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


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

King Ghidorah…. -1   1 comment

Hmmm  Ghidorah is a three headed monster….hence -1.

I was able to finish up the first restyle in ten years. The original post can be read here. This is what I ended up with.






Posted December 15, 2014 by California Bonsai Art in Styling Trees

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California Juniper – Twin Trunk 2002   Leave a comment

This juniper was dug in Mojave in 2002. The tree had done very well producing new roots almost immediately. In and around 2004 the tree received its first wire. During this time the tree had its two apex jinned. A large shari was cut on the front of each trunk from a suitable jin on the trunk as an extension of a disaster some time in the past. Shortly after this period, with in a couple of years, I lost interest in the material. The shari’s of course looked too contrived, the jinned tops looked hokey and the whole thing was not to my liking. I could not realize my model for the tree. Maybe it was due to not enough branching, not enough foliage? I don’t know, but in the back yard it sat. For 10 years.

This is a cool shot of the mountain I got the tree from. This mountain is covered with juniper. Many are as large as a VW bus and larger, and some are as small as a bread box, but really hard to find.


This was the tree growing in the wild before digging. I knew it had a double trunk and was happy when I seen it.


As I began digging around the tree it was good to find some smaller roots at the soil surface. Roots like this can ensure 100% survival with good after care.


The root ball was prized up and out of the hole. A root ball like this with field soil will weigh close to 75 to 80 pounds due to the granite and clay.


The soil is knocked off the root ball and bare rooted. It is then packed with sopping wet long fiber moss and sealed in shrink-wrap.



The tree is planted into a wooden box I made before leaving for Mojave. It is planted in 3/8 black lava and sand.


In 2004 after some good growth I decided to prune it down. It was too tall and I decided to jin the tops of each trunk at this time.







I wanted to pull the top left trunk more to the right so added this fulcrum and a guy wire.





It’s Thanksgiving 2014,  ten years later, and time for a new direction. The tree is pulled from the weeds and cleaned up for some new work. This is one of those trees that is sitting around and not earning its keep. Everyday since 2004 I water the tree, “did you look for a job today”? “Are you still looking for a job?” Nothing, the tree just sits there, taking my water and using my fertilizer and has given nothing back…wait, maybe it has.

The tree has rewarded me with long shoots to play with. It is very healthy and all adult foliage. There are many cones beginning to set on the tips of many of the branches.


Lots of the old wire is left on the tree from past work. A mixture of copper and aluminum still in the tree. Some had swelled over it but most was still OK.




In 2004 this was the apex of the tree and there was nothing green above it. Now everthing green is above the jin.




The real work starts be sawing off the branches not needed. The trunks are long and thin and tall. There is only one course for this tree…Literati


Now I am down to about as far as I wish to take it. I feel now that this is the new bones of the tree and anything I do will have to be made with whats left.


Here are couple close-ups of each canopy. These are what I will wire and style.




Here are some closeups of the shari’s. They are really nice now. Ten years have done them good. The live veins have swollen and made them look pretty natural. All of the shaggy bark has been removed exposing the red layers below. During removal of the bark I found black widows up the wazoo, beetles of some kind, potato bugs, earwigs and some slugs down low near the soil.






This is the work station all set up.


Wire, tools, and a chair…which I never sat in.


I started putting on the wire before I got tired and started running out of time. My wife called for me to mash the potatoes, now I know its time to eat. Screw bonsai I got a turkey to eat.



I will continue this saga on Saturday when I can resume my wire for the day……

Edit: I was not able to work on the tree right away and had to come back to it over the weekend and into Monday. I did finish it and this is what the first styling done in ten years brought forth.





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