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Styling Junipers The traditional Japanese style Part 1. Rough material

October 19, 2013

I must say that this one might be a bit of a shocker. Never Had I imagined that junipers are styled like this in Japan, until I saw it, learned how to do it and styled many junipers this way.

Junipers go through several different stages of styling, that are very different in nature.Different parts of junipers are also subjected to different type of trimming

Pines in general are styled almost exactly as junipers, and get me right here, I am not talking of development and maintenance techniques. I am talking about first styling and wiring, branch positioning and pad formation.

The first stage will be when the cutting is small, and flexible. It is wired and twisted in order to create interesting trunk. The sooner you start the wiring process the more intricate curves you will be able to achieve. Twisting and sharp angle bends can only be achieved in very young material, so start early.  Wire is left to bite into the trunk so that when injured callus starts to heal, the shape created by the wire is set. On junipers wire is deliberately  left to bite a bit in the branches since without that they are hard to set. Depending on the age of the tree, wire can be left for 3-4 years. The older the tree is the slower it grows, it is harder to set, and the wire can be left much longer. Having some minor scars from the wire on junipers is not a problem. They heal within few month.  Just remember if your wire has bitten in, wire next time in the opposite direction, or if not possible in some places, wire between the old wire scars. If it is your tree I would advise you to wire any future jin (sacrifice branch)  in order to make it interesting.

Junipers are easily grown from tip cuttings.  To  achieve a good shohin material you will need 5-6 years of growing it in a small pot. In the ground for larger junipers add another 1-2 years, and you will have perfect juniper.

Have a look at this post to get an idea how to twist/bend juniper for the first time.

Ones the tree is wired, it is left to grow, in a small pot for shohin or ground for larger bonsai, free without any intervention until the wire is removed, and the shape is set.Some time might require a second wiring, if the shape is not satisfactory. All branches that will be gin eventually are wired and twisted.  Some time shari is created during this time.

Here are some examples on what to aim for when twisting/bending junipers for the first time.

More on that later.

Larger junipers are grown in the ground and the ones for shohin and mame  in small pots. Ones the wire is removed the tree is again left to grow until the desired thickness of the trunk is achieved.

Before the tree is sold most of the branches are remover, and a stumps left for future jin. Manysmall (mame and shohin) junipers  at this point have one-two or some time three branches, that are situated at the top of the trunk. Occasionally you will find a branch on the side that can be used as one of the first primary branches. That is sufficient for the initial styling of the tree. If there are more branches than that they will most probably be removed, and usually only 3 left, unless there are some in perfect positions, and thickness that can be used in the future design. A juniper can be styled even with one “branch”  only, which is actually the apex that is bend to create a primary branch.

Here are some examples how Junipers are sold in Japan.  This particular juniper I bought in Takahashi engei bonsai wholesale nursery.

The same juniper from the top

Notice how many branches are cut? Even the largest top branch I am going to cut  and jin. I might leave the small branch at the base, but that I will have to decide on later, after the tree has recovered from the “cultural” shock. He he he!  Notice how the lower branches are all jinned? This juniper at least has 3-4 branches which I am not sure yet if I will keep all .

On this juniper, which is most probably an yamadori, some initial branch selection is done.

Some yamadori and field grown junipers (front left) On this field grown juniper the shari is also created. ( more on shari creation later)

I bought this juniper also.

If in very large junipers branches are needed on a specific place, they are grafted. But shohin, mame chuhin and trees around 30-40 cm can be styled with very few branches. Normally grafting is reserved for changing the foliage of junipers that have nice trunk and poor type of foliage. or for large yamadori without lower branches.

Here is an yamadori with poor foliage that is grafted with Itoigawa. Not sure of the variety of the original foliage, but it looks little bit like Tuja to me.If not it can be Scots juniper.

Here is a little Itoigawa juniper that still has its branches , since the trunk is in the process of thickening. Notice how small the container is. This juniper has been grown all its life in this little pot. I would not think it is older than 6 years.

Another small shohin size juniper with seriously twisted trunk, that can not be seen, due to the weeds. Notice how One of the lower branches is jin already.

A ROR Juniper Junipers are not suitable for ROR with roots high up a rock, since the roots get damaged by strong light. So mostly the trunk is is put adjusten to a rock and only small part of the roots is over the rock.

To be continued with branch selection and initial wiring of junipers. First styling.


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