Posted: July 30, 2013 in Aichi-en tree's, Japan, Tree maintenance
Tags: ,

Just recently I was assigned this Tosho/needle juniper to trim and clean up.

Not the best photo but, it was on the floor to start with so I could reach the top.

Not the best photo but, it was on the floor to start with so I could reach the top.

This tree was originally bought by Oyakata’s grandfather and had very little foliage or branches. Oyakata said his grandfather bought it, his father grew it on and he styled it. So three generations in the making. Last year the tree became weak, most probably because the soil became too compact and the tree couldn’t get enough water. So the tree was re-potted this year to help regain vigor. If I could give one tip for keeping needle junipers it would be don’t treat them like a shimpaku. They love to be kept moist so, if you have a reasonably well-drained mix, keep on top of the watering. They are also weaker than other junipers and care needs to be taken in not overworking.
Needle juniper’s have a reputation of being pretty prickly but, on the pain scale this one is fairly tame although my finger tips are feeling a little tender at the moment.
I cut back to green or buds on old wood, defined pad lines where I could and cleaned out any old dead needles from the inside.
Here’s the tree after working on it.







Other side

Other side

It took me a good deal of time to do the whole tree. It is very dense (especially the top) and the tree is a meter tall/a monster.
There are some weak area’s/weak branches which had to be left and it could do with a little wire here and there but as they say here ‘shogunai’.
It was nice to work with a great tree with a long history here.

On the subject of Tosho my dear friend John Trott asked if I could find out any information on white stuff that forms on the trunks of needle juniper’s and Cryptomeria’s. I have seen it on several tree’s that have come in from Japan and we had speculated on what it might be before. Thinking that it could be a fungus or lime deposits.



It just so happened that when I looked up into the canopy of the big tree I spotted the same white stuff. Being that Oyakata was in the workshop having a smoke after lunch and I was there working through part my lunch break to get the tree done, I promptly asked. I asked if it was a fungus and he said no. The best answer he could give was moss but, what I believe he means is lichen. Apparently you only get it on old tree’s and it isn’t a problem. I think that is more of a revered thing, than a bad thing, showing age and most probably wouldn’t be taken off for an exhibition.
So there you go John, it can be removed by scrubbing with a brush according to Oyakata if you want to.

Thanks for reading.

  1. John Trott says:

    Very nice tree John. Feeding back very good information.
    Interesting info about the white deposits on old trees.
    Keep up the good work

  2. Mike Jones says:

    Reblogged this on Bonsai-Passion.

  3. bonsai eejit says:

    Reblogged this on Bonsai Eejit and commented:
    Great post John

  4. Thanks for the post! I love the tree. Just looking at the images I actually like the back as the front. Obviously some adjustments would need to be made but I think it gives the tree potential to have a new design in the future for the next generation that takes it over 🙂

  5. mac . bristol bonsai chairman says:

    Hi John, Trust you to get an easy one ! seriously , looks good . we are getting ready for our big show on the !8th August. Wish you were hear we need your trees. All the best.

  6. Lorna Osborne says:

    What a fabulous tree you must be thrilled with what you have managed to do with it.

    • Hi Lorna,

      Yes, very much so and thank you. It’s wonderful to be able to work with such material and I feel very privalidged.

      I hope the show’s are going well this year for you and Chris.

      Kind Regards,


      • lorna osborne says:

        been a good year apart from Hampton (disagreed with judges). otherwise been a good year. will be missing you at Malvern autumn!!!

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