Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

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Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  joewebb on Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:55 am

Hi all, I'm a greenhorn when it comes to bonsai & only started with the fascinating hobby a year ago, my question is is the Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea I obtained from a nursery suitable stock to achieve the style as per attached.




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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  Vance Wood on Wed Dec 24, 2014 3:07 pm

In reply to your question; Yes Phitzer Junipers can make decent bonsai. They are Juniperus Chinensis like so many other Junipers you see used in bonsai. However you have another problem and that is the size of the trunk on this tree. It is way to small and leggy and will take at least five years to develop enough mass to be useful as a bonsai unless the tree is going to be a really small bonsai. If that is the case you need to start heavily cutting the tree back to induce new growth low down and near the trunk. Other-wise you would be better off putting it into a large container or the ground for a number of years to gain some girth.

The heart of all bonsai is the display of the base and the trunk. If your tree fails here, what is going on at the top or with the branches is meaningless.

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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  Sorcertree on Wed Dec 24, 2014 4:32 pm

It has good taper now!

I would let that middle branch be your sacrifice branch, Keep it away from the right (first)branch, you can use that but you'll have to keep it small. If the sacrifice doesn't shade it out, you can keep it healthy and trimmed back.

Unlike your pic, your first right branch will come from the outside. Of a bend. 1+
And you don't have to have that top right branch(sketch) as i t is unnecessary to me. Out of balance. 2+

Then you build the rest with your left(New leader) branch. Cut all the bar branches!

Get out your wire, you should be able to place movement in the trunk too. Though the taper is nice enough for it to be subtle movement .

If I were hunting nursery material, I likely would have bought that one too.!

Sorce

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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  Vance Wood on Wed Dec 24, 2014 5:41 pm

Sorcertree wrote:It has good taper now!

I would let that middle branch be your sacrifice branch, Keep it away from the right (first)branch, you can use that but you'll have to keep it small. If the sacrifice doesn't shade it out, you can keep it healthy and trimmed back.

Unlike your pic, your first right branch will come from the outside. Of a bend.  1+
And you don't have to have that top right branch(sketch) as i t is unnecessary to me. Out of balance. 2+

Then you build the rest with your left(New leader) branch. Cut all the bar branches!

Get out your wire, you should be able to place movement in the trunk too. Though the taper is nice enough for it to be subtle movement .

If I were hunting nursery material, I likely would have bought that one too.!

Sorce

i respectfull disagree with your approach. The reason I say this is in your exclamation that you would have bought this one too. I know a bit about finding nursery trees and I can tell you that this Juniper is only about three years old as a cutting. It will take another ten years before you can even think of something worth working on as a bonsai.

I don't wish to discourage anyone but I don't want to tell anyone something that is not true or attainable in a life time. As to buying this tree; unless I was looking to twist it I would not have purchased it knowing what I know.  Over the many years I have done bonsai I guess it took me around ten years to figure out that you do not make good bonsai by growing a tree into a good bonsai unless you want to spend the next thirty years diddleing  with the tree just to get it to a point it can be designed.  OR----you are going to compact it down on itself in a series of coils, bands and twists and Shari portions of the trunki.

 It is far better to cut down a juniper from a much larger piece of material into a smaller bonsai.  In doing so you now have a decent trunk that you can carve out and make some Shari elements you have some branches to remove that you can turn into Jins.  There is one fact that always remains;  you cannot have a credible good Juniper bonsai without dead wood elements, you can argue the point all you wish but show me a world class bonsai Juniper without dead wood.

