You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Juniperus procumbens’ tag.

It seems a consistent theme is me not updating my blog. Well, it’s been a long time between posts again so figured I should make an update…..

I’ve been fairly active doing various things within the garden and have recently been involved in a local bonsai gathering with some bonsai mates which has spurred my passion for bonsai along again.

During one of these catch up’s I brought along and worked on the tree features in this post. It has featured on the blog before (2012) as per the post below. That said, it has changed quite dramatically since then.

I was never entirely happy with the procumbens foliage on this tree. It could be made to look good but it grew quickly and needed a lot of up-keep to maintain at its best. So I decided to graft it with Itoigawa.

It turns out that this was a long process from which I’ve learnt a few things.

Probably the biggest take away was the size of the scions to use. I had originally used small pieces of scion foliage on the belief they would perspire less and therefore have a higher chance of success. This was the case and they were successful, but they took forever to build up enough strength to grow into something I could think about styling and or cutting the original foliage back to (think several years post graft success).

The next round of grafting I used much larger whips as scions. (probably in the 150-200mm long range.) I found that the extra foliage, almost immediately, built up strength and vigor and as a result could be utilised in much shorter time frames post grafting.

It took me a few years to learn these lessons so the ‘changing of clothes’ process took a lot longer than it might have otherwise. That said, I am now using these learnings on other trees and benefiting from the previous errors. You will see from the image below, I am growing out some whips on this tree to be used as grafts on other stock.

To cut a long story short, I finally got around to doing a structural styling on the new foliage on this tree and I am pretty happy with where it stands. It has a lot of growing to do to fill out and develop secondary and tertiary structure but its now on a good path.

The first styling

The questions remains though, is this a procumbens juniper (sonare) or an itoigawa?

This post follows the progression of 6 months in the life of a Procumbens juniper. Last June i did a demonstration for a local club, Bonsai Northwest Inc. As most of my trees had been worked and I had very little left to do on them it was decided that we purchased some stock for the demo. While digging through all the stock at ‘Baloc Bonsai’ I came across this juniper.

The Juniper before the demonstration

The Juniper before the demonstration but after a bit of a cleanup.

Having looked over the tree for a day or so before hand while it was in my garden I came up with a plan for improvement. From the tree’s original front the foliage mass was not close to the trunk, I thought with  a little work I could compact the foliage mass into a denser crown.

The foliage from the original front.

The foliage from the original front.

I also thought I could change the front and make use of a more interesting trunk and jin line. This plan created a few issues that I had to deal with in order to complete the re-styling. First was the trunk angle. From the original the trunk needed to be stood up around 30 degrees, which in turn placed most of the foliage pointing out towards the back of the tree.

Most of the bending of the larger branches was completed with the help of a bending jack as seen in the photo.

Jack in place prior to bending.

Jack in place prior to bending.

The other issue was that from the new front the jin did not compliment the movement of the tree so this was bent by means of what is essentially steam bending. I wrapped the jin in wet towels and plastic sandwich film over night to moisten the jin and then used a small gas torch to heat up and soften the wood fibres so that it could be bent into a new direction.

After the jin was re-possitioned and main branch bent into possition.

After the jin was repositioned and main branch bent into position.

The next step was compacting the foliage to form the crown and subsequaint branches. This was done with a combination of guy-wires and heavy wiring. The below picture shows the result. A small towel covered some branching that was to be removed once the tree had back budded in that area.

The result at the end of the demo.

The result at the end of the demo.

If you look from the original front you can see how the foliage has been moved from its original positions to compliment the new front.

The re-styling from the original front.

The re-styling from the original front.

Since the demo I re-potted the tree into a new container at the new planting angle. It grew out well in early spring with plenty of back-bedding and fresh growth. It was time to work on the foliage.

After some strong spring growth.

After some strong spring growth.

All this new growth provided me with the chance to cut out some of the leggy old growth and replace it with more compact fresh shoots.

A leggy branch with tired looking foliage.

A leggy branch with tired looking foliage.

The branch cut back so the fresh shoot at its base can replace it.

The branch cut back so the fresh shoot at its base can replace it.

In this way I was able to improve and remove some of the poorer condition and leggy foliage. I cut more out of the strong areas and left a little more in the weaker areas to balance the growth of the tree.

After the cut back.

After the cut back.

I was also able to remove one of the branches on the right side and hopefully in a few months I will be also able to cut back the other right hand branches.

There are a few other thing I want to do, such as lowering the planting position, define the live veins, and work on the shari texture, but for the time being those things can wait.

What the tree desperately needs now is a full wiring, I want to further compact the apex and better form up the crown and branches but unfortunately that will have to wait until my wrist heals. Hopefully I will be able to do it in a few more months.  In the mean time I will keep feeding it heavily and keep replacing old growth with new healthy growth so when it does come time to wire, the tree is ready.

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