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.
The shimpaku junipers that I use are notoriously slow to grow so instead of striking normal small cuttings I now strike quite a few long skinny shoots to get long skinny juniper ‘whips’.
I then wire the entire trunk
and bend the trunks into random twists and turns
You can see that the bending process reduces a significant 30 cm trunk into a tiny little 7 cm tree but I’m convinced that this will certainly produce far more dynamic bonsai. The problem for me is that this process takes time. After the initial bending these trees are allowed to grow freely again to set the bends and thicken the trunks. After just a month or so the bends have set and the wires can be removed. By the following year some of the shoots have extended and are again wired and bent to add to the trunk lines. Some shoots are allowed to grow freely as sacrifice branches to help thicken the trunks. These photos show one of the first batch of twisted shimpaku I grew.
Producing thicker trunks takes time. Even in the grow beds it can take 4 or 5 years to get trunks to 3 cm diameter so these twisted shimpaku will be in very short supply for quite a few years and, even then will only be available in limited numbers.