branch and esp. with the current pot. Nice tree for a "cheapo" workshop juniper. Very Happy

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cheer up owners of 2$ junipers or 5$ mallsai

Post  moyogijohn on Tue Aug 07, 2012 1:38 am

JIM,, I like the way you played with the shape (better) but i am not too fond of the cascade style with any tree.. only my opion !! take care john

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Re: Cheer up owners of $2 junipers or $5 mallsai

Post  GašperG on Tue Aug 07, 2012 7:39 am

Hi,

I hope you don't mind a quick virt.

If possible I would do something like this...or maybe you don't even want to go that way, because it would then look as anyone elses cascading juniper...anyway, here it is



Just a thought Smile
Gašper

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keep the tree as a cascade

Post  Leo Schordje on Tue Aug 07, 2012 4:50 pm

Jim, my vote would be to keep the tree as a cascade. I would instead do a hard prune back of the foliage above the rim of the pot. The upper foliage pads are too large. This would balance the vigor some. I would also clear out enough foliage so one would be able to see the secondary branching off the main branches. Only keep needles on tertiary branches. Being able to see 1st and secondary branching will go a long way in refinement. I think the branching is there, it just needs to be revealed.

Nice tree, the origin of a bonsai really doesn't matter. It is the appearance. Over emphasis on the origin, particularly when used to dismiss the value of a tree, is nothing but snobbery. This is not to say that the history of a tree is not important, but the artistic value lies in the current, actual appearance of a tree.

Your tree looks nice, quite nice today, I like it.

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Growing a decent mallsai

Post  stevevets689 on Mon Sep 17, 2012 4:31 am

I'm not sure if this is the best place to ask this but I recently acquired a young juniper mallsai (well two plants in one pot) and then afterward discovered how much there is to this entire hobby thanks to some internet exploring. Seeing as I now am in possession of a couple plants that may not have the best bonsai potential, I still want to do them justice as best as I can.

So far, I have removed the rocks from the topsoil and moved the trees to a fairly sunny location on our balcony (not somewhere it will fall from). The soil seems overly moist so I am continually checking the it and trying to let it dry a bit before I water again. Where I stand now, I am just trying to figure out how to give the plants the best chance I can at becoming decent bonsai. Should I:

Consider pruning them yet? One of them has some pretty thick growth that might be worth thinning out,

Repot? It's September in Colorado and I know it will be getting cooler soon, so I'm not sure if I should wait until spring. However, they are planted in soil that is pretty water retentive. Maybe it would be better for the plants if I got them in a better medium before it gets too cold out.

I'm assuming that wiring can wait for now.

Thanks in advance for any input.

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Re: Cheer up owners of $2 junipers or $5 mallsai

Post  Leo Schordje on Mon Sep 17, 2012 4:55 pm

stevevets689 wrote:I'm not sure if this is the best place to ask this but I recently acquired a young juniper mallsai (well two plants in one pot) and then afterward discovered how much there is to this entire hobby thanks to some internet exploring. Seeing as I now am in possession of a couple plants that may not have the best bonsai potential, I still want to do them justice as best as I can.

So far, I have removed the rocks from the topsoil and moved the trees to a fairly sunny location on our balcony (not somewhere it will fall from). The soil seems overly moist so I am continually checking the it and trying to let it dry a bit before I water again. Where I stand now, I am just trying to figure out how to give the plants the best chance I can at becoming decent bonsai. Should I:

Consider pruning them yet? One of them has some pretty thick growth that might be worth thinning out,

Repot? It's September in Colorado and I know it will be getting cooler soon, so I'm not sure if I should wait until spring. However, they are planted in soil that is pretty water retentive. Maybe it would be better for the plants if I got them in a better medium before it gets too cold out.

I'm assuming that wiring can wait for now.

Thanks in advance for any input.

What is the date of your average first frost? In the mountains there, I know there are a lot of micro-climates. You need at least 30, preferably more days before a freeze to give roots a chance to heal after repotting. However, bad soil, especially wet soil that does not allow air to penetrate may kill a tree over the winter. I would lean toward repotting now, making an attempt to be gentle with the fine roots, move the tree into a larger growing/training container (not a display bonsai pot) with an all inert material grit with all fines sifted out. Maximum air penetration would be the goal. So I would lean toward repot now. No pruning, wiring or other work until next year after the new growth has extended at least several inches or more. Give the trees some time to rebuild roots and vigor.

Those are my thoughts from 640 ft elevation, any juniper growers from a mile high want to weight in on my suggestions? I could be wrong, as a flat land grower, I don't know the climate effects that you have to deal with.

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Re: Cheer up owners of $2 junipers or $5 mallsai

Post  stevevets689 on Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:29 am

Our first freeze is probably coming up pretty soon, it's already been quite cool in the mornings. This area is super sporadic in its weather and temperatures... can be 25 degrees in the morning with a high of 68, or a low 20 one day and a high of 80 the next. I'm starting to think that I don't have time for re potting as of now so maybe I should just see how winter goes Neutral Meanwhile I will water only as the top of the soil dries out a bit, and keep a humidity tray under it. Does that sound like a decent plan until April?

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Re: Cheer up owners of $2 junipers or $5 mallsai

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