Bonsai Blog

Preview of one of the 6 junipers

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™‚

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