This post is about two very different junipers. One, a shimpaku, tall and thin like a supermodel. And the other, a procumbens nana, twisted and old. My Facebook friends will recognize the shimpaku already, I teased them with it a week ago:
The nana is another tree I acquired from D&L nursery (see the last post) and I’ve had it for almost a year.
Since I am such a tease, I will show the shimpaku last.
On to the nana.
When I first got it, I repotted the tree into a bulb pan from a three gallon nursery container. I used a mix of my regular soil and the “Akoi” mix from Japan.
I also created some jins:
Predictably, the living bark beneath the jins has died off:
So my first step is cleaning the bark and defining the shari.
You’ll notice the white sawdust-ish looking stuff. There is a tiny wood louse that was making a home under the bark.
Sorry, you didn’t need to see that.
Let’s examine our options:
Won’t talk huh?
We have ways to make you tell your story…..
The Jin pliers. Not really (as far as apocrypha tells) for Jinning but for wiring. We wonder (we being “us all”) why the ubiquitous “they” (they also being “us all”) call it a Jin plier.
Well, mein freunds, it’s awfully handy in the creation of jins. But not gin, although juniper berries are an ingredient in gin.
Maybe that’s the origin of the word Jin: gin is terribly bitter and hard to swallow but, after all, it makes you happy.
And it is a bitter loss for a branch to die but, ultimately it makes the tree look older and better and us (again, the us) happy.
Probably not……I’m so silly when I drink gin, I mean make jins…
Anyway, peel the bark, cut the end of the branch tip like thus:
And peel back a little at a time:
Now I have to make a top on this tree.
I could let it grow for another 5 years or do as my friend Marty says, do some “instant bonsai”.
I do have sufficient back budding to let it grow.
But I also have a branch that tapers perfectly that can be brought up and forward and down and to the right (that’s exactly how I did it).
I can hear the groans “that’s not natural…trees don’t do that…and that”
If you just look at the movement the tree already has (all natural by the way) what I’m doing is not out of character for this tree.
I’m just continuing the line.
Without further adieu…
There we go…
Now just a little detail wiring.
Looking down from the top:
By spiralling the branch I put the secondary branches where I needed them:
The red is the main branch and the turquoise is a secondary.
The before-
The after-
Now instead of 5 years before we get to this point we are there now.
It’ll go into a bonsai pot in January and I’ll have an update on it by the end of spring.
Now on to the shimpaku.
It’s some special cultivar. I got it from The Mighty Thor (look up Ryan Frye, Thor or, better yet, click on this YouTube video).
Not sure where he got it from.
What I know about it is the foliage has a bluish cast to it.
And you’ve probably guessed what I intend for it.
You’re right, raffia.
Now the next image is very controversial.
Indeed, I am wrapping the raffia using a one-handed clockwise technique.
Dogma teaches to always use a two-hand but left hand dominant anti-clockwise twist.
I realize my error and it won’t happen again.
When applying the raffia and you have a branch that you wish to keep, be aware that the branch junction is a weak spot.
Three (3!) heavy wires. Make sure they are three different colors or it’s just not very cute.
And notice that I don’t put them next to each other but I have them spaced evenly. This gives extra protection from breakage.
It will always break where the wire isn’t.
My trusty (rusty) branch bender.
This one I bend to the right, forward, back and up.
None of which shows up in the photograph.
Try these views:
In the spirit of full disclosure, I did crack the trunk here-
It should be ok. I’ll let you know.
Some more detail wiring.
The before:
And the after:
It’s a good start.
If it lives…..

6 thoughts

  1. Did these ever survive through for a follow up post? I’m searching with limited ‘internet age’ patience!

    As a side note that should be the front note, or for that matter a giant billboard in gold, Thanks for all your incredible content and your great, charismatic writing! I’ve learned countless things and smiled at least a tiny amount of the time…. 😉


    1. I sold the procumbens a while ago, it survived until then.
      The shimpaku I still have but haven’t done much with it.
      Thanks for the compliments, they mean a lot to me.


  2. Hi Adam,
    Wondering if you would use same raffia bending method on an upright ficus retusa. the trunk is thin enough but just past the flexible stage. Will the wet raffia wrap work on ficus retusa or Golden Gate/tiger bark for a hard bend? Thanks in advance,


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