Juniper - what would you do?

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Juniper - what would you do?

Postby shibui » March 3rd, 2017, 5:11 pm

This juniper is the result of a long process.
I've posted previously about its origins as a prickly, upright, blue juniper that I grew for a few years in the ground. It survived transplant but I quickly got sick of trying to fight its natural upright growth habit and the very spiky foliage so, after reading about grafting junipers thought this would be an ideal candidate. Initial attempts at normal grafts failed miserably so I tried approach grafts and some worked. Over 5 years all the major branched had shimpaku approach grafted on. You can see a little of this process in the link below.

The current incarnation was designed by Hiro at a BSV workshop in Melbourne in 2014. http://www.ausbonsai.com.au/forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=18163&hilit=+juniper+hiro
The grafted points are now hard to spot and few people would suspect the origins of this tree.
shimpaku large 2017 3 4.JPG


Since then it has grown and filled out, maybe too much? There are a few aspects that I'm just not quite happy with so thought I'd challenge all you budding bonsai designers to offer suggestions.

The challenge now goes out to all Ausbonsai members, no matter how new or experienced. Any one should be able to tell us what aspects you like, what aspects don't appeal. Don't be shy, your opinion cannot be wrong and all contributions will be accepted in the spirit they are offered. :tu2:

If you would like to take the more advanced challenge, let us know what changes you'd like to see, either in words or pictures (for those who are clever enough to do the virt or drawing thing :lost: :lost: )

Here are current pictures
shimpaku large 2017 3 9.JPG

shimpaku large 2017 3 6.JPG

shimpaku large 2017 3 7.JPG

shimpaku large 2017 3 8.JPG

shimpaku large 2017 3 3.JPG
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Re: Juniper - what would you do?

Postby Raging Bull » March 3rd, 2017, 7:42 pm

Hi Shibui,
Well, you asked for it..... :tu: I like it and I'm looking forward to when my starters will look something like that. The only thing that seems not quite right to me is the amount of Jin, for me it is a bit too much. Well that's my :2c:
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Re: Juniper - what would you do?

Postby boom64 » March 3rd, 2017, 9:12 pm

Hi Shibui
Warning, uninformed opinion coming....
To me the present front looks more like two trees. The curve of the right hand trunk looks a little at odds with the straightness of the large jin and the left trunk. Not sure if removal or shortening jin would help.
The second picture (side view) initially grabbed me ,I can see tall wispy jins with super small sparse foliage pads ducking in between the jins. An old veteran just holding on.
Not really that helpful. Regards John.
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Re: Juniper - what would you do?

Postby Muddy » March 3rd, 2017, 11:04 pm

Like previous posters have said... You asked for it!
I think that there is so much going on & the eye doesn't know what to look at. Too many jin, too much structure/branching, too tall.
Cut the whole thing down & develop a new long term plan for the tree.

2min MSPaint vert:

shimpaku large 2017 3 9.JPG
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Last edited by Muddy on March 3rd, 2017, 11:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Juniper - what would you do?

Postby M.J » March 4th, 2017, 2:18 am

I think it looks quite good. I like the Jin poking through the tops of the foliage. Only a few things I would change if it were mine. Looking at the first picture, I would remove the number of Jin between the two main trunks and create clear space there. The branch that hangs down on the right and touches the pot and covers the tape measure, needs to be removed. It seems out of place to me. Then an overall haircut to thin it out a bit and I would even create another Jin to poke out of the very top of the left trunk.
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Re: Juniper - what would you do?

Postby Kevin » March 4th, 2017, 5:53 am

Hello Shibui,

I like the back as the new front, the silhouette appears more natural.
Remove the lowest branch and create / refine the remaining foliage into clouds.
I think i like the Jins in situ, but hard to assess exactly from here.
Whatever angle you take i believe this will become a mighty fine tree.

Good luck,
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Re: Juniper - what would you do?

Postby treeman » March 4th, 2017, 2:03 pm

I like it. Trim it so we can see all the branches (at least the secondary branches) and treat that dead wood before you lose it! Then post another pic! (front and back without the bottle or even the pot)
Last edited by treeman on March 4th, 2017, 2:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Juniper - what would you do?

Postby benbonsai » March 4th, 2017, 2:22 pm

I'm with treeman, I like it, has plenty of character.
Obviously needs a trim and tidy up and a bit of styling. I wouldn't be doing too many drastic changes.
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Re: Juniper - what would you do?

Postby shibui » March 4th, 2017, 4:34 pm

Thanks for the ideas so far. Keep them coming please so we can all try to pick up a few more styling tips.
All great observations and ideas. I'd just like to explore some in more depth.

