Sometimes I work on nursery trees, sometimes I work on client’s trees……and sometimes if I’ve been really good I get to work on my own trees. Hopefully these regular visits will give you an insight into what goes on behind closed doors……….
Studio Stories – Twisting shari….Semi-cascade Juniper Part Two
It’s now end of March/beginning of April so I decided to have a look at the roots with a view to repotting the tree.
I try to encourage my students to stop repotting trees on “automatic pilot”. Once a bonsai enthusiast has repotted a few trees he thinks he has it mastered and follows the same routine for every tree thereafter. He does not differentiate between different species of trees, old and young trees, weak and strong trees. He treats every rootball the same.
The tree has been in this pot for more than 6 years and on the face of it has a full healthy root system with lots of strong orange roots and white tips. However when we remove the base of the rootball and investigate the area below the trunk we find dry soil and a lot of dead/weak grey roots.
This is typical of this type of old Juniper imported from Japan. So we set about removing all the soil from this middle area right up to the surface.
You can see that the remaining compost in this area is largely made up of dust. At this stage the outer roots have not been disturbed. In this instance they are so solid that I decided to loosen some of them so that they can get into the new compost more easily. I am not going to bare root the tree completely. I will leave a strong core of roots to keep the tree going and help it recover from this traumatic experience.
The tree is then submerged in water to soak the remaining roots/soil to deal with any dry areas and also to remove any remaining loose soil particles. We use a mixture of equal parts akadama and bims (a German river gravel) with a medium size particle for the lower and middle areas of the rootball. This will encourage extensive fine rooting and help with drainage whilst the tree re-establishes itself. A normal size particle is used in the remaining upper area of the pot.
Looking over our pot room I managed to find a smaller round pot which I think is more subtle and complimentary to the curving twists and turns in the trunk.
In my original post I stated that some people don’t like this type of coiling shari because it looks a bit artificial or man-made. One of the above pictures recently appeared in my picture of the day gallery…….a really old desert tree…….100% natural shari……..and not a man in sight!!!