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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  beer city snake on Wed Dec 24, 2014 6:18 pm

VANCE: in reading your interview i found on-line, you said something that, for me, having been in this for just a few years, was a real parting of the clouds and eye opener... especially in its no bullshit simplicity...

and i am paraphrasing:
"you dont grow a bonsai up... you cut a bonsai down."

that was one of those where i literally smacked myself in the forehead Shocked

now, i am not about to toss out all my sticks in pots as i am only in my early 50s (and my doctor promised me he would get me to 80) so i will live long enough to see some of them come to fruition not to mention the learning experience... but other than that, your advice is a much clearer way of looking at potential material.

thanks
and merry christmas to you.
kevin

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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  Vance Wood on Wed Dec 24, 2014 8:40 pm

beer city snake wrote:VANCE: in reading your interview i found on-line, you said something that, for me, having been in this for just a few years, was a real parting of the clouds and eye opener... especially in its no bullshit simplicity...

and i am paraphrasing:
"you dont grow a bonsai up... you cut a bonsai down."

that was one of those where i literally smacked myself in the forehead Shocked

now, i am not about to toss out all my sticks in pots as i am only in my early 50s (and my doctor promised me he would get me to 80) so i will live long enough to see some of them come to fruition not to mention the learning experience... but other than that, your advice is a much clearer way of looking at potential material.

thanks
and merry christmas to you.


kevin

You absolutely have it right, it took me years to understand that principle.  Most of my good bonsai were made that way, some of my bonsai were made by taking trees that I had been working on for years and cutting them down into something better with better proportions.  To be honest with you there are a lot of people that don't like the way I do bonsai for a variety of reasons but I have never had a Boon in my life or a Ryan Neil or a Bill Valvaines.  These are great teachers that I cannot afford.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Here is a Mugo Pine I started work on this fall.  



Very Large Mugo weighs in at over 100 lbs. and stands about five foot tall.  The trunk is as big around as my forearm and more.



This is kind of the way it looked at the end of the day. Still a long way to go but the truth remains: The finished tree will be the result of cutting down a substantially larger tree to make a much smaller bonsai.

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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  JimLewis on Wed Dec 24, 2014 9:23 pm

I agree with Vance. If you start with good material, you can get to a good bonsai. If you start with inferior material it is MUCH less likely.

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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  Precarious on Wed Dec 24, 2014 9:37 pm

Wow!  That's pretty tough talk to a self-proclaimed beginner. scratch

Trees we buy this size, and then grow, teaches us a lot.  For one, how to keep the darned thing alive under pinching, snipping, hacking, bending, twisting, grafting conditions.

Small nursery trees are a great way to experiment your way into skill and experience.  By all means, start there.  If you wait til that Christmas Vacation 'aha! from the angels' tree, you may kill it if you have not made your biggest mistakes with lesser trees.

If you are pursuing the art with a combo of joy and diligence, there may come a time when you will want and be able to select a 'higher level' plant to work with.  Vance's approach will make great sense then.

Wisdom I've heard on this forum that makes sense to me is to have trees at varying levels of development.  You can learn something from each. elephant

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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  Vance Wood on Wed Dec 24, 2014 11:48 pm

Precarious wrote:Wow!  That's pretty tough talk to a self-proclaimed beginner. scratch

Trees we buy this size, and then grow, teaches us a lot.  For one, how to keep the darned thing alive under pinching, snipping, hacking, bending, twisting, grafting conditions.

Small nursery trees are a great way to experiment your way into skill and experience.  By all means, start there.  If you wait til that Christmas Vacation 'aha! from the angels' tree, you may kill it if you have not made your biggest mistakes with lesser trees.

If you are pursuing the art with a combo of joy and diligence, there may come a time when you will want and be able to select a 'higher level' plant to work with.  Vance's approach will make great sense then.

Wisdom I've heard on this forum that makes sense to me is to have trees at varying levels of development.  You can learn something from each. elephant

This is hard for me and if I did what many would think smart, I would say nothing for fear of making an enemy of you.  But as the scorpion said to the turtle, after he stung the turtle giving him a ride accross the river  on his back;    Being informed that now they both would drown the  Scorpion said:    I cannot deny my self and who I am.  

