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Friday, January 31, 2014

San Jose Juniper Styling

Today I'm going to work on an old San Jose Juniper that I traded someone some bonsai services for in  2011. When I first received it, it was in dire need of repotting and pruning. It had been at least 10 years since its last repotting. To top it all off it also had spider mites. But I knew there was a nice tree in there so I decided to make the trade.
I don't have any pictures from that period but it was treated for the mites, pruned and repotted into good bonsai soil. Then it was allowed to just grow mostly unchecked since then.
Here is the tree just prior to the start of this work. You can see the natural shari on the lower left part of the trunk.

Here it is from the other side-it is not so easy to see but there is also some nice deadwood on this side. The deadwood will become a major feature of the bonsai.

As you can see from the next shot a lot of the branching is straight as an arrow and about pencil thickness, this is going to have to be dealt with.

I cleaned up the deadwood a little and cut off and jinned one major branch that I knew would not be used. I created new shari where old branches had been cut and the sap had started to withdraw. I think this will help people see the trunk and live and dead wood better. I also lime sulphured the old and new deadwood to make it stand out a little. Here are some shoots of a couple possible fronts.

Because the branches were so old and brittle I had to use a lot of raffia in order to bend and place the branches without breaking them.

After wrapping and wiring the branching was able to be moved into appropriate places.
They were lowered and then held in place with guy wires.

After all the wiring and placing of branches excess foliage was trimmed and some of the secondary branches were put into place. 
Here is the result of this phase of the work. I think that we're well on the way to creating a really nice bonsai from this.
For the rest of this season the tree will be fertilized and allowed to grow out a little. Probably in late April or early May I'll do another slight trimming and wiring of some of the tertiary branching.
Thanks for reading my posts. I look forward to any comments, questions or suggestions.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Work on a large Hackberry

First of all I'd like to wish everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year filled with happy, healthy little trees.
Todays post is about the initial work on a large hackberry (Celtis sinensis) for a client.
This is a large tree that needs lots of work to become a bonsai.
Here it is before any work.

You can see that there is no refinement, long branches with no ramification and too many trunks.
The first step is to reduce the number of trunks and cut back all the branches in preparation to building a new more refined branch structure.
Here it is after the extra trunks are removed.

The next step is to start the work of reducing and disguising the large cuts left from the trunk removals. Here I've started to reduce the cuts and carve them so that they will either eventually heal over or be turned into a feature of the design by creating hollow trunks.
This is after the initial carving work. Back of tree.

Tentative front

 Now comes the fun part- repotting this monster. It is so heavy that we needed to use an engine hoist to lift it out of the pot and to work on the roots.

Here is the new pot sitting on the old pot. It's quite a bit smaller and a lot lighter.
The rootball before reduction.
And after the root work.
As you can see it has been reduced quite a bit. This tree had a very good compact root system with almost no heavy roots.
And here it is in it's new pot. This is the end of the work for now. This year will be all about  starting to develop a nicely ramified branch structure and refining the carving and large cuts.
Back of tree.
And the new front.

I hope that everyone enjoyed todays post. As always I welcome any comments.