Taming the three headed beast

I have this parson’s juniper I picked up at a few years ago at a wholesale landscape nursery for cheap.
I mean, like $5, in a 3 gallon container size. It has Beautiful trunk but, that’s it.
He might have given it to me for free even, after a large purchase of ilex schillings.
The juniper wasn’t in a “Florida A+” growing grade so he wanted to get rid of it.
I got it in the month of May and the soil had degraded a bit so I slip-potted it into a slightly bigger pot to gain strength.
Last January I put it into a training pot with bonsai soil.
Um….here it is today….
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I know.
I mean, like, jeez, what a lemon.
It has a good trunk-
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But, what the hell?
What can you do with these?
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Besides try to ward off the beast with a hand gesture (SHOUT! SHOUT! Shout at the devil!)
Of course I could grow it for 5 more years and get it to bud back and all that, like a well behaved bonsai guy should do……
But…..nahhh.
These branches are bendable.
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Let’s see what we can do.
I have one word for you: raffia.
I have three more words for you: self-amalgamating tape.
Raffia is a natural palm fiber that is usually used for crafty things like, well, I’m not sure…let’s google-ize it…..
That was an education. The raffia palm tree is an important crop in Africa and the island of Madagascar. Not only is rope, clothing and mats woven from the fibers (or fibres, as it was written on the wiki page, probably by some British bloke) but one can tap the tree for its sap (it kills the tree but, weirdly, this tree dies after flowering anyway) and make an alcoholic drink out of it. Which then can be distilled to make Ogogoro, which a further wiki search (I’ve graduated from the googles to the wikis) http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogogoro reveals….well, you’ll have to read it yourself.
This is a blog about a bonsai tree and I’m about to do some serious work on it.
But the Ogogoro will fortify my courage.
A little sip of some “Craze Man in a Bottle” and I’ll be…tight, ready.
Self-amalgamating tape is a kind of electrical tape that doesn’t have adhesives on it but it sticks to itself.
It’s used by the discerning electricians and bonsai artists world wide for its ease of use and coolness factor.
And damn it if I’m not cool.
You’d have a beer with me, right?
My buddy Nick had gotten it because he dislikes raffia (of which you must wet when you use and he’s a computer guy who doesn’t like the wet work) and I promptly stole it for my own use.
I haven’t explained what the S-A tape or the raffia is for yet, have I?
Basically (I’ve explained this in previous posts a whole lot better) it keeps the branch from breaking when (as you shall see) you wrap the branch tightly with either of these (and other products even. One could use duct tape or, if you can acquire it, Chuck Norris’ hair, if you want).
It works, trust me.
Have I dissembled enough?
Back to work then Lavigne!
I’ll be using the S-A tape today because, like I said, I’m cool like that….
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Wrap it as such that you have an overlap of about half.
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And then I use three heavy wires (why three? Because four is forbidden.)
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Then I break out my trusty, hand forged, home made branch bender.
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Ready?
Ok, first bend:
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Well now….
2nd bend, side view:
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As I did with the Hollywood juniper, I’m going to place the main branches and trunk first and then wire the secondary’s.
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How’s that?
Like a boss, right?
I’m a like a bonsai rockstar…..
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‘Ya feelin’ me?
Sorry, got carried away there.
Won’t happen again.
Back to the tree….
Time for some Jin
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I was waiting to kill off this branch until after I bent the other two, just in case I broke them.
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And you must agree, a juniper just needs some proper deadwood.
Now the wiring…
For reference
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Side view:
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Rear view:
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Dramatic photoshopped Instagram view:
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(@adamaskwhy…..look me up)
Before all the work:
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And after:
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Actually, that’s not quite right, it needs to be tilted a bit like so….
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This being the very first styling, the tree is, of course, very rough, but it has good bones now; the structure is set and it just needs to fill in now.
The foliage pads will be pulled in tighter and present more of a canopy.
Though I like to see inside the tree more than how some of the more modern juniper stylings are presented. Especially if there is deadwood, a more natural look wouldn’t have half the tree jinned, sharied and hollowed but have a massive mushroom head on top.
As always, I will update you all on the progress or (hopefully not) the demise if this juniper.

About adamaskwhy

Visual artist specializing in bonsai, mostly.
This entry was posted in branch placement and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Taming the three headed beast

  1. Charles says:

    Thanks Adam. I have a couple very similar to this but much larger…now I have a plan to be a bonsai rock star like you!

  2. FarmGirl says:

    Actually that reminded me a lot of the evergreens we get out here on the plains, to start with… a lot of them wind up with the short trunks and long upward reaching branches because of conditions here. Some of the older ones wind up with a really dramatic windswept look which I happen to like.

    Granted I’m not entirely certain how I’d have pulled off a styling for that look with the three branches you had, but it is a look I like even if it’s not “correct” for evergreen bonsai 😛

    (Unrelated note, the Fukien Tea that you gave me advice on a while back is doing well in the six inch pot. Haven’t seen a whole lot of outgrowth but the leaves are healthy and it’s given me lots of flowers and berries. I’m content with the signs that Tiny Tim is healthy and can wait for more growth.)

  3. Do you have any long term experience with that S-A tape? Meaning, have the branches survived after several months of taping? I would wonder if the heat generated under that black tape in our hot Florida sun would do any damage?

    • adamaskwhy says:

      I know that Pedro Morales uses it in Puerto Rico and has had no problems. It could also be argued that it actually insulates and protects the branch, it’s that thick.
      It’s been used around the world in hot places from Italy, Indonesia, Taiwan etc that I’m not too worried.
      But it’s a very good question.

  4. Mills Goodlett says:

    A very good presentation, Adam. I wish I could see you in action with that branch bender – probably like going through the gears in a grad prix? I still want to make one of those benders one day to help me. Any chance you could sketch one out some day with some dimensions? And I’m going to keep my eye peeled for some of that tape the next time I go to a store – that could become handy in a lot of applications, not just branch bending. Wish I lived closer to you, so I could attend some of your demo’s. *Rock on* & keep the good stuff coming!

  5. Nice, I wish more people understood the rationale about bringing the foliage to the tree!

  6. sikadelic says:

    I didn’t know Kevin Smith made guest appearances in your blog!

  7. Pingback: A juniper and some severe bending | Adam's Art and Bonsai Blog

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