Saturday, 8 September 2018

The Shrinking Juniper

One of the trees I bought in April as a candidate for Reddit's nursery stock contest was a rather large Juniper Mint Julep. I've already discussed its first styling in an earlier post.

As it was winter in South Africa, the tree has grown very little since then. I hadn't done any further work on it either - until today, when I decided to take it to my club's meeting for some "expert" advice.

April 2018

I wasn't expecting to do much more than remove the unwanted branches that I'd left uncut in April for fear of removing too much in one go and killing the tree. But Junipers are outside my comfort zone so I was looking for confirmation that it was safe to cut them now. With the benefit of hindsight I'm starting to wonder if I'd have been better off if I'd stuck to my original plan and removed those branches at home.

Instead, when the tree went up for critique, everyone seemed to have different ideas, and people soon started bending branches into different positions. One member even shortened the leader (which I was trying to thicken) without asking if I was happy for him to do so.

By this time the tree was already looking quite different from its appearance in the above picture and I was no longer sure where I was headed, so when today's speaker asked if I wanted him to turn it into a dramatic tree,  I agreed. On one condition - that he wouldn't kill my tree.

Before I knew it all the branches were gone and the leader was pulled downwards, leaving me with this:

September 2018

Is there enough left to keep it alive? If it was a Ficus I'd say yes, but with a Juniper I'm not sure.

Plans for the future are a repot as well as carving and bending the jin. For now, however, my major concern is the tree's survival.

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