The top of one of my shimpaku junipers got more and more pale over the past month or so. I was pretty sure there was nothing I could do to halt this. Once a juniper starts to change colour like this it is way too late to reverse the problem so I just watched and waited to see what would happen.
Eventually it became obvious that the entire top of the tree was dying.
When something like this happens there’s no point throwing a tantrum. Nothing can reverse death. It is time to look at what I still have and what can be done to move forward.
Closer examination show that the lower branches are still healthy and growing well.
Even closer examination of the trunk reveals a hidden dead part. It is probably the result of damage from previous trunk bending but is hidden under bark so went unnoticed.
That dead patch just happens to be in the centre of the live part I have retained when making the shari on the trunk. Last time I widened the shari I have unknowingly removed the last live part connecting the lower trunk to the upper part. Of course the tree cannot live without a direct connection between roots and foliage for sap transport so the section of tree above the damaged part has slowly died.
What to do now?
I can now see 2 positives from this change. The dead part of the trunk has very nice random bends and twists and could make a really good jin. The remaining live part of the tree is now short enough to qualify for a shohin sized tree.
First step is to strip the dead foliage and bark from the dead part of the trunk.
So far so good. I may not keep all of that jin but it is an option for future styling.
The remaining tree now appears quite wide because of the reduction in height. The remaining branches will need to be shortened and/or relocated to fit in with the new size. I can see a couple of possible options but will continue to consider this tree’s restyling for a few weeks before making further changes.