What is the difference between putting wire on a larger tree, pruning a larger tree, and developing things like foliage pads setting up a trunk line and branch placement than it is on a small stick in a pot??????   Geeeeeze does anyone have to have me spell it out?  When you are done with a stick in a pot you  have a much smaller and more useless stick in a pot.  

Starting with larger material you now have a lot of experience dealing with "Big Boy Issues" playing around with a tree that might make a nice bonsai in a couple of years not a couple of decades. If yuou are marginally lucky and artistic you might even have something that even looks like a bonsa.   We do too much Pussy-footing around with people.  We want to be nice and friendly and contributive but in the end we start many of these people down the path to ultimate failure.    Why do that????

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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  Precarious on Thu Dec 25, 2014 12:31 am

Vance, I like that you speak plainly and teach with parables.

I see finding a tree with a great trunk and cutting it down a more advanced process, utilizing more advanced knowledge and skill. I think I might have quickly killed several trees that way as a beginner. Knowing me, killing several trees with great potential as a greenhorn would have been greatly frustrating. As time has worn on, having taken small trees into big trees through various methods taught by experts online and then pruning them down has been a very rewarding process. I intend to keep doing that for the joy of it. My experiences drive my approach. I like your approach to bonsai as well, and not everyone is alike so I'm glad we share multiple approaches.

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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  Vance Wood on Thu Dec 25, 2014 12:50 am

Precarious wrote:Vance, I like that you speak plainly and teach with parables.

I see finding a tree with a great trunk and cutting it down a more advanced process, utilizing more advanced knowledge and skill.  I think I might have quickly killed several trees that way as a beginner.  Knowing me, killing several trees with great potential as a greenhorn would have been greatly frustrating.  As time has worn on, having taken small trees into big trees through various methods taught by experts online and then pruning them down has been a very rewarding process.  I intend to keep doing that for the joy of it.  My experiences drive my approach.  I like your approach to bonsai as well, and not everyone is alike so I'm glad we share multiple approaches.

Most people without guidance will not willie-nillie just cut off the trunk on any tree.   Some might, but most wont have the courage or foolishness, as some would call it, to make a move like that.  They would ask or look for assistahce.  Most people will not do what they are not comfortable with as evidenced by your previous statements.  There is nothing wrong with that, the wrong is in allowing people to accept that level of paucity.  It may be years before they progress beyond this point. for several reasons; one being the realization that they are going no where and two, resigning themselves to the possibility that the goal of producing beautiful bonsai seems as unattainable today as it was when they started. Where does this end? It ends in little old lady bonsai. If that's what they want then OK but I don't think anyone knowing that a level of excellence is within their grip will settle for bonsai at that level.

Even knowing that I did not have a teacher I realized that my trees were inferior, some will say they still are, but I always knew that making better bonsai was within my reach and not beyond my ability to get there. So I never stopped trying to learn, and even now wish I had known what I know now even ten years ago.

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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  JimLewis on Thu Dec 25, 2014 2:26 pm

We want to be nice and friendly and contributive but in the end we start many of these people down the path to ultimate failure.


But there IS such as thing as "tone" (written) of voice (says the guy who fails that test as often as not).

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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  Precarious on Thu Dec 25, 2014 3:17 pm

The crusty shell protects the heart of gold! ThumbsUp

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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  DjTommy on Thu Dec 25, 2014 4:19 pm

I agree with Vance here,

Yes, most great bonsai started as a stick in a pot (or in the mountain) but only few were actually developped from a stick in a pot and then it took very long time.

There is no need to find everything out by yourself, books and forums give you a lot of knowledge to be able to start with better material

I am a beginner and i think there is much more to learn from better material, a beginner that keeps only lousy stuff has a big chance of giving up as well. So i guess the key is to have good material to work and learn with so you can spend some time in between with lousy one and. this way there is bigger chance that one day this turns into something nice as well.

