Itoigawa repot

This itoigawa was grown out for years in a 2-gallon can, and I’ve been reducing the root mass since 2011.  This will be its 3rd bonsai pot, and maybe I’ve pushed it too far…? 

Current, production-grade Yamaaki; 11×3″

Last of the nursery soil is removed:

Tight squeeze…

10 1/4″ wide and 1 7/8″ deep Hokido container from a tokoname potter that fired pots from about 1979-1990.


With the canopy thinned out in a few weeks, it should appear less top-heavy.

Shimpaku Styling 4

Trouble!
This shot from 12/14 shows a happy, full and healthy tree.

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In March 2015, I made a decision to rotate everything, by swapping the pines (which faced East in front of the fence) and the junipers (which faced West out in the open). The fence created a very nice, calm environment in which spider mites flourished, quickly, and out of my sight. I was actually planning to repot the tree, and when I moved it, and got a look at the back, here was what I saw:

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More trouble! I looked at the amount of Malathion to add to a 1-gallon sprayer, dumped that amount into my 1.5 quart sprayer (oops) and began to nuke the critters…along with 75% of the already-compromised foliage.

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So, when I realized the error, and the damage was done, it was time to prune back to what was left. Tough day.

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Fortunately, it lived. By August, it was sending out some runners. So while I lost a year, I didn’t lose the tree.

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Since I killed off the left half of the tree over the last few years, and greatly reduced the foliage (by pruning…and poisoning), I knew the roots would be a similar story, and so in March 2016, it was time to repot…for the first time since I received it in 2011.

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Most important was to get under the left half of the tree and get rid of the roots that were no longer attached to the live upper area, since they were dead or dying, and I didn’t want to have that going on in the pot:

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Next repotting, I’ll replace the rest of the soil with a coarser, inorganic mix. For now, this is enough. I do want the tree to keep recovering, and any more would be pushing the limit, I’m afraid.

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I also shifted the planting angle slightly to the right, making the left Jin slightly more upright. Next time, I will continue to orient that Jin more upright until it’s more than 45 degrees from parallel to the soil

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Along with the repot, I cleaned out sucker growth in the crotches of branches, worked the Jin and Shari with hand tools and a wire brush, unwired what Bjorn and I applied two years ago, and repositioned the primary branches to get them prepared for the final design.

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Not much to look at yet, but with two good growing seasons, it could be ready for a detail wiring job.

Shimpaku Styling 3

This one has been in my garden since 12/11. It’s had a little work done:
2013: First pruning, and a virt, then some Jin & Shari work.
I took it to a workshop with Bjorn I 2014, and we discussed a vision and took a few steps toward the vision.

First, I expanded the Shari on the right trunk. I wanted to make a twist, but it would have girdled the lower right branch, so I had to take it down the center. This makes the left live vein very important to the movement:

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Problem is, the two left branches the live vein supports aren’t important to the design. If I took them out, the left live vein would eventually die and I’d be left with a very dead left side. For now, I’m keeping the left two branches, and ultimately will need to force or graft some low growth on one of those 2 left branches, which will be hidden and not part of the design, but will keep the left vein alive.

Next, we hollowed out the upper right trunk and bent it down to compact the design.

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Using a copper wire on the inside of the hollow to keep it from collapsing on itself:

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We wrapped it with raffia, along with the lower right branch; which kind of emerges from the front of the trunk. I wanted to move it down and out to the right side:

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We used #4 copper, but to serve more as anchor points for guy wire:

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The big bent apex isn’t very convincing, but also isn’t part of the design. It will be shortened and a new apex will be developed from one of the shoots at the top of the bend. Note the upright branch section that is being kept alive to keep the left vein healthy.

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After a few months, the tree was moving right along. Then in early 2015, it ran into a big problem.