Have you ever seen a tree that you wanted to work on but, unfortunately, wasn’t yours?
When I first saw this tree I knew I would own it one day.
The back story:
Believe it or not, the tree was purchased from Jim Smith, in Vero Beach.
It was picked up by the Central Florida Bonsai Club for a possible demo in the future.
Well, it was cut back and allowed to fill in a bit. A few years later the board decided to have Mike Rogers give a demo on it.
Here is the tree after it was auctioned off (which, as I said, I won)
I got it for the deadwood.
I am a carver (if you didn’t know) and
I think that a tree needs deadwood to look old…among other things.
And the amount of possible carving and deadwood on this juniper was enough to give me that far off look in my eye and the little half smirk that, if you know me, you’ve seen, and were either frightened by it, or you wondered if I was losing my mind.
You should probably be frightened and I am probably losing my mind.
But that’s another post, I think.
Fast forward to a week or so ago and I began prepping it for a carving demonstration for the Hukyu and Sundamizu clubs.
It’s grown in quite a bit:
In fact, the wire is cutting in in several places.
Let’s talk Hollywood junipers.
Many people don’t think this type of juniper is suitable for bonsai.
They say that it grows too fast or it’s foliage isn’t ideal or it’s color is too green.
Or whatever.
Characteristically, the foliage is almost always scale (adult) foliage. A plus.
It grows, in what looks like to me, flame shaped foliage pads (Rocky Mountain juniper does too, but it’s not as tight a growth pattern).
It is really green but so is a shimpaku, if you compare the two.
I’m wondering why it’s not used much.
To the victim.
I did say it grows fast. Like I said, the wires are cutting in.
What I’m going to do at the nursery, before the demo, is some boring prep work.
Remove the old wire, remove the bark off the deadwood and remove the weak and unneeded foliage.
This branch was guy wired in place for the new apex. Let’s see if it will stay in there.
I guess not.
That’s ok. I need it higher any way.
Now, the knife:
Mike had killed off most of the top but he didn’t remove the bark. It’s usually easier to do when the bark is alive.
Wait a minute…. Do you see the pink?
I’m not sure how, but the trees bark is still alive there. There’s no foliage supporting it and hasn’t been for close to a year.
How bizarre.
Good for me I guess, it’ll make the stripping of the bark easier.
Finally, some decent before shots.
Now I’m ready for the demo.
Off to Clearwater!
The demo/workshop is a combined one for the Hukyu (Tampa) and the Sundamizu clubs.
Two great organizations. If you’re in the area look them up and give them a visit.
I didn’t get many pics at the demo as I was working but I got some and I’ll include some of the workshop trees too.
Before the work (above)
Some club members-
An extreme close up-
What a sexy beast I am, right?
Just a mild case of dandruff. (This is a pic by Jeff)
The carving:
After the demo we had a break, Clif Pottberg spoke a bit and we had lunch.
Then it was workshop time.
A few pics:
A Shimpaku-
Some refreshments-
A parsonnii juniper-
We made those Jin but they were all straight. By wiring movement into them just after you strip the bark, when the wood dries, the Jin will keep the bends and curves.
And then this juniper, which was a straight and uninteresting tree, just needed some raffia and wire-
Overall it was a good time; thanks to Jeff and Clif and Marty for setting it up. I hope I get to go back soon.
Back at my nursery the real work begins.
These are the before shots
And this is the front as I see it:
Give or take a few degrees.
The branches are pretty thick and to bend them I’ll need to use some raffia or….lookee here at what I have-
It is “self-amalgamating” electrical tape, which means it only sticks to itself.
This one is 3m brand but all the other tape manufactories make something similar.
It will take the place of the raffia.
Now we are ready for some fancy bonsai; although that looks kinda kinky.
Some heavy wire
One more wrap, at least three I think.
An esoteric implement.
A branch bender.
And a bit of grunting and cursing and sweating:
For those who’ve done this, it’s not the bending that’s hard (mostly) it’s the branch staying in place. That’s the purpose of the wire. And that’s why you’ll see, a lot of times, all kind of heavy wire and a guy wire.
I got lucky here, it’s staying where I put it and I got side to side and front to back movement in the branch.
To give you an idea how much I’ve moved it-
The before:
The after:
Now we have something to work with.
Looking at the branches now, I’m going to remove this back one-
It’s kinda odd, and I think we could use some more Jin.
Some wire (about 2 hours later….)
And there’s a nice structure now:
The top:
Some side views:
This sketch is how I see it filling in.
And after:
It obviously needs some more growth.
To borrow some terms from another artist, this tree is at about level 3, it needs probably about 2 more stylings before refinement.
If it’s growing well I’ll do a half repot on it in January/February (I’m in Florida, don’t use my timing unless, well, you’re here too). I’ll replace the soil it’s in with bonsai soil and reduce the pot by half.
I don’t expect it to be in a bonsai pot for 3 or 4 years.
TTFN my friends.

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