Developing a Juniper Shohin/ Juniper Bonsai Progression Series

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Why plant the tree into the ground when it already has an established trunk? The tree was planted out for a multitude of reasons.

Firstly, the tree needed time to recover from such heavy work. Secondly, the new trunkline (developed from the one branch that was left) needed to be thickened to create a more natural step in taper from the thicker trunk (note that in the image above, new trunkline is wrapped in raffia and so it is not obvious that some thickening is required). Thirdly, I now needed to develop what would become the branches from what were just thin shoots growing from the new trunkline.

Last of all; one result of removing so much foliage would be that the roots and life-lines (that run the length of the trunk) that supported the branches that have been removed will dieback. Natural shari's (lengths of deadwood on the trunk) will develop as the now-redundant life-lines die. Until the natural shari and remaining life-lines (that will support the remaining branch and foliage) appear on the trunk, it is difficult to accurately style the tree. Again, until the newly redundant roots have died back, it is not easy to select which roots to keep and which to remove in order to get the tree into a much smaller bonsai pot.

And so, after some intensive work through August 2002, the tree was planted into the ground and 'forgotten' about for 18 months. (There is no reason why the tree could not have remained in a pot (ensuring that it is not completely rootbound as nursery trees often are), however, planting the tree into the ground is often just more convenient).

Juniper

March 2006 and the tree was lifted from the ground. In the previous 18 months the tree has been worked on twice. Once in the Spring to bend the new trunkline further and again in August to heavily prune the foliage and to remove the wire and raffia.

The image above shows the tree with a naturally reduced rootball; the result of the roots made redundant by branch removal falling away as I cleaned the ground soil from the remaining roots. Now it is small enough to fit into a mica training pot without any need to trim the live roots.

Juniper

March 2006 continued. With the tree strong and vigorous and newly potted up, it was time to do some more styling in preparation for the forthcoming growing season.

Juniper

The first job was to remove the dead bark from the trunk and reveal the natural shari. This helps establish the definitive 'front' of the tree from which the foliage and branches will be arranged. The newly revealed deadwood is carved to add a more interesting and natural texture and then lime-sulphured.

Juniper

And the tree was wired. For a cohesive and satisfactory bonsai design, it is essential that Junipers are wired completely at least once in their lives. It is very difficult to style a Juniper bonsai otherwise, particularly one so small that the precise placement of each branch is paramount.

I wasn't particularly happy with the top part of the foliage/apex in this image but decided to wait a few months before addressing its problematic appearance.

Juniper

July 2007. 18 months had passed since the last images and the tree had been styled again. I finally decided to remove the foliage in the apex and the top of the trunkline but retained them as jin. The tree has been planted into a (slightly over-sized) bonsai pot from Erin Pottery and the remaining foliage pads have been newly trimmed and wired.

Note that what had at first (in 2002) been the one branch left on an otherwise bare trunk, has now become a continuation of the trunk itself, and that the entire foliage mass now grows from just one branch that had been but a tiny shoot just 4 years ago.

And the final height of the tree? Just 8"/20cm tall including the upper jins.

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