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Category Archives: Shaping

Styling The Juniper Procumbens – Part 2 of 6 – Juniper #2

So here we are with tree #2

Juniper #2 - Cascade Potential

and it sort of looks a bit worse than tree # 1 as far as having any bonsai potential. I’m sure you can tell that I’ll probably be doing this one in a cascade style, simply because that’s what most people would do with this one, although if it were mine I probably wouldn’t style it that way. It has a somewhat tendency to want to be a cascade, but it also looks like we’re taking the easy way out in styling it this way simply because the trunk is already leaning over somewhat.

Here’s another view from a different angle.

Juniper #2 - Alt View

Again as with the last tree we need to look deep inside to see what will stay and what will be cut off.

Examining the juniper

So here we go, everything on the left will be removed so as to expose a good portion of the trunk.

Everything on the left will be removed

By leaning the tree a bit to a different angle I can see if there is any potential in styling it this way.

see the potential when leaned to the left?

We also need to do like the last tree and cut off any downward hanging foliage.

Remove downward hanging foliage

We’re just about there now after doing much nipping and branch removal.

Just about done

Finally ready to start applying our wire and give it the style we’ve been looking for.

Wiring the junioer

Again we’ll be applying wire through the drainage holes to secure the tree to the pot.

Securing Juniper to pot with wire

And here we are with our finished cascade juniper. As I mentioned with tree # 1, I’ll be using an oversize plastic pot for this one also. It might look a bit out of place for now, but patience and time will allow the person who gets this tree to be able to pot it into a smaller nicer cascade pot down the road and have a healthy happy tree also.

Completed Juniper #2

Continue to Part 3 πŸ™‚

Thomas J.

Styling The Juniper Procumbens – A Six Part Series of Before and After Styling for Beginners – Juniper #1

Here is juniper #1

Juniper 1

and as you can see it poses no potential for a bonsai at this point. These type of junipers are mound junipers and their natural tendency is to lay flat and mound up its foliage.

With some of these all you have to do is be a bit creative and stick your fingers inside the foliage and see what’s in there. Basically just move things around. As you can see in this next pic I found something pretty interesting that I think will work.

Juniper 1 - Pic2

So now the styling begins. The first thing is to remove some of the plastic nursery pot in order to see just exactly what I have to work with in the way of foliage removal

Styling Picture 1

One thing you’ll want to do is remove most foliage that growing down under the branches. By doing this you are allowing the branch to be highlighted and considered a tree and not a shrub.

Styling 2

Another thing will be to pinch off any really heavy buds for now during the initial styling.

Removing heavy buds

So now I’m ready to do some wiring. At this stage on this particular tree, all that is needed is some wiring on the trunk to shape it.

Beginning Wiring

Looking at the back side of the tree, cut or pinch off foliage to give the back a nice downward taper. When cutting off foliage on a juniper, always cut as far inside as possible. You should never cut haphazardly as if you were trimming an outside hedge or bush. After your main styling, you will be mainly pinching to shape, and that too must be done the proper way. More on that later.

Pinching the shape

So now you can see the basic shape I’m after with this particular tree.

basic shape appears

Now I’m ready for a training pot.

training pot

All the pots you see with these 6 junipers will be over size plastic bonsai pots as I mentioned in the intro blog to these series of junipers. They will need to be oversize because I won’t be removing all the soil but probably 1/3 to 1/2 of the soil. At this particular time of the year I’m really past the repotting stage so as not to endanger the tree too much, I won’t disturb the roots very much. A cheap plastic bonsai pot that you see here will add to the interest of working with your new bonsai while still training it to maybe some day be a great tree in your collection.

Next is the soil I’ll be using,

Fujiyama Soil

basic Dallas Bonsai Garden soil will work for this type of tree. Soil and what type to use is a big issue on most bonsai forums, so if you read somewhere of a different type soil application for your new juniper tree, and are convinced through the trials and errors of others, then by all means try it. Just make sure that it is a free draining soil and that you sift out the really fine dust that will most likely turn to mud if you don’t.

Once you have your pot and soil ready, the next step will be to insert wire through the drainage holes to help tie down the tree in the pot since it will be quite unstable in its new home for a while at least anyway.

Juniper and training pot

And there you have it, your new juniper bonsai pretty much made from scratch really.

Potted juniper 1

Find a nice semi shady spot on your bonsai bench and keep an eye that the tree doesn’t dry up and within a couple of years you should have a nice juniper bonsai.

Bonsai in shade

One thing to make note of is the thick green branches will in time turn to a hard woody type branch, just be patient with this. After a couple of months it will be necessary to start the tree on a fertilizer program in order to give it the trace minerals it will need to keep it from yellowing out. I like to give mine an acid type fertilizer, the kind I would use on azaleas and they just love it.

Continue to Part 2 πŸ™‚

Thomas J.

An Introduction To Styling The Juniper Procumbens

Well as I mentioned in my last blog, I was asked to do a series of before and after styling on some 1gal. juniper procumbens. I have to say I was at least a bit hesitant to do it mainly because 1gal junipers of this type don’t have much potential for bonsai styling this early on.
But then I remembered back to my early days of bonsai when anything and everything looked like it had potential to become a fantastic bonsai. Trouble is my ego and enthusiasm was quite big back then and found out that the one main ingredient for a fantastic bonsai is time. How much time depends on the material quite frankly.
If you’re going to style a 1 gal. juniper you had better be ready to accept the fact that it will only be shohin size at that point, and even then be prepared to wait a few years to bring the styling to maturity.
The first initial styling will be most likely a chop of the main trunk and a bit of wiring to get it started. A 1gal. juniper usually only has one main trunk and everything else is just waiting to mature into a branching system.

