Archive for the ‘Styling Trees’ Category

Juniper Winter Work   5 comments

I have worked on many shimpaku and other species juniper over the winter. Many were restyled and re-potted.

Mas Ishii Shimpaku

This first tree is a tree I purchased in 2002. It had been a very beautiful tree but I managed to ruin it over the years. It has escaped death numerous times from spider mite and pinching misfortunes. This is the tree in 2005 after escaping death twice.

Another few years and more rattyness.

A few more years and even less green left.

Left to grow for a few years to get strong and now it may be ready for a restyle….at least with whats left.

Restyled and repotted in a glazed Bunzan.

George Muranaka prostrata.

This tree was purchased in Nov. of 2014. It was left to grow for a couple years and then a first styling was begun.

Cleaned up and put into a first pot.

part of the canopy would be removed and jinned entirely.

Re grow and then style whats left.

George Muranaka Shimpaku

I purchased this tree from George around 2006. Once again it suffered from spider mite and my lack of awareness on how to take good care of the species.

Left to grow and a re style and then a repot. Looks like this now and is growing quite well.

Benny Kim (Kim’s Bonsai) procumbens.

The tree is on the left and purchased in 2002. It had a good trunk about two inches across.

Lots of jins on this one and some carving.

A first styling

Starting to look pretty good.

A new direction for this one. It had started to slump really bad due to the roots giving up on one side. Time to turn it upright.

Done…for now.

Steve DaSilva Procumbens.

These were struck as small plants and wired and twisted up. Planted in a field for a few years and dug up in 2015.

I would use the stock as a demo at the Fresno Home and Garden show in 2016

As it sits today.

Ed Clark Shimapku

This tree came by way of Ed Clark from Bonsai Northwest in Washington State. I kept it for a year making sure it was good for a repot in 2017.

Ready for some work.

It was removed from its growing container and combed out. Root structure was fairly small like most junipers but was rather one sided. I wnted to plant it into a signature Begei pot I had and felt that once planted here it could stay for a while. The one sided root meant it was planted well off center but will be fixed later when new roots go and allow for more diligent root pruning.

Now for the style part.

There is a large looping jin that comes over the top of the tree. The shoot I wish to be the apex is in front of that jin. I need to get it behind.

So…with some praying and bending and pulling I ease the jin around the shoot.

Now I am happy with the position of everything and can start the details.

More pruning and removing everything I don’t want. That should mean I have only the things I do want. Good in theory and poor in practise….

After some wire and manipulation I am able to coex a pretty decent tree out of the aftermath. Next year I will concentrate on managing shoot strength and how to treat possible shari on the trunk….or not!

Mas Ishii Shimpaku

I purchased this tree from Gary Ishii in 2004. Like all my shimpaku I battled the spider mites with fury. Mostly they seem to win but never kill the tree but ruin it for many years till successive cut backs get rid of grey and yellow foliage.

This style took place in 2010 after the tree had recovered for many years. It was planted into a Sarah Rayner shallow glazed bunjin pot.

This winter the tree underwent another re style and pot change. This time into a heavily patinanted Bunjin Begei.

….then the styling

Two Trident maples get new pots.   4 comments

This trident was a purchase from Ian Price of Lone Pine in 2009 at the GSBF convention in Anaheim.001







Signature Yamafusa pot purchased for the tree four years ago. Needed all four years to get it into the pot.dsc_0031


This trident maple was purchased from Steve DaSilva in 2013. It was dug from his field.0003







This Japanese bag pot was purchased from Kora Daleger back from a recent trip to Japan. It has had many root cut backs to get it into this pot.dsc_00361


Cork Elm Reconfiguration   7 comments

This elm has been written about here before. I will gloss over the past details and just show a few progression shots for clarity.

This was the stump as dug from the tree farm ( Steve DaSilva ) in Feb. of 2013. Over the next few years the branches were styled and given some shape. Fast growing meant cutting in of the wire many times and some scarring can be seen giving some character to the branches.001



I decided that the tree was about as far as I could take it as it was. I would either have to layer the tree reserving the top portion as a good Moyogi tree and then work on the bottom and utilize that over a number of years. Or, turn it into a sort of Bunjin tree because of its long trunk with special branching near the top.

I thought the Bunjin style may be worth the effort so most of the branches on the lower half were removed.dsc_000100011

I applied about 8 guy wires to the tree in an effort to pull down the branches to get the necessary effect of an older looking tree. The tree has its short comings as far as a bunjin styled tree. First the trunk is quite large. It is not easily seen in the photo but is nearly three inches across at the base. About half way up, the tree had been chopped for a direction change and some necessary taper in the trunk. What it did was build shoulders on the chop. This gives the impression of two cylinders on top of each other. While the top third shows much more taper due to the fact that I was able to control the growth in a container rather than in the ground.dsc_00110001

A picture of the tree during its naked X-rated photo shoot!dsc_00120001



This bark was removed from some places to get the necessary taper that would improve the overall look of the trunk.dsc_0003

This large lump will have to be worked on to smooth out the bump.dsc_0004

These old scars and the new ones as well will need some work to make them a part of the feeling of the tree.dsc_0005


Sunday morning Jan. 1st, 2017dsc_0007

I began by carving some interest into all the old stubs. Some were carved and some just smoothed.dsc_0008




I had three choices for Literati pots to choose from. The two shallow ones are from Japan and the other is a local potted.dsc_00012

There are no feet on the pot and it will sit directly on the wire.dsc_0012

I just cut a piece of screen to fill the entire bottom and allow the ties wires to do the holding in place of the screen.dsc_0011

After pruning and root pruning the tree was tied into it’s new pot.dsc_0013

For the guy wires I use a 24 gauge steel wire that is anodized black. I thread that thru 3/32 shrink tube for protection on the branch. It’s all very small and┬ábarely visible.dsc_0015

The guy wires are attached to small 1/4 inch brass screw eyes that I thread in along areas not readily seen from the front.dsc_0014

The final result.  So far reception has been OK but still not Bunjin. People still feel the trunk is too big. When seen in person that feeling is not


Posted January 1, 2017 by California Bonsai Art in Styling Trees

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One Tridents Brave Journey   5 comments


This trident maple was purchased from Ian Price of Lone Pine Gardens in 2010 for $400.00. I had not spent this much money for a trident before and frankly had bought much better for much less. This tree seemed to have something I found very interesting in the trunk line which I thought I could highlight and improve so I bought it. The trunk is about 3 inches across at the base and it has lots of flare under the soil to improve and expose in the future. At this point the tree is only about 15 inches tall.



