The Unexpected

Posted: March 15, 2013 in My Trees
Tags: ,


Itoigawa Jun.1

This is an itoigawa juniper that I bought about two years ago. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of what it looked like when I first got it but, it looked very similar to these pictures here. The tree originally was a lot fuller and was a complete mushroom/dom of foliage. This was the tree after I had separated the branches and thinned the foliage, to open it up a bit. The tree was also re-potted and set on a slightly better angle.

After this work the tree was left to grow freely through the rest of the year.
The tree responded well and this autumn(fall) I had another look at the tree. There were a couple of things that bothered me.
The first was the straight section in the top third of the tree’s trunk. It was totally out of character with the bottom two-thirds of the trunk which, is nice and twisting with interesting shari. This is what attracted me to the tree originally.
The second was the branch and foliage structure. It was still too much of a dome, it offered no depth and a lack of character to the tree.

I decided to do some thing with the tree a few weeks ago and I took it to an evening class that I do with my mentor for a couple of hours each week in the winter and spring. I feel quite comfortable working on my tree’s these day’s but, I find the classes still good to do. There’s always something to learn, it’s good to set specific time to do bonsai (it can be tough to with a job and everything else), it’s always good to get a second opinion and you can get some different perspectives.


Here is the tree prior to being worked on. After I explained what I was bothering me about the tree and some discussion. I decided to remove some branches, extend the shari and split the wood in order to give the top third section enough flexibility to put a bend in it. An Iron bar was pushed into the soil to use as a anchor point, with a wedge to bend the trunk and create some more movement. This was the result.

2013-03-09 12.50.28

In order to create a more delicate and more natural look to the final image a new angle was used. Something like a long these lines.

2013-03-09 12.51.55

I saved the wiring to be done at a CBC meeting last weekend which I had fortunately been ask a long too. CBC is run by Mr Dan Barton (and his good wife Cea), it is a group of friends/study group/bonsai lovers that meet once a month to socialize and work on their tree’s. I’m not a full-blown member but, I’m very fortunate to be on the fill in list (if anyone can’t make it) and asked occasionally.
I had a great day, throughly enjoyed my self and managed to wire most of the tree but, not all of it. This was the result after the day.



Over the rest of this week I finished wiring and placing the branches.

The Front

The Front

The back

The back

The right side

The right side

The left side

The left side

To bring down a fairly thick branch near the top I used a controlled split using a narrow pull saw to make a cut above the top inside of the branch. Which made it a lot more flexible and in time this will heal over and wont even be noticeable.

017 (2)

I’m pleased with the result but, I pushed the tree quite hard doing the styling. Because of that I will not re-pot to change the angle and secondly the tree really doesn’t need re-potting either. It probably wont be re-potted for at least a couple of years and probably more like three to four. It is straight in the green house for now because winter seems to have come back this last week with frosts down to -5, wind chill of near -10 and now north, westerly winds (cold-ish) with rain. Come back gulf stream, please!

When I was doing the final adjustments to this tree I had a moment of clarity and something clicked. I think that it has changed/adjusted my approach to styling and I understand a little bit more. It’s strange how these things come to you, I guess it is all about progression and a tiny step towards raising the bar. I really didn’t see it coming and it was totally ‘unexpected’ with this tree.


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