Raging Bull:
The only thing that seems not quite right to me is the amount of Jin, for me it is a bit too much.
Do you mean too many individual pieces (ie remove some completely)? - I think this might be what Muddy is also suggesting?; too much visual weight of dead wood compared to live sections?; Jins too long (shorten to stubs maybe)?; other?

MJ has suggested removing some of the jins between the 2 main trunks. At the moment that larger jin in there disappears into the foliage above so does not really add much with its height. Maybe that would be one to shorten back to a stubby jin?

Several comments along the lines of it having too much foliage which I agree with fully. It definitely needs a haircut. At the moment I'm thinking of taking out some branches or sub branches to create some spaces and moving some of those that are left afterwards.

Your virt gives another fairly dramatic juniper Muddy. It would look great on any show bench but I don't think I'll be taking this one there just yet.

Mike, the dead wood has been treated once or twice a year, now due (maybe overdue) for another treatment which I will do sometime this week when I get some time. I'll see what I can do about finding the secondary ramification for you as well.
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Re: Juniper - what would you do?

Postby melbrackstone » March 4th, 2017, 5:01 pm

I love the contrariness of this tree.... At first glance it could be an Aussie native...with all that straight trunk and upright branching, and with the deadwood standing proud in different parts at the top. On close inspection the juniper becomes evident, but I'm happy to say I'd continue to keep it looking like an Aussie native... just clean out a bit of foliage to make it look a little sparser, and it'll be a winner!
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Re: Juniper - what would you do?

Postby bodhidharma » March 4th, 2017, 5:06 pm

I personally would only go for Jin refinement, clean out of the foliage and a good wire out and see where i am at. It would present you a different picture to work with. Wouldn't mind it on my bench to play with.
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Re: Juniper - what would you do?

Postby anthonyW » March 4th, 2017, 7:41 pm

Hi Neil

To me the bulk of the tree is there,hardly any wire needed.

Only extension of deficient areas as in skinny...top and left hand side...the very bottom right remove.

In the sketch I have made a little bit fuller with foliage,but that is your call there, I would let the the foliage meld into the next pads(basically subtle lines)as you know,there is a fine line and topiary is what we are trying to avoid there,dare I say it

Clip and grow or pinch and grow once boundaries are in place.

The trunk and dead wood all outstanding wouldn't touch myself as foliage will be in out,between haircuts..sometimes we see it sometimes we don't all good there.

I have left some voids to expose it...your eye will dictate there.

Alot of p[promise there,thanks for some fun..good luck there.

cheers Anthony

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Re: Juniper - what would you do?

Postby alpineart » March 4th, 2017, 8:04 pm

Hi Shibui , after eyeballing this the other night and seeing the original drawing I would cut it back hard and maintain it as close as possible to Hiro's sketch .

I don't dislike the cloud pads on junipers but to me they don't work on your trunk , it being very upright and straight , wiring the branches down not too much , with subtle movement added and flatten the foliage out rather than the natural cloud growth habit of the Shimpaku
Less is more , less foliage more live vein/bark and deadwood , again as per original design and sketch .

I noticed at the meeting the new branches had plenty of movement against the lack of movement in the vertical trunks/deadwood , I was going to make a suggestion after the meeting but got tangled up with all those Shimps you brought along and it didn't happen .

Cheers . Alpine
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Re: Juniper - what would you do?

Postby Lane » March 5th, 2017, 6:01 am

Hiro's sketch has very sparse foliage and lots of deadwood depicting a struggle or lightning strike.

It seems you could now go the other way and reduce the deadwood significantly and work the foliage pads.

I like the idea of sticking with the original sparse design with the deadwood as a major feature, a more unique tree.
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Re: Juniper - what would you do?

Postby shibui » March 6th, 2017, 5:59 pm

You are right Lane. There are lots of great trees in this one. I hope that's one of the things readers get from this thread - there are almost always a number of options and all will be valid. Everyone needs to follow their instincts and style the tree they find most attractive. Don't worry what the 'experts' say too much.

I believe the first step in styling juniper is to thin out foliage so we can see the branching. Thinning and cleaning shoots out of the forks also makes wiring a little easier so this morning I followed Treeman and Bodhi's orders.
Nearly 3 hours later I have managed to prune, thin and wire the left side. Some branches removed completely, others shortened, especially towards the back. I've started trying to form separate foliage areas so we can see parts of the structure.
juniper grafted 2017 3 2.JPG


The right side needs some hard decisions. There are 3 branches all occupying the same visual area. It took me 5 years to get these grafted on and another 5 to grow them to this stage. It is not easy to just cut off all that time and effort :shake:
Need to look at it with fresh perspective in another day or 2.
Kevin and MJ, that hanging branch is still there ;) but I have my eye on it ;) I like that it hangs differently than the rest but it has always been weak because it is shaded by the trunk above. I'll see what it looks like after the rest of that side is done. :tu2:
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