Back in 1998 I gave my first try at working with a juniper procumbens. The pic below shows what I came up with after the first initial styling.

1998 - My First Juniper Procumbens Stlying

This juniper was probably a little bit bigger than what I’ll be working on this time because there were more woody type branches to work with. As I was still learning a lot in my early years, I found out that putting a tree into a small pot and keeping the roots confined not only kept it small, but didn’t allow for it to improve much either, especially with this type of juniper. This next pic shows a little improvement in five years time.

2003 - The same bonsai after some improvement

One thing it did do though was build up a nice branching system which allowed me to begin part two of the styling work.
I decided at that time to make this tree a semi-cascade bonsai. It was the ideal candidate because it wasn’t the kind you normally see in that it didn’t just bend over as if someone forced it that way. Below is the tree after about three or four years from the second styling.

Part 2 of the styling work - becoming a cascade bonsai

With the six junipers I’ll be working on, I’ll try as much as possible to give a good variety of styling on them even though if you were to look at them close up, each one looks almost identical to the other. Hopefully you can see that if you train your eye, the possibility to make each one different isn’t really so hard.

I will be posting one juniper for each week for six weeks. After that I will post a small gallery of the trees in a somewhat formal setting just so you can see that maybe one or two of them might have a good future down the road in a few years.
One thing to bring to your attention is the fact that I”ll be using oversize pots on these trees because in my area it’s a little past repotting time so I’ll be leaving quite a bit of soil and roots that will have to be attended to next year in order to get them into a smaller pot.

And to get you in the mood, here’s a little preview of an “after” pic from one of the six junipers

Preview of one of the 6 junipers

See you next time with juniper #1. πŸ™‚

How to Wire a Juniper (Video)

Mike demonstrates how to wire a juniper bonsai tree he purchased from Dallas Bonsai Garden. This video shows the 2 main branches being wired in a cascade style by referring to an image for inspiration.

The takeaways are:

  1. Use inspiration to help you design your bonsai trees.
  2. Make incremental changes over time.
  3. Your tree won’t be a masterpiece the minute you wire it.

Cleaning up a Shimpaku

One of the nice things about participating on bonsai forums is that you can meet some nice people, some of which you’ll probably never meet personally in your life time because of the fact that where they live and where you live might not make it possible. But just having that common bond of bonsai brings you and them a little closer even if the distance is a great deal.

But what if you meet someone online who is closer than you’d expect and he or she has taken an interest in your work and would like to have you work with one or even some of their trees? This has happened to me a few times and has worked to benefit both of us.

It is also the reason for this article this month. I had a person contact me back in January of 2006 who I had known from one of the bonsai forums. It turned out that he didn’t live as close as I would have liked, but not really that far off either. He told me he had a tree, a shimpaku that he wanted me to style for him, and he was willing to travel the distance for me to make this possible.

I had never really done work for anyone other than myself when it comes to styling, but I love working with shimpakus and the challenge was beckoning me to take him up on it.

We finally set up a date when he would drop the tree off with me and allow me to work on it at my own speed. I think he was kind of stunned when the next day I sent him a photo of the finished tree.

Below is a picture of the tree as it was shown to me before I agreed to work on it.

As I said, I love working with shimpakus and couldn’t wait to get going on it. It was as much fun as I could handle while working on this tree. I became oblivious to everything else at the time and just dove right in.

Here’s what I ended up with after a few hours of nothing but shimpaku pleasure.

It was mid winter so after about a month I went ahead and repotted the tree for him also. As you can see after only one month the tree is growing rapidly.

Just before spring arrived I had come to face the fact that it was time to send the tree back to its owner who was eagerly awaiting its arrival. I have to admit there was some sadness there on my part.

A few months later I asked my friend to send me a pic of the tree so I could see how she was coming along. The tree at this point was starting to get just a bit more foliage than what I would have liked, and I suggested to keep up with the pinching so it wouldn’t lose too much shape.

Now one thing my friend does know, and that is how to feed a shimpaku and keep it just as happy as can be. Sometimes the things we love the most, are the things that may somehow get away from us if we’re not careful, which I believe is what happened here.

As I mentioned in my last article, these guys will get away from you real fast if your not careful.

This past August My friend e-mailed me and asked me if I would like to buy the tree since he was thinning out his collection. He gave me first shot at it with a price that I simply couldn’t refuse. I felt kind of bad when I let him have his tree back after the original styling, and now it was like having and old friend coming back, but this time to stay. He sent me a pic of what she looked like and I was stunned. I didn’t think a shimp could put that much growth on in a little over two years.

I knew I was in for quite a task. For me it’s a lot easier to style a tree from scratch than it is to clean one up. I took this pic just before starting the task.

Actually it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be as I could see from the start what needed to be done. After a good clean up, rewiring would be the next step.

Finally the tree is starting to look handsome again but still needs a lot of refining as time goes on. As you can probably notice, again as with the last tree in last months article, I opened and thinned everything out so that everything as much as possible, is in proportion to the trunk including the foliage.

I’ll have to keep up with my pinching and be careful not to overpinch and start getting die back on the branches or the tips of the foliage, I will try and repot her into a more shallow pot and also try and correct the root problem if possible, but most of all I will enjoy having my old friend back again as she delights me with her simple charm and beauty.

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