Help make styling choice for juniper

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Help make styling choice for juniper

Post  Precarious on Sun Aug 10, 2014 5:53 pm

Have a juniper from a garden center.  Happy with trunk size.  Reduced foliage in June by 1/3 to let more light reach interior branches.  Will repot and reduce roots in Spring.  Now thinking of more reduction/first styling choices.
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Largest and lowest 2 branches are opposing each other in a crossbar fashion.  Above that the next 2 branches do the same thing.  These are not pleasing visually, but what to do?  Dramatic jin?  I like jin, but subtle ones.  Remove 1 or more branches?  This appeals to me more, but will it be harmful to remove large branches close to the trunk?  Or leave an unsightly scar that never heals?  What would you suggest?
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Re: Help make styling choice for juniper

Post  Vance Wood on Sun Aug 10, 2014 8:01 pm

You will have to read the tutorials about posting pictures on this site. The easiest is to down load your photo to Imgur and down load to this site. Nice and big photos. Copy the file from Imgur and click on the photo icon above and let-R-rip.

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Re: Help make styling choice for juniper

Post  JimLewis on Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:03 pm


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Help make styling choice for juniper

Post  Precarious on Tue Aug 12, 2014 10:48 am

Okay let's see if I have ironed out picture posting issue.  Here is the juniper in question:


and here is my attempt to show the primary branching for which I am requesting input:

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Re: Help make styling choice for juniper

Post  JimLewis on Tue Aug 12, 2014 1:15 pm

An eye-level picture of the tree against a plain, light-colored background will make it easier for us to see and make recommendations.

BUT, you have a number of fairly large branches that seem to be going arrow straight in all sorts of directions. Once you have decided on the overall shape/style of the tree you want, you should get rid of as many of these as possible. In the second pic, there are two straight branches going off low on one of the main trunks. If this were my tree, the one moving toward the inside of the tree would go -- but again, can't see it all that well.

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Re: Help make styling choice for juniper

Post  Precarious on Tue Aug 12, 2014 4:25 pm

Thanks for the input, JimLewis. I will post more pictures. As to my other question, what can I expect from a juniper if I remove a large branch flush with the trunk? Some healing on the edges with a hole in the middle of the wound, or would it potentially heal over completely?

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Re: Help make styling choice for juniper

Post  yamasuri on Tue Aug 12, 2014 4:39 pm

I would turn unwanted branches in to Jin. Scars can stay open for quite long time if any never heal.

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Re: Help make styling choice for juniper

Post  Precarious on Wed Aug 13, 2014 2:55 am

As suggested, here are some more pics that hopefully show this trunk more clearly.  Long straight branches will be pruned back as back-budding allows, or will be removed. There is a quarter somewhat visible on the soil in the last pic for size perspective.

It was suggested that unwanted branches be made into jin.  Would it look awkward to leave the two lowest branches?  Maybe my thinking/vision is too limited in this.






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Re: Help make styling choice for juniper

Post  kevin stoeveken on Wed Aug 13, 2014 3:06 am

Precarious wrote:Would it look awkward to leave the two lowest branches?  Maybe my thinking/vision is too limited in this.


not if you are going for a short, squat and powerful sumo style...

i have a toyo nishiki willow heading in that direction...

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Re: Help make styling choice for juniper

Post  Precarious on Wed Aug 13, 2014 3:23 am

B C S, that really may be a great way to go! I like that idea, but not so sure of my skill to pull it off as I have dealt largely with tropicals over the last 7-8 years and have only recently begun to delve into junipers. Any pictures of the toyo nishiki willow to share?

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Re: Help make styling choice for juniper

Post  bottasegreta on Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:17 pm

Changing the potting angle of the tree would help reduce the cross-bar appearance of the those lowest two branches. It's a "trick" I've heard Walter Pall mention a couple of times in workshops/demos. Tilting the tree to the left (tree's right) an hour or so, for example, would make the left (tree's right) branch (or future jin) APPEAR lower and the opposite branch/jin APPEAR higher even though they emerge from the same point. You can further enhance the effect by adjusting the size of the jins to create more imbalance between the two. And, in that case, smaller, more subtle jins would be better. What do you think?