After reaching home from the convention I set out to achieve my future plan. Some preliminary chops were set out and options for the line were studied.



In January of 2011 I noticed while uncovering the base of the tree that part of the roots were missing on one side of the trunk. The bark was removed and hormone applied and covered with cut paste.



Chops were made and now I was committed to the plan. The chops were sealed and left to bud.


This poor Charlie Brown tree ( as my wife calls them ) is taken back to bare bones. It was pretty tough to cut off all that ramification which was probably 10 or more years old.



Approach grafts were added after the grow out year. I wasn’t satisfied with how the tree was budding and decided that grafting would speed things up by a few years.



By the winter of the following year a good branch structure was developing. A long growing season and lots of fertilizer and water helps things grow faster. Pruning along the way is a must and keeping up is a weekly chore.


The tree in leaf is looking nice now. The tree is developing some character and the wounds are healing and better bark is developing. The trunk is now a full 1/4 inch larger across than when I started and that is pretty good in a sawed down 5 gallon nursery can.


The wound I made for some ground layer roots just bridged over and no roots. The scar can be seen albeit faintly.



The Fall of 2013 is showing a much improved canopy of branches and ramification. Still need lots of work on the apex area.



The Spring view is shaping up. The tree has now gone thru two seasons of hedging for shape.



March of 2015 and the structure of the tree is really well defined now. Cleaning and detailing scars is ongoing and a slow process in a small pot with continual pruning.


By June of 2015 the tree is really nice now and the canopy is well defined and tight.



The 2016 season of repotting will put the tree into its first bonsai pot. It has been 6 years of growing and refining to get to this point. This inexpensive white training pot will suffice until 2018 when it will go into its final show pot. Some of the flare can now be seen and there is more to come. The nebari is better lower and that too will show better later. The scar from the layer attempt is on the very lower right edge of the tree and the bark shows much more red. It is completely healed over and is of no cause for concern.


I selected this tree for an entry into the newly formed reemergence of the local Kazari Competition from the now gone Clark Center for Japanese Art.


This accent composition would accompany the entry.


This Japanese scroll would also accompany the display.



Some pictures from the Kazari. This tree has already experienced a lot in its short life under my hand. It will be interesting to see what 6 more years might bring.














Posted May 5, 2016 by California Bonsai Art in Styling Trees

Working on the Elm Root Cuttings.   1 comment

Elms were allowed to grow out and then they received the first wire this week. All I have done so far is prune out the leaders for taper and chosen which branches will be retained and grown on. A group for an upright part of the crown and then the cascadeing part which will be kept rather short.








Posted April 21, 2016 by California Bonsai Art in Styling Trees

Update on the Urban Pyracantha   3 comments

I work on this tree about every 6 months. It seems it takes about that much time for the branches to gain some girth and make good sound decisions on which ones to keep and where to prune back to. Pyracanthas are not so much a tree that will develop any kind of twiggy ramification and is more like building green images with leaves. These green images are mounds of leaves which give the indication of a well ramified branch. Pyracantha’s are in a constant state of pinching and pruning noting that pinching in this case is definately with scissors. Thorns are long and will get you many time during a session. The tree are fast growing, respond well to pot culture and are pretty tough. They do like moist soil and even an hour off regular watering will show droopy and limp ends on branches. Water will perk them up in 15 minutes.

As dug 2013003

Fall 2013


Spring 2014


Today before trimming


After trimming, wire and sonme carvng on the left trunk.



Posted April 26, 2015 by California Bonsai Art in Styling Trees

Ten years since last repot ~ Ghidorah -1   Leave a comment

Its been ten years since I put this Ca. juniper in the huge mica pot. I bought the pot many years ago, probably about 20 when mica pots were very cheap. I think I paid like 12.00 for this one. It is about 20 inches across and 5 inches deep. It worked well for an olive I dug and subsequently killed and so I put the large juniper in it. There it stayed for 10 years until today.

The new pot which I purchased at the local bonsai nursery, NeeHai, was available and I purchase local whenever I can. It is very nice to have a local nursery like this to buy dry goods for bonsai. I would be lost without it. The new pot is about the same size. Maybe just a tad smaller in diameter.

The big plastic pot!


The tree is out of the plastic pot first time in ten years.


Teasing out the roots. This took some time since the tree had grown a ton of roots over the last ten years. It was very healthy being grown in 3/16 lava and sand. This thing grew very hard in the soil. Much like what it is acustom to in the wild.


The tree all potted up. Probably not a finish pot, but it will look better on the stand that then the mica pot did. Now all I can do is water fertilize prune and hope the summer is not too hard on the new growth till it gets used to this pot. Over 80 percent of the rootball is intact and all I did was free the outer 20 perccent for a backfill of new soil. These Ca. junipers love to grow all confined in the pot and actually do better when root bound and compact. To free up the ball totaly is just so unnecessary and holds the tree back for years.


Posted February 14, 2015 by California Bonsai Art in Styling Trees

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