Posts Tagged ‘Shimpaku’

Oyakata gave me a tree a while back to wire, style and make look nice. A mountain collected juniper that had already been re-potted and the front chosen some time ago. It was just a case of recreating structure, making pads and trying to make a clean look, whilst still a natural feeling.

The tree to start wasn’t looking in bad condition and was looking very natural but, in good condition for a wiring to make look good.

I started with normal shimpaku clean up, cleaning the foliage live vein, etc and then on to wiring.

This was the final result.


  I opened op the front to show more trunk, shari and live vein. Separated some of the bigger pads into smaller pads to give the tree more depth and better flow.

Another tree that I was given to work was a small cascade.


The tree was bought and repotted quickly a good year ago and wasn’t in great health at the time. One of my Sempai was watching Oyakata re-pot it and stated the was a good chance it my die. Since then the tree has grown in strength and made it through it all.

Oyakata asked me to wire it now it was in better health. It was a bit of a challenge has it had been changed from bunjin to kengai and structure had to be completely reset.


Overall I was pleased with result and its set it on a path of improvement but, still has a few years to really fill out and reach its potential.

A chuhin Shimpaku that has been here for a couple of years or so, finally got it’s first styling by myself.

The tree had been re-potted and cleaned up back when it first arrived but, hadn’t been touched apart from basic maintence since then. Another apprentice brought the tree to the work shop for maintence but, Oyakata asked me to wire it instead. The photo above was after I had removed all weak foliage and cleaned the live vein. 

I then proceeded to wire, setting new structure as the front was changed and finished with cleaning the Shari & lime sulphur. 


I really want the foliage to gain in size fill out more, so it’s more proportionate to the dead wood and also envelope around the Shari more so, as to break up the powerful Shari more than it is now. I tried my best to bring the foliage and the Shari together but, it’s the best I could do for now though.

Thanks for reading I hope you enjoyed seeing some of my work.

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A little while ago I was given this shimpaku/Chinese juniper to wire. Instructions were to do no major changes (like angle changes etc) as it was probably going for a quick resell at auction this month.

The main branches didn’t hardly needed wiring it was just a case of cleaning the pads out, wiring them and trimming back where needed.

This was the tree after work.

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I tried to style the tree with lot’s of small pads, making larger pads, Instead of just large pads because the tree had a bunjingi/literati feel to it and I thought this would help to enhance this. Otherwise I felt the pads might make the tree look a little heavy. This isn’t usually the way we do it here, normally we style most tree’s with larger pads. Larger pads have a tendency to make a tree look powerful, where as lots of small pads (as they do in my Oyakata’s apprenticeship nursery, Daiju-en) make a tree look a little more delicate and detailed. Really it comes down to taste and different nurseries have different ways of doing it. There are many small details like this that set nurseries and their tree’s apart.
I think it was ok to do, as nothing was said. One of my Senpai seemed to like it anyway and asked for a price, kind of made my day.

And finally yours truly for scale..

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I almost forgot.. The reason for the title.. Well I don’t know if it is just the cold, apprenticeship taking its toll, my vivid imagination or what but, it’s what I could see anyway…

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Thanks for reading.

This is a juniper that I was given a while ago to style, after I had removed the aluminium wire it had on it.

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The pile of wire which came off.

The pile of wire which came off.

The tree certainly looked better for it coming off and the reason for the title is that to me at the time, especially with the wire on, it looked like it had been in a car accident. Maybe due to the way it was stuffed into a vehicle on the way to an auction.

Looking closely at the tree it had a few nice features.

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Some dodgy carving on the back though, which needed to be fixed.

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I then set about cleaning the trunk and wiring the tree.
I slightly changed the front and I looked at raising the angle as middle of the section looked flat/straight to the pot level. The problem I found in doing this would create a loop on the second branch bringing it down. The second branch was in a good position as well, on the out side of a curve and a good natural position for a second branch. So, I opted to keep the current pot level and hide the section with the second branch solving the problem.

Here was the tree after I finished working on it.

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I made two pads out of the second branch to create a back branch, bent the apex to create more movement & compress it a little.
I tried to style the tree the way Oyakata generally likes his tree’s. Oyakata likes to style his tree’s with the main branch following the first trunk direction especially if there is a strong trunk movement. This wasn’t a problem with this tree as it naturally was like this. He also generally likes a strong/heavy main branch which I tried to do. Round underside of pads is also another thing we do here, a posed to the flat style. A lot is taste and depending which nursery you go you all manner of slight differences.

This is the tree after Oyakata’s corrections, an application of lime sulphur and steam bending the Jin to give it a little more movement.

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Oyakata removed the second branch and changed the pot level. He then explained why. The reason is that this tree has a bunjin/literati feel to it and the second branch was in too good of a position. Bunjin tree’s branch structure should be a little strange/un-uniform to compliment the style. This then solved the problem I had before. The main branch was also reduced to balance/lighten it out. Apart from that there were some minor alterations to compensate for the angle change.

Thanks for reading.

Free time

Posted: October 6, 2013 in Bonsai, Bonsai styling, Japan
Tags: , , ,

It’s amazing what a day off can get you into..

I had a day off the other day and I thought I’d take a closer look at a medium/chuhin sized Itoigawa Shimpaku/juniper that Oyakata had bought a while back at an auction. Oyakata had taken it with him to a customers house to try to sell but, came back with the tree so, I assumed that the customer didn’t buy it (I should remember that assumption is the mother of all **** up’s).
Oyakata came in as I was admiring the tree and I explained I was just having a closer look and expressed that I liked it. He then told me that it was a customers tree (that solved that). There was a little inside dieback and I was just cleaning it out a little, He then told me to clean it up tomorrow, cut back, remove the dieback and inner weak growth.
I was pleased I thought it would be fun to work on.

Here was the tree before setting to work.

Front

Front

Side

Side

Back

Back

Other side

Other side

I was just about finishing up when Oyakata breaks the news to me that the customer wants to put this tree in a local show called Meifu-ten. I then asked “will the tree need wiring before the exhibition?”. He looked at the tree and then went off for a short time. Then came back and told me to wire it when I’d finished. It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind but, it was nice that Oyakata set me the task.

Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo after I did my work (though I could have sworn that I did) I only have pictures of the finished tree after Oyakata’s corrections.

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I’ll try to explain the corrections that Oyakata made, though they were small. The main one was that some of the branches weren’t spread enough. The reason I did this was to make the tree look fuller, although it wasn’t needed.

Some of the branches looked more like this.
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When they should all look like this.
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A small branch was removed but, apart from that it was fine.

It will still need some prepping before but, I look forward to seeing it at the exhibition and I hope that the customer is pleased.

Thanks for reading.