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Re: Help make styling choice for juniper

Post  kevin stoeveken on Wed Aug 13, 2014 6:14 pm

Precarious wrote: Any pictures  of the toyo nishiki willow to share?

here you go:
last fall when i first got him on clearance, clarence



didnt know what else to do but after reading about sumo style, here he is today







still a loooong way to go, but at least i now know where i am going

i think i will refer to this as the shrugging sumo due to how am pulling everything from the back to hang over the front...
which only accentuates that pigeon breast, but i think it adds some power to it and a little carving will help too...

not to mention getting that canopy reduced down and tight and then let it do what willows do...
at which point he might become the shaggy shrugging sumo  Wink 

btw - what part of nebraska are you from ?
the flat part or the really flat part ?  Laughing Razz Laughing 
(i did some time at offutt afb and then stayed in omaha for a couplafew years after i got out)

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Re: Help make styling choice for juniper

Post  Leo Schordje on Thu Aug 14, 2014 2:46 pm

Precarious wrote:As suggested, here are some more pics that hopefully show this trunk more clearly.  Long straight branches will be pruned back as back-budding allows, or will be removed.  There is a quarter somewhat visible on the soil in the last pic for size perspective.

It was suggested that unwanted branches be made into jin.  Would it look awkward to leave the two lowest branches?  Maybe my thinking/vision is too limited in this.


my thought, if it were mine, I would go with only one main branch at ground level, or if you prefer to think of it as a twin trunk design. I would keep the left trunk, and the center trunk. You want branches or trunks of different sizes, and you want movement (bends and twists) in the branches and trunks. The right trunk is also too straight. Also remove the dead arrow straight branch that has the green tape on it. but keep the main trunk it comes off of. Don't cut the branches off flush to the trunk, leave them long and just strip the bark off to the trunk. Leave it long for a year or two, then as you settle into a design you can shorten the dead branches (jin) to lengths appropriate to your design. But leave them long if you want choices available later.

Hey, do you live withing driving distance of Deadwood SD? If you do try to drop in on Golden Arrow Bonsai - Andy Smith. He could give you styling advice, your tree is 3 dimensional, and especially when first learning, this 2 dimensional exchange of ideas is probably more confusing than helpful. Alternately, is there a bonsai club near you? Omaha NE should have a bonsai club. Do you get to a major metropolis regularly where there are active clubs - for example St. Louis, Chicago, anywhere along California coast between San Diego to San Francisco. You could bring the tree to one of the clubs there, and get ideas.


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Re: Help make styling choice for juniper

Post  Vance Wood on Thu Aug 14, 2014 3:15 pm

Leo Schordje wrote:
Precarious wrote:As suggested, here are some more pics that hopefully show this trunk more clearly.  Long straight branches will be pruned back as back-budding allows, or will be removed.  There is a quarter somewhat visible on the soil in the last pic for size perspective.

It was suggested that unwanted branches be made into jin.  Would it look awkward to leave the two lowest branches?  Maybe my thinking/vision is too limited in this.


my thought, if it were mine, I would go with only one main branch at ground level, or if you prefer to think of it as a twin trunk design. I would keep the left trunk, and the center trunk. You want branches or trunks of different sizes, and you want movement (bends and twists) in the branches and trunks. The right trunk is also too straight. Also remove the dead arrow straight branch that has the green tape on it. but keep the main trunk it comes off of. Don't cut the branches off flush to the trunk, leave them long and just strip the bark off to the trunk. Leave it long for a year or two, then as you settle into a design you can shorten the dead branches (jin) to lengths appropriate to your design. But leave them long if you want choices available later.

Hey, do you live withing driving distance of Deadwood SD? If you do try to drop in on Golden Arrow Bonsai - Andy Smith. He could give you styling advice, your tree is 3 dimensional, and especially when first learning, this 2 dimensional exchange of ideas is probably more confusing than helpful. Alternately, is there a bonsai club near you? Omaha NE should have a bonsai club. Do you get to a major metropolis regularly where there are active clubs - for example St. Louis, Chicago, anywhere along California coast between San Diego to San Francisco. You could bring the tree to one of the clubs there, and get ideas.


