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Shimpaku Workshop Tree

I got this shimpaku for Christmas in 2008. It came from Brent at Evergreen.

Since I hadn’t spent much time with junipers, I decided to let it grow for a year, and get to know the tree.  Here is what it looked like after the ’09 growing season:

Ultimately, it went to a Kathy Shaner workshop in March ’10, to learn a little about their training in the process.  Here is a shot from the workshop:

Here is a photo toward the end of the 2010 growing season:

It looked pretty rough, and I didn’t really know where it was going.  Finally, using this photograph, I came up with a virtual concept of what it could become:

Recently, I had an opportunity to take this tree to another workshop with Kathy and we continued the work. Here is a quick update of what we did:

1. Checked to see if any wood was added around the ovals we carved last spring.
2. Widened some ovals and opened up a few new ones to start to establish some interesting live veins.
3. Removed most of the wires.
4. Removed some of the upper branches that were wired, carved, and shaped for later creating jin.
5. Pulled down the lower-left branch, splitting it so we can get good movement.
6. Thinned out the growth to allow light for some shoots that can become branches.

This year, it was slip-potted into a larger container, and the name of the game is to push growth. It is very different to work on a tree over time and not have it look presentable.

One great point Kathy made was that, over time, trees sustain trauma, maybe something major every 20 or 50 years; a lightening strike, snow/wind damage, a large branch falling out of the top. We simulate this on an accelerated timeline every year or two in bonsai work. What makes a tree interesting isn’t this trauma itself, but rather how the tree responds to the trauma.

So, those carved ovals visible in this tree aren’t the design goal, they are the simulated trauma. The design will be predicated on how the tree responds to these (and future) wounds. The response should be interesting, layered depths of dead wood, and dynamic, winding live veins climbing up the tree.

Here is a shot from today, after thinning out some of the runners.  The movement of the trunk is really becoming nice, and the profile is starting to take shape.

A photo of the trunk:

More deadwood is incorporated into the design, as the live portions are being chased back closer to the trunk.  I suspect some of the ovals will be connected over the next few years, creating a sinewy live vein, and some interesting layers of shari.

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