This is the tale of an old tree with a little slice of English bonsai history. It was originally one of the larger trees that belonged to Anne Swinton and as she devoted more time to smaller trees it was one of several trees that found its way to Mendip Bonsai studio. I was having good success with shimpaku junipers at the time so decided to see what could be done with the tree.
from the first pic you can see a probable 10 years of free growth in a pot with a wild mop of bare branches, the foliage all grouped on the ends and no real clues to the trees original style.
I know john had fed the tree a bit so I continued using nureku every 6 weeks and wired the mass of branches into a gentle dome with a few lower foliage pads. I wanted to gauge and build on the trees strength so foliage reduction was kept to a minimum as the treee needs as much greenery as possible to grow strong.
The tree responded over the next 2 years with inner buds appearing in the branch forks so i repotted it and pruned off some of the leggy bits, back to the new inner growth. One more year in the current form and I felt the tree was fully regained in strength so a smaller crown design was wired in, some lower branches were removed and the tree allowed another year to adjust to the styling work.
This year I started looking with a critical eye at the tree and knew the current crown was much too big for the slender trunk so there were 2 options - reduce the crown by at least 50% or fatten the trunk...........I considered splitting the trunk up the middle and adding a wedge of deadwood but after batting ideas around at the St mawgan nursery we decided to use the tree as a tanuki whip !
Out in the japanese garden a log was chopped out of a very large juniper with a chain saw and I set off home with a 2ft long chunk of juniper wood. I needed some speedy carving tools so bought a mad attachment for an angle grinder from Graham at Kaizen - a termite. This soon filled the garage (and house!!) with a lot of sawdust - what an amazing fun bit of kit!
I took the now smaller bit of juniper log into work, and spent an hour sand blasting it, lime sulpharing it etc and the next day screwed it to the juniper ! now we have a trunk to work with so the top will be allowed to grow a bit to swell the live vein, a long back branch will be air layered and added to the other side of the dead wood and the tree will be a nice tanuki I think.
pic to follow tomorrow
Tree: Juniper chinensis shimpaku - 100+years old
origin - Japan
source - Mendip bonsai studio