Looking at this tree from this view the most important is the movement of the trunk.  It kind of "S's" from the left to the right and back again.  This is good and cannot be changed so this is what you are going to have to deal with.  The two bottom branches/minor trunks are a problem and one or both of them will have to go.  The one on the left could be utilized as a growing portion of the tree, the one on the right will conflict with the movement of the trunk and would look really great cut and jined.  You may want to do that with the left branch as well but it could be left till you are certain.  You always want to set your foundation before you build a house.  The same is true of bonsai from material like this.

If you continue to inspect the tree from this angle you might want to consider a drastic cut back with jin on the large branch that goes off to the right near what could be called the center of the tree.


Last edited by Vance Wood on Thu Aug 14, 2014 8:35 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Help make styling choice for juniper

Post  Precarious on Thu Aug 14, 2014 5:51 pm

Ha ha Kevin I like it! Hope to see it as an SSS(shaggy shrugging sumo). No, not from the part of Nebraska where you can watch your dog run away for 3 days. I'm from Omaha, born and raised. Moved away a couple of times, but always feel called back...
If you ever come back this way, Lauritzen Gardens is a relatively new addition to the city(19 years), down near the Henry Doorly Zoo. It has a lot of support and is expanding tremendously. Several years ago, in conjunction with a sister city in Japan, they began developing a section as a Japanese-style garden.

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Re: Help make styling choice for juniper

Post  kevin stoeveken on Thu Aug 14, 2014 6:06 pm

right on... after getting out of the air force i hung around omaha from '82 until about '85 as i was in a band and it was fun being a big fish in a small pond... but like you, i moved away from milwaukee a few times and always end up back here...

back to the matter at hand:
i think you are getting some better advice from guys like vance, leo, et al, than from me as you have more good choices than i had to start with on the willow...

(btw in addition to what leo said, there is also DASU bonsai in iowa, but that might be good more for pots etc, than styling advice)

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Re: Help make styling choice for juniper

Post  Precarious on Thu Aug 14, 2014 6:07 pm

bottasegreta wrote:Changing the potting angle of the tree would help reduce the cross-bar appearance of the those lowest two branches.  It's a "trick" I've heard Walter Pall mention a couple of times in workshops/demos.  Tilting the tree to the left (tree's right) an hour or so, for example, would make the left (tree's right) branch (or future jin) APPEAR lower and the opposite branch/jin APPEAR higher even though they emerge from the same point.  You can further enhance the effect by adjusting the size of the jins to create more imbalance between the two.  And, in that case, smaller, more subtle jins would be better.  What do you think?

This tree seems to speak squat, stable, short, balanced. Toward that end, I am looking at a central branch as a jin that perhaps tells a story of a lightning strike and explains why there are strong branches down low. That said, a small change in angle could accomplish what you suggest and is worth considering. Thank you!

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Re: Help make styling choice for juniper

Post  Precarious on Fri Aug 15, 2014 3:55 am

Leo and Vance, I feel real hesitant to create jins down low in this instance.  The tree looks balanced and strong as it stands.  Perhaps the straight branch on the right could be saved by dramatic curving on the first branches off of it.  And, perhaps, the reality is that the final look is just not ready to show itself yet... At the time I purchased this, my thought was to simply remove the two lowest branches and the two directly above as well, since they are so small in comparison to what's above. I guess the possibility of the cuts healing over is unlikely, I'm learning. I've seen a knot hole on a couple of excellent junipers, but four seems pushing it.

I have been to DaSu Studio, but have not yet been to Deadwood. I HAVE been scouting that area however, for backpacking. I think a stop there to talk bonsai may have to be allowed for. I belong to the Nebraska Bonsai Society, but whoever schedules their events must work every other weekend and that weekend is opposite mine, because I seem to be working during 90% of their activities.

Thank you all for the input so far, and I welcome any other.  You've all been very gracious in the time you've spent with this.