Grtz
Tommy

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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  JimLewis on Thu Dec 25, 2014 6:01 pm

Of course, people buy "lousy stuff" because it is cheap.  That's why Lowes and Home Depot seem so popular  in North America (and wherever else they may be).   They end up buying a dozen cheap (AKA Lousy) plants, when they could have spent that same amount of money on ONE good plant at a real nursery or -- even -- a bonsai nursery (better than a bonsai STORE).

Many folks even brag about how "cheap" the plant they bought was. Go figure.

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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  Richard S on Fri Dec 26, 2014 3:06 am

But Jim, surely the flaw in your argument is that this thread relates to someone who is a self confessed novice.

I absolutely agree that for a more experienced grower/artist there is no point buying lousy material just because it's cheap but for a beginner, is "one good tree" really better than a dozen lousy ones? I'm not so sure.

As little more than a beginner myself I would say that one of the biggest obstacles to progress that I have encountered is simply a lack of material to work on. Turning a piece of raw material into a decent, let alone great bonsai requires a wide range of horticultural and artistic skills. These skills need to be learned or at least practised.

There is very definitely a limit to how much you can work one tree however good (in terms of artistic potential) it may be. If learning/practising techniques is the objective then working a dozen lousy trees will actually teach you more in a shorter time than working just one good one. 

Of course that doesn't mean that those trees will develop into great bonsai! That would be a most unlikely outcome which is why I think that Vance was quite right to honestly point out the limitations of this material.

Telling the difference between what's "good" and what's "lousy" is a skill in it's own right and one that also needs to be practised. This is not an appeal to mediocrity or to be dishonest in assessing the merit of material presented on this forum. I'm simply suggesting that for a beginner, using this kind of material to practise on has some merit.

Of course working on much better material would certainly be preferable (and I accept that's essentially Vance's point) but for me and probably many others, obtaining that "better" material is not a cheap or easy option. Therefore I think it makes sense to hone your skills on cheap nursery trees so that when you do acquire more promising raw material you at least have some idea of what to do with it.


At least that's what I think now. As I said I am little more than a novice myself so perhaps all I am actually doing is exposing my own ignorance Very Happy.

Regards

Richard

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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  Vance Wood on Fri Dec 26, 2014 3:53 am

Richard S wrote:But Jim, surely the flaw in your argument is that this thread relates to someone who is a self confessed novice.

I absolutely agree that for a more experienced grower/artist there is no point buying lousy material just because it's cheap but for a beginner, is "one good tree" really better than a dozen lousy ones? I'm not so sure.

As little more than a beginner myself I would say that one of the biggest obstacles to progress that I have encountered is simply a lack of material to work on. Turning a piece of raw material into a decent, let alone great bonsai requires a wide range of horticultural and artistic skills. These skills need to be learned or at least practised.

There is very definitely a limit to how much you can work one tree however good (in terms of artistic potential) it may be. If learning/practising techniques is the objective then working a dozen lousy trees will actually teach you more in a shorter time than working just one good one. 

Of course that doesn't mean that those trees will develop into great bonsai! That would be a most unlikely outcome which is why I think that Vance was quite right to honestly point out the limitations of this material.

Telling the difference between what's "good" and what's "lousy" is a skill in it's own right and one that also needs to be practised. This is not an appeal to mediocrity or to be dishonest in assessing the merit of material presented on this forum. I'm simply suggesting that for a beginner, using this kind of material to practise on has some merit.

Of course working on much better material would certainly be preferable (and I accept that's essentially Vance's point) but for me and probably many others, obtaining that "better" material is not a cheap or easy option. Therefore I think it makes sense to hone your skills on cheap nursery trees so that when you do acquire more promising raw material you at least have some idea of what to do with it.


At least that's what I think now. As I said I am little more than a novice myself so perhaps all I am actually doing is exposing my own ignorance Very Happy.

