Kishu or Shimpaku?

Over the years, this post discussing differences among Itoigawa, Kishu, and Shimpaku junipers has consistently one of the highest-viewed of the nearly 350 posts over the 5-year history of the blog.  Kishu and Shimpaku are tricky to tell apart by their foliage, so here is a refresher…

Kishu left, Shimpaku right.  

Kishu is plumper in texture, tighter in growth pattern, and brighter green in color.

Shimpaku is slightly thinner in texture, “ropier” growth pattern, and paler green in color.

Here is another look at the runners.  Kishu first:

Shimpaku next:


Itoigawa cleanup

Well, I’d been putting off this chore far too long.  After repotting it into a slightly undersized container, I wanted it to regain some strength before unwiring and pruning it back, but it was a balancing act between pushing it too far and just right.  June 11 was the day, carefully unwired the buried wires, and pruned it back.


Wires digging in are carefully removed with wire cutters and thumbnails to minimize the bark pulling away from the wood:

And finally, after this much is removed:

It should be set for the rest of the growing season, and ready to be wired in the winter:

Cleaning up a mossy situation 

This YouTube video is the critique Kathy Shaner offered on my Japanese Black Pine.  Interesting pearls of wisdom.

In my defense, I had no intention of showing this tree this year, until about 14 hours before I had to bring it in…and I was out of moss, out of stands, out of time, and out of season to candle-cut…but we needed trees, and our show only had 2 other JBPs.

Excuses aside, I took her advice and spent part of Memorial Day cleaning moss off the trunks of several JBPs.  As she suggested, slowly and meticulously, with tweezers and dental picks, nearly all the moss was removed. 

In case you’re a pot freak, this is a Nakawatari; antique Chinese, from the ShouYouKouSei kiln, probably 130 years old.

By the time this is published, it will be 3 weeks to candle-cutting time!  Remember, find your area’s first frost date, and count back 100 days,  that’s when you candle-cut JBP in the summer.





And after:

This is a fat ‘Arakawa’, same drill:

And a corkbark cultivar, ‘Taihei’:

This one had gotten really out of control, with this “Irish moss” that is aggressive and has a big root system.  For this tree, it’s best to scrape off the top 3/4″ of soil to get the moss roots out, and replace the soil with fresh.  This is called Soji, and helps not only with removing moss, but also when the soil becomes difficult for water to drain through.

Pretty soon, this Taihei will be worked and wired…gently.  Here is a shot from 2011, and one 6 years later.  Slow going:

The bark is developing, but the tree hasn’t advanced much.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!  And happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there!