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Re: Help make styling choice for juniper

Post  Vance Wood on Fri Aug 15, 2014 9:57 pm

Precarious wrote:Leo and Vance, I feel real hesitant to create jins down low in this instance.  The tree looks balanced and strong as it stands.  Perhaps the straight branch on the right could be saved by dramatic curving on the first branches off of it.  And, perhaps, the reality is that the final look is just not ready to show itself yet...  At the time I purchased this, my thought was to simply remove the two lowest branches and the two directly above as well, since they are so small in comparison to what's above.  I guess the possibility of the cuts healing over is unlikely, I'm learning.  I've seen a knot hole on a couple of excellent junipers, but four seems pushing it.

I have been to DaSu Studio, but have not yet been to Deadwood.  I HAVE been scouting that area however, for backpacking.  I think a stop there to talk bonsai may have to be allowed for.  I belong to the Nebraska Bonsai Society, but whoever schedules their events must work every other weekend and that weekend is opposite mine, because I seem to be working during 90% of their activities.

Thank you all for the input so far, and I welcome any other.  You've all been very gracious in the time you've spent with this.

That's OK but you will eventually see it our way.

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Re: Help make styling choice for juniper

Post  Poink88 on Mon Sep 08, 2014 2:32 pm

I'd consider this as a start...you can always remove the lower trunk later if you wish.  Same is true with the jinned right trunk...I'd probably remove it.  Also note that you can jin some of the branches instead of removing them and chop as needed...you do need greens at the ends of the branch you want to keep.



Another option

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Re: Help make styling choice for juniper

Post  Precarious on Mon Sep 08, 2014 3:33 pm

Dario, thank you for going to the trouble. I like the first edit you posted- it seems more balanced to my eye. You mention branch removal OR jin creation. Others have steered me away from branch removal because of poor chance of healing/ugly scarring. Have you removed larger branches from junipers? If so, did you achieve a result you liked?

Bottasegretta, I reviewed this thread today and realized I never responded to your post about possibly changing the potting angle- I apologize. I like your suggestion. Angling it to the left would reduce that crossbar effect considerably.

For right now, I have mostly just pruned away foliage to encourage back-budding next year. My next decision will be whether or not to repot in the Spring. It has obviously thrived in nursery soil for some time, so maybe no to repotting- just work on the back-budding next year. I will have to examine the roots. If root-bound I think that will change my mind. If what I have been reading is correct, then the tree is unbalanced in favor of roots and it will work to rebalance by growing new foliage, so I hope repotting is needed later rather than sooner.

Thanks, the input is really helpful for me

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Re: Help make styling choice for juniper

Post  bottasegreta on Tue Sep 09, 2014 12:19 pm

Can you post pictures of what you've done so far, maybe at the new angle(s) you're considering?

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Re: Help make styling choice for juniper

Post  Arno on Mon Nov 03, 2014 7:14 pm

Hello, precarious
You asked some questions of me on my post, so i will answer about your tree here, and my tree at my post. I like this tree, my biggest advice is time, haha, that sucks, but its true. Im still learning, although this is a 4 year work. I would change the potting angle too the left, and use the center. That left branch dosent work for me, if its the back i have cut flush and hidden it, keep it seeled , it will stay healthy, but it wont heal over for years. If its the front you could try and cut it flush, seal it, wait a couple days then change your potting angle to left,stick it under the ground, if you leave it there long enough it may make some nice nebari for you. (This may be bad advice, and im sure somone will correct me if it is) i would be sure to leave this for a couple years before messing with the replant. The right branch looks like it has lots of growth that could be nice first branch. The center is not too big to bend, make sure tree is fairly dry, junipers bend really well. There are a few posts here where people have bent much bigger branches, wrapped in a ton of rafia, double wired, and cranked with turn buckles or special benders. Pavel, walter pall, and others have good progresions, and even some videos. I too have mostly tropicals, so back to my original advice, do a little at a time, cut some, keep looking, bend some, keep looking, then eventually the tree reveals itself
just my humble opinions
arno

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Re: Help make styling choice for juniper

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