Regards

Richard

Richard:  May I ask you to consider this.  What is the difference between wiring, pruning and styling a piece of material this thread started with and picking up another similarly priced but larger piece of material with a lot more branches and a fatter trunk?  I believe that the problem many have in an inability to visualize what a bonsai should look like.  You should check out people like Graham Potter who does take some non discript piece of material and turn it into something really beautiful.  I am not suggesting that you, or even my self, are at that point but; what this does show you is that the shape of a bonsai has to be in your head heart and soul.  

The little bitty sticks in pots are not intimidating and in the back of many minds failure is likely therefore there is no loss in either material or-----pride.  With larger material you simply give your self a chance to work with more options, more branches, more choices and yes more opportunities to make mistakes but thats how you learn.   Your learn by doing and doing nothing, which is what the material that started this thread is likened to, is as good, or bad, as not starting at all, especially if the grower is adamant in arguing that this is the developmental level they desire to remain at till they get better. You have to push yourself if you want to get better, your trees will not somehow magically improve if you don't or I don't. It took me a lot of years to learn that lesson as well, but here we are, trying to do bonsai the best we can.

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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  fiona on Fri Dec 26, 2014 11:13 am

Vance Wood wrote:[I believe that the problem many have in an inability to visualize what a bonsai should look like.

This hits the nail on the head for me, and I have of late been suggesting in my advice to beginners that, in addition to read up and join a club, that they spend some time looking at pics of good quality bonsai. That way, the difference between a good bonsai and a stick in a pot should become apparent. Many novices (and I am including myself some fifteen years ago) had little idea of what good bonsai look like when we started, especially since mallsai are for many the only "benchmark."

Another beginner posted on a different thread a few days ago, then came back a couple of days later to say how embarrassed he was at posting his stick in a pot now that he'd had gone and looked at good trees. Btw, this was one of the reasons why we set up our Gallery section a couple of years ago, so that members could have a visual reference and not have to wade through thousands of threads.

I am not saying don't use "lesser" material to practise on; that to me is sensible. But as Vance and others are trying to say, remember all things are relative and there is most definitely a better end of "lesser" out there.

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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  Sorcertree on Fri Dec 26, 2014 11:15 am

Parables have human characters.
It is a fable. Though the lead character does have the same attributes as a suicide bomber.

One that could be equally told by Joewebb, with who he is, being patient, dedicated, and full of vision.

Achieve - to get or attain by effort; gain; obtain

Most of the effort may be a practice of patience. Even so, the correct answer to the OP's question is simply yes.
He said "I obtained" with no further mention of "I", we don't know if he intends to have his great grandchildren see the end of the achievement.

Old people still start seeds.
Everything grows, Every tree started so thin.

A man enslaved by time has an end.
A man who prunes in spring is not enslaved by time.

Should we agree to tell Joe to be less patient?

He did not ask for our opinions on that!

What if the picture was of a seed?

Sorce

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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  Sorcertree on Fri Dec 26, 2014 11:31 am

This is not Internet Finished Masterpeice Bonsai Club.

Bonsai is generational, how quick do the impatient forget that.
Bonsai is seeds.
Bonsai is the cows that smash those awesome European Deciduous Yamadori.
Bonsai is a field of the OPs material.
Bonsai is our children's children's children.
Bonsai is wind and fire.
Bonsai is Bans on collecting.
Bonsai is part life, part death.
Bonsai is rewarding. Time equals value of reward.
Bonsai is easily pigeonholed. To no value.

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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  JimLewis on Fri Dec 26, 2014 2:32 pm

But Jim, surely the flaw in your argument is that this thread relates to someone who is a self confessed novice.

If we had still been talking about that tree at that point, maybe so, but the discussion had digressed as discussions tend to do in this very haphazard environment. We'd already said whatever could be said about his tree.

All beginners should do as Fiona suggests and study nice bonsai before they leap into the sport, but very few will do it that way (or know that they should), but will go out and buy a cheap plant, stare at it a bit then call for help.

