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Monday, October 15, 2012

Before and after

Most of the work that is included in this post was meant to be it's own post. Sometimes though it's hard to remember to stop and take photo's of the whole process. These were mostly in that category. So even though I can't share the whole process with you I think you'll enjoy the before and after shots.

The first few trees belong to clients.
 First up is an old Foemina Juniper that hasn't seen a scissors in a long time.  There was no longer any definition or separation in the branching, it looked like three mounds of foliage.

After a couple of hours of pruning, sticking my fingers and wiring I was able to rework the structure of the tree. A little drastic but necessary in this case.

Next is an old Kishu Shimpaku grafted onto California Juniper. It also hadn't been touched in quite some time and had formed pompoms in the branching. Kind of silly looking if you ask me. This owner insisted on only minor changes so I did the best I could.

I cut off the existing left hand pompom apex then lightly pruned and wired the tree. The trimming and wiring created separation in the foliage pads, better defining the branch structure. Then a little cleaning of the deadwood and live veins to finish the job. 

Next up is a monster of a tree. It took four men to move this one. It's a Eugenia aggregata- Cherry of the Rio Grande Apparently at one time this tree was part of the Kennedy family bonsai collection. This one needed a major haircut and wiring.

The result after a bunch of hours over two days of trimming and wiring.

The rest of the trees that follow belong to me.

This one is a variety of Chinese Juniper in the cascade style. It was first styled about 10 years ago and it is time to rework it. The foliage has gotten too dense and was throwing off the proportions of the tree. It no longer looks like a tree struggling to survive on the side of a cliff somewhere.
 Following a late night session of pruning and wiring the bonsai is re-born.
Here we have a California Juniper. The goal with this one is to lower the apex and to lighten up the branch structure. The first back branch is lower than the first branch and it's making the tree look to busy.
 I cut off and jinned the apex and created a new apex by lifting a side branch and wiring it into place. I also removed the first back branch and gave the tree a good haircut.

Finally , my prized California Juniper that I want to put in the CA. Bonsai Society show in March. Now it's time to do a little refinement trimming and wiring. 

On this one I wired just about every single twig. About 6 weeks before the exhibit I'll remove the wire and place moss on the surface of the pot.

Well I hope that you enjoyed these before and after examples. As always I welcome any comments, questions or suggestions.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Live oak styled boxwood

Hello all. Today's post is going to show the initial styling of an old nursery boxwood to resemble a Live Oak. I was inspired by a thread started on the Internet Bonsai Club  (( about styling boxwoods to look like live oaks. In that thread the poster was referring to Southern Live Oaks but here in California we have many oaks of our own and it is one of these, the Coast Live Oak that I had in mind . Southern Live Oaks are similar looking but bigger than our native oaks. Oaks are very long lived trees and there are numerous examples that are hundreds of years old. Here in southern CA they are very tough trees often surviving wild fires. They tend to grow wider then tall and often have wide spreading rambling branching which suits our material perfectly. There are also very often deadwood and hollows in them.
Boxwood is a very good candidate for bonsai. They are easy to grow and are readily available both in nurseries and in the urban landscape. They are rarely bothered by insects or disease and can be used for all sizes of bonsai. They respond very well to regular watering and fertilizing and aren't to picky about the soil they are grown in. It's probably one of the most common hedging materials in this country. They can be a bit tricky to wire older branches but do lend themselves to the clip and grow technique for styling. It's relatively easy to find large old specimens especially from construction sites or homeowners redoing their gardens.

Here is the tree we'll be working on today. It's 12-15 year old nursery stock with a great nebari and nicely aged bark. As you can see there are plenty of branches to chose from for our design. The roots spread out very nicely all around the trunk and the bark has the texture and character that only time can provide.
One thing that I found a little boring was how straight the lower trunk was, so to help make it more interesting and to help disguise where a large branch was cut I decided to create a shari and to hollow the trunk a little. The wood of boxwoods is very hard and dense and lends it self to deadwood. I started by scraping the bark from the trunk in the area I wanted the shari in.

I then added a little texture to the trunk.
I decided that I wanted it to be a little more dramatic and started to hollow the trunk.
This is the initial work on the deadwood for now. At a later date I'll completely hollow the trunk and add more detail to the shari.
I then removed all branches that I knew I wouldn't use in the design and thinned out the remaining branches. Then I started applying wire to every branch on the tree.

As I wired I pulled the branches down and placed them so that they all received the sun and none were directly over the one below it. I also put some movement into the branches though this was a little difficult since the older branches are really hard to put much movement in them.

I think I've captured the essence of a Coast Live Oak with this tree. Foliage masses will be created by the clip and grow method. It's pretty easy to develop foliage on boxwoods by only allowing growth were you need it. Any growth on the trunk, in the crotches of branches, etc. should be removed as soon as possible.
This coming spring I'll do the root work and get it into it's first bonsai pot. In a couple of years I envision this in a shallow oval pot.
 As always I welcome any and all comments. Thanks for reading.