Changing Clothes, RMJ to Itoigawa 2020 update part 1

This project is 6 years in the making, 8 if you go all the way back to when I collected the tree in 2013. I grafted it with itoigawa in 2014, and finally had the confidence to separate it in March of 2020.

Original post:

First update:

And now we’re current. I repotted the tree after 4 years.

I had previously removed the field soil from the front half of the tree, and the roots were growing well into the bonsai soil, so I didn’t disturb that area too much:

And now it was time to remove the remaining field soil from the back half of the tree:

Notice the difference in condition? Doing half at a time keeps the relatively recently collected tree strong.

Now it’s in all bonsai soil. I changed the planting angle just a little in preparation for styling the tree to move to the right, and accentuate the live vein and movement of the base.

Next up, the graft. It’s had 6 years, and it’s clearly attached in places. It has grown well, and each year, I reduced the live vein connecting the Itoigawa to its original roots:

Time to cut ties…

For now, I’ll keep the other trunk’s graft attached. Although, it seems to have taken.

This will provide more styling options later.

So, here it is for now:

Shohin Shimpaku summer cleanup


Foliage cleaned up, undersides and dense areas only:

Soji, cleaning up the soil and adding a fresh top layer to get it through the rest of summer:

Work completed for now.

The pot is by Shinobu, an award-winning Shohin pot maker whose work is regularly featured at the Gafu-ten exhibition each winter in Japan. I think it’s a fantastic fit.

Incidentally, this composition is 5 years along from an air layer.

Itoigawa Shimpaku summer work

I last wired this one 2 years ago, and the wire was digging in. It had also gotten fairly dense, and as is the case, weak areas got weaker, and strong areas got stronger.

So this work was to remove the wires, and then trim the tree back to restore some balance.

Here is the tree before the work…bushy!

After unwiring, it really has a case of bed head.

And before pruning back:

Some detail of the cleanup, here’s what gets cut.

Crotch Growth
Dead stuff
Weak juvenile growth
Long runners

Starting with this:

Ending with this, branches ending in pairs of growth “tufts”:

This will make fall wiring much simpler!

Another branch example:

In all, about 1/3 of the foliage was removed, but most of it was inefficient, shaded out and weak.

What’s left has space in the sun, and good balance for even growth for the rest of the growing season. Here are some shots after the work:

Underside of the first left branch
Underside of the first right branch
Looking up into the tree, notice there is plenty of space for air and sunlight.
Overhead shot looking down over the tree. Good distribution.

One more shot a few days later, after foliage has had a chance to settle in again:

In the fall, the tree will be wired again, with less but similar thinning out. I’m still on the hunt for a good pot…