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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  Vance Wood on Fri Dec 26, 2014 4:06 pm

JimLewis wrote:Of course, people buy "lousy stuff" because it is cheap.  That's why Lowes and Home Depot seem so popular  in North America (and wherever else they may be).   They end up buying a dozen cheap (AKA Lousy) plants, when they could have spent that same amount of money on ONE good plant at a real nursery or -- even -- a bonsai nursery (better than a bonsai STORE).

Many folks even brag about how "cheap" the plant they bought was.  Go figure.

There is a distinct difference between cheap and lousy, one does not include or preclude another.  For years I have purchased cheap Mugo Pines from the nursery trade and cheap Scots Pines from farms that cultivate material for Christmas trees.  I also buy shimpaku Junipers from the nursery trade when I can find them.  All of the trees I have are cheap, only one was close to $75, every thing else has been in the under $50 range and some under $10.  If you count the liners I get from the farms we are looking at under $5 in some cases.       Though many would sit back and chuckle under their breaths:  "They're still lousy"  and in some respects they would be right.  But I have won numerous awards in several states for my lousy trees and I am happy that every year I can see them getting better.



Five dollar Mugo



Three Dollar Mugo



$20 Mugo



Same Mugo Today as it was redesigned for our clubs 41st show.  Of course this tree would never qualify for KoKuFuTen or anything like that but I bet I could sell it for a couple of thousand dollars tody with little trouble---if I wanted to sell it.



Three Dollar Mugo as it is after the beginnings of a redesign this summer.

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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  beer city snake on Fri Dec 26, 2014 7:59 pm

thanks for showing that vance, as i my self was just going to make the point that bigger material does not have to break the bank...

i have scored a bunch of things in the late fall here in the upper midwest when all the nurseries are on clearance, clarence... 50-75% off etc... one place this year had enormous bald cypress (8-10') for about $40 sale price... i had to pass, but one of our AAC guys got one with a super fat ass trunk and chopped it down to about 2' tall)

is it hard to swallow, taking a big tree and cutting it way down the first time ?
you betcha !

but i have more than 1 that i have collected that i wish i would have followed that advise at first,
but i didnt and instead, here it is 2-3 years later and i am basically starting over by doing so now...
what did i lose ?
nothing more than a couplafew growing seasons...

getting comfortable with the hack-back was not easy, but it helps to see the results when others have done it...

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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  Vance Wood on Fri Dec 26, 2014 8:30 pm

beer city snake wrote:thanks for showing that vance, as i my self was just going to make the point that bigger material does not have to break the bank...

i have scored a bunch of things in the late fall here in the upper midwest when all the nurseries are on clearance, clarence... 50-75% off etc... one place this year had enormous bald cypress (8-10') for about $40 sale price... i had to pass, but one of our AAC guys got one with a super fat ass trunk and chopped it down to about 2' tall)

is it hard to swallow, taking a big tree and cutting it way down the first time ?
you betcha !

but i have more than 1 that i have collected that i wish i would have followed that advise at first,
but i didnt and instead, here it is 2-3 years later and i am basically starting over by doing so now...
what did i lose ?
nothing more than a couplafew growing seasons...

getting comfortable with the hack-back was not easy, but it helps to see the results when others have done it...

Good for you and I bet you had what is more easily described as a shit-laod-o-fun doing the work on the trees. That is probably the most important reason for doing this in the firs place. Bonsai takes patience but bonsai is also fun. Bonsai need not be an exercise in understanding geologic time. I have this philosophy: It is better to play around with big stuff where a big mistake does not mean a lot,---- than it is playing around with little stuff where even a little mistake can have big time consequences----if you live long enough to realize or even understand what you have done.

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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  beer city snake on Fri Dec 26, 2014 9:00 pm

right on, vance !

and yes, just as in my other artistic endeavors ( https://www.etsy.com/shop/BeerCitySnake )
if it aint fun, i aint doing it.

beer city snake
Member


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Re: Juniperus Pfitzeriana Aurea Material Suitability

Post  Sponsored content Today at 2:33 am


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