California Juniper 046

This tree starts in 2004 on a trip to Mojave with Harry Hirao. The rolling hills of the valley are literally covered with juniper. Every green thing in the picture is a juniper.

I spotted the tree I wished to dig and scraped the area clean. Dug a good circle around and was able to excavate a good root mass with the tree.

It had a very compact root mass and no long roots pointing down.

The first few trees I dug with Harry I was using burlap and taking huge root balls, by now I was using sphagnum and plastic wrap and would later bare root the entire tree and wrap in sphagnum and plastic.

The juniper bark is ver shaggy and has lots of old dead wood.

Upon arriving home a box for it was quickly built and the tree planted out. The rope was retained to keep the tree stable and upright in the wind.

The trunk at the base where the two trunks emerge is about 3.5 inches across.

Later in march I inserted a stick between the two leaders in an effort to bring them closer together and more in unison. Also the top of the left leader was jinned.

This is later in April of 2004 and the tree is recovering quite well.

Now ten years have passed since it was dug and the canopy is growing well and we have juniper runners, important signs that the tree is ready for work to be done. A few years earlier the shari had been applied to both trunks in an effort to add interest.

In this view the shari is visible.

During this phase of the tree I was pretty sure it would be some sort of Literati tree just not sure how I was going to do that. Many lower branches were pruned away and left short as stubs for jins.

Close up of the shari by now and the live part beginning to roll around the dead wood accentuating it.

Most of what I set out to remove is done by now and it is time for wire and shaping into something.

Work is begun on the right trunk and then to move on to the left. Much of this initial wire work is done with copper for holding.

With branch setting and the design wired out it was replanted into a first ceramic pot.

All done for now.

Now we come to 2019 and time for more work. The last time the tree was worked on was five years ago and interest and taste can change dramatically during that many years.

The tree is moved to a table in the yard for serious study. I have never been happy with the way the two trunks move away from each other, with neither complimenting the other. They need to some how communicate.

The right leader is very powerful and at almost three inches at the area it comes off the base is impressive. It is tapering and a good tree on it’s own.

Looking at the left trunk from the back due to foliage we see that the left trunk has much more movement than the right and though smaller it seems more in proportion to it’s height.

On the back of the left trunk is a stub and scar and a shari the runs down the back due to the removal of that branch. Always keep in mind that when removing a branch on a side or chopping a trunk with no branches on a side, that the trunk will almost always die on that side. While not debilitating to the tree, it does limit the tree for branches there and will always be dead. No grafting there.

The decision is made to remove the right trunk. My decision was based on height, size of trunk, movement of trunk and location of possible branches to make a tree around the dead areas, while incorporating them into the design.

Hot summer day looking into the sun and one large trunk removed.

The stub left is about 2.75 inches across at the saw cut. Solid wood with no rot inside.

I begin removing bark with a graver and reduce the wood there.

With the tree out of the pot and looking at it’s original planting angle, I see that an angle change is the only way to get the look I want.

More adjusting and trying to get just the right look on the trunk as it emerges in the pot.

The removal of soil will make it much easier to see what I am doing and after removal it will be much easier to sit the tree upright at the new planting angle.

I step back and look at it. Walk all around the tree and really study it. It is likely to be here for a long time so getting this angle correct now is essential.

Being satisfied with the planting position, I get to work on the branches. They are thinned and dead and crappy things removed. Many at this point are removed that will offer nothing to the end feel.

Trimming and thinning consumes the better part of the morning. Lots of work here.

The outline of the tree in my mind is starting to emerge now. What I had in my mind is finding it’s way out.

This area will be a problem. After careful consideration there is nothing left to do but remove or jin this area. Bending was not an option as it began to crack when I got jiggy with it.

Lunch time, and going over ideas in my mind..”what am I going to do with this or that”.

I takes the better part of the day to get all the prep work done before I ever get to wire. That goes on well into the evening.

More branches are wired and now I can see the image very clearly.

The next day final tweaking is done and a backdrop placed behind for some final shots.

Back with shari cleaned up.

Posted December 8, 2019 by California Bonsai Art

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