An open window into the comings and goings of students and their trees attending our regular weekend and midweek bonsai classes under the ever watchful eyes of John Hanby.
Classroom Corner – Two Juniper Squamata Meyerii
These two Junipers were recently brought into open workshops for advice on styling.
The first picture shows Roy’s Juniper shortly after being dug up and potted. Certainly in this picture it does not really fire you up into a state of eager anticipation of what might be to come.
The tree appears to be potted quite deeply and from this angle appears to have more than one trunk.
This second picture shows how the tree appeared when it was brought into the workshop. The tree has already come a long way and has had a first styling. It now has a more definite form and appears to be very healthy.
The spreading branches are now too wide for this size of trunk and the foliage mass needs to be made more compact (I’m good at compact!!!). The jin to the lower left side of the tree is too long and is a distraction that needs to be reduced or removed.
I made a selection of branches and after some diligent pruning Roy was left to wire all the branches that were left.
The wired branches were then positioned and the result is shown in the final two pictures. The tree is now much more clearly defined with foliage that is in keeping with the character of the trunk. The tree has good taper and nice movement enhanced by the shari and deadwood.
The foliage clouds will be thinned out and refined further once the tree produces new growth and shows good recovery from the styling operation.
The potential which may have been lacking in the first picture is now clearly evident for everyone to see.
The second Meyerii was a larger tree and one that Jonathan purchased from our nursery. We acquired this tree in the autumn of 2011 one year after it had been lifted from the field and potted up. The first picture shows how it looked when Jonathan bought the tree and attended an open workshop.
The first job was to clean up the trunk removing all the flaky bark and expose the smooth beautiful rich brown colouring below. Past pruning snags were turned into deadwood.
You can clearly see how strong and vigorous this tree is by the length of the new shoots emanating from the apex. This tree is ideal for styling and should recover quickly from the work to be carried out.
The next job was to decide on the line of the trunk and make a selection of branches. You can see in the next picture that there was a problem with the apex in that we had three branches to choose from. This was making the top of the tree far too big. We only needed one branch but it was important to choose the correct one.
After removing all branches we considered unnecessary it was then left to Jonathan to wire all the remaining branches.
Some pruning snags were also made into jins.
Jonathan positioned the branches himself and did a really excellent job. I just made one or two slight fine tuning adjustments.
The classic hanging branch to the front breaks up the trunk and creates hidden interest. Once the tree has settled down it will become clearer where the strong live veins are and where a shari can be safely extended up the trunk linking the deadwood jins. With the added interest of the shari it may then become more appropriate to remove the hanging branch…….but we are in no hurry…….
The raw material has been totally transformed and created a really exciting tree with excellent prospects.
Squamata Meyerii is often underrated as bonsai material and yet it offers that wonderful contrast associated with Junipers………..strong blue/green foliage, excellent deadwood that bleaches perfect white, and the most beautiful natural reddy/brown bark.
I hope these two excellent examples might inspire you to give this tree another chance…..