This juniper started out as an upright variety with prickly bluish foliage. It spent a few years in the grow beds to get a thicker trunk and was transferred to a polystyrene fruit box for training. Continue reading
The first junipers I put into the grow beds were just allowed to grow freely. The result was stiff, straight branches that provided little inspiration, or opportunity, to create the sort of dynamic ‘wild’ junipers we see in Japanese literature.
About the same time Joe, nichigobonsai was talking about his experiences working in a Japanese bonsai nursery where they wired and bent large numbers of small junipers to start another batch of shohin twisted junipers. His comments showed me that junipers need to be treated differently to the other species I grow in order to produce inspirational bonsai stock. Continue reading
This trident maple featured in this post was grown from 3 separate seedlings. They were planted close and held together until the separate trunks grafted themselves into a single trunk at the base. Multi trunk bonsai are not particularly common because every extra trunk adds complexity and the possibility of faults that would make the whole tree unattractive. Continue reading
Some time ago I promised to talk about how to find a bonsai in the mess of a field grown pine. A reader from South Australia has recently reminded me of this so here are a couple of pics for you Mark.
The first shows the tree before pruning. Nice nebari and a reasonably mature trunk but branches everywhere.
The second pic shows the same tree after reduction pruning. Although it is a long way from finished it now has enhanced trunk movement and taper and should develop into a nice smaller black pine. Time will tell whether the jin remains and most of the thinner, low branches will be removed eventually, in the meantime they feed the tree.
December is summer at Shibui Bonsai and summer means working on pines.
I treat pines differently depending on what stage they are up to. Pines in ‘DEVELOPMENT’ are allowed to grow for a full season and sometimes 2 so the trunks thicken then they get cut back hard to get new shoots along the trunk and branches. Most of you will be aware that pines are reluctant to bud from bare wood so it is important NOT to let them get to the stage of having bare branches. You can cut branches back to anywhere there are needles but if you cut below the lowest needles, leaving bare wood it is likely that branch will die back.
Today I pruned a Japanese Red pine that is in the final stages of ‘DEVELOPMENT’.
First step is to cut back any long shoots that will not be useful in the final design. Remember to leave some needles on any branches you want to use.
The lowest branch is too low to be useful so it was removed. Rather than cut it right off I have jinned it but the jin might be completely removed later if it does not suit the ultimate design.
This front has nice trunk movement but there is a shortage of branches on the left side.
There is a slight reverse taper in the trunk just near the top of the rock when viewed from front 2.
The shoots are still too long to be useful. I need to shorten them as much as possible at this stage to get more shoots as close as possible to the base of branches so all remaining shoots are cut back to leave just a few pairs of needles on each. New shoots should develop from the base of the remaining needles.
Finally, wire the remaining branches to make best use of any shoots and sub branching that are already present.
Now it is up to the tree to produce new buds and continue to grow. Next year it should be time to move to ‘MAINTENANCE’ pruning to fill out the branches with foliage pads.
When winter comes the leaves fall from deciduous trees making it much easier to assess the structure and ramification of your bonsai. The branches of a good bonsai should have plenty of sub branches and shoots to make it look like a real tree but if the shoots are a tangled mess the tree does not look its best and inner shoots will gradually die out.
How you prune will depend on the stage your bonsai is at but there are a few points that will help develop and maintain really good branches. Continue reading
It is June at Shibui Bonsai and that means winter. We have had a few light frosts so far this season but this morning was probably the coldest yet.
Here in Australia we do not have to contend with really severe cold that growers in some other areas get. My cold hardy trees stay outside without any protection all winter without any ill effects, in fact I think it might even be good for them. Low temperatures help to induce some trees to flower better and I hope that some of the pests and diseases will also be killed during cold weather. My ficus, which are NOT cold hardy, live in the unheated poly igloo which provides enough protection to get them through the winter here. Continue reading
Nebari is the Japanese word meaning the lowest part of the trunk and the visible part of the roots. In Japanese bonsai good nebari is deemed a very important aspect of the tree. Continue reading
We regularly hear of special pruning techniques for bonsai but before rushing off to try it out you should ask: What is the aim of this technique? And, possibly more importantly: At what stage in the life of my bonsai should I use this technique?
As I see it, a bonsai goes through a number of phases in its life.
First phase is ‘Growth’.
Second phase I call ‘Development’.
Then as the tree is close to ‘finished’ it goes into ‘Maintenance’ phase
Each of these phases have different aims and require different techniques to bring about the desired outcomes. Continue reading