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Old Juniper Hedge -- useful for bonsai?

I've long loved to view bonsai and am only just beginning to learn how to care for them. For so many years I had no outdoor space!

I just bought a home in the Daly City/Broadmoor area that is surrounded by 50+ year old juniper hedges. A few Boxwood too. Many of these I want to remove over the next year or so. I know that juniper is a common tree for bonsai use, so I'm wondering if some of these wonderful old trunks would make good bonsai specimens? They've been clipped as hedges so the branch structure would need work of course, but from what I've seen so far many of the plants have large and interesting bases. Most of these hedges are something like 18-24" tall.

Anyway, before I start ripping these out, I thought I'd ask the members of this forum if anyone would like some? They'd be free of course, all I ask is that you let me help you dig them up, and maybe you can share your knowledge while we work!

Also, if anyone out there knows that this just won't work, please let me know so I can grab my chainsaw without remorse...

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Hello and welcome to the Helpful Gardener. Perhaps you did not realize it but you are but a few clicks away from the [url=]Bonsai Forum.[/url] and the [url=]Bonsai Gallery.[/url]

Within the Gallery there is a thread entitled [url=]Bonsai Inspiration...[/url] Although I cannot point you to an exact post within the thread I am certain that you will find some fine examples of Juniper, and probably Boxwood, bonsai.

In the bonsai forum there are several sticky threads that can provide you some basic information concerning caring for bonsai. Follow the links within the threads for further reading.

And finally to answer your question, put your chainsaw away. Old landscape material, including both Juniper and Boxwood, can make fine bonsai. Please don't rush into anything though, when digging these trees timing is very important. Are you located in California? Perhaps you can edit your profile to be a little less specific, usually we have the opposite problem.

If you start a new thread in the bonsai forum you will probably reach a wider audience.


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Thanks, Gnome

I of course noticed the Bonsai forum after finding this friendly place!

Yes, I'm in California, about a mile from San Francisco. I'm glad to know that these old hedges may be useful--I'd hate to throw away 50 years of growth.

I'll repost in the Bonsai forum, and thanks for your kind advice,


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Ken, As a bonsai enthusiast myself, I echo the idea that juniper hedges can make suitable outdoor bonsai; in fact, any evergreen can. Since it is trimmed as a dense hedge, you've got a lot of inspection to do before you begin cutting limbs away. Because your choice of limb material is large, make sure as you trim down to a few base limbs you choose branches that angle sharply, which gives your final product a unique, aged look.
You're also going to need to trim the tops of the resulting limbs into cloud shapes (aka "cloud pruning"), which I'm assuming you have learned...
Be careful not to cut off too much at one time, you need some greenery for proper photosynthesis, so this may be a multi-year project.

For ideas, since you live in Daly City (aka "home of Filipino cuisine"), drive down sometime to one of my favorite N. Calif gardens, the one at Hayward, and check out how they trimmed their junipers. It's a great garden if you haven't seen it yet. Just a couple suggestions, Jim

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Are your junipers still available?

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