Pruning and wiring Shimpaku, along with a repot

I’ve had this one for almost 10 years now. The last couple years have resulted in a committed design direction.

After first major work in December 2018:

It was repotted in 2019, with significant root work, and allowed to grow freely for a year.

And after detail wiring during the COVID lockdown in April 2020:

And of course, it was all dressed up with nowhere to go…so I let it go again for the rest of the year.

Unwired and lightly pruned, deadwood scrubbed, and a fresh coat of diluted lime sulfur applied:

In February 2021, it was time to continue the work. Removing heavy areas of foliage, to establish some balance is first; by removing weak growth, crotch growth, strong runners, and downward facing growth.

Leaving an alternating shoot pattern, like this:

Then wire is applied. I try to start with heavier wire to establish a path, passing wires just behind a branch, like this:

Allowing the second wire to go along the blue line:

Like this:

And repeating, working outward until all branches are wired.

Then they’re fanned out into pads:

Shots along the way:

Looking at the results so far, a few areas need to be addressed:

Specifically these areas:

I also tightened up several branches with some guy wires, and ended up here:

Next up, a new pot. Here are two that would work.

On the left is a soft-corners Yamaaki, a pot I really like and have struggled to use. On the right is an 8-sided antique Chinese replica by Keizan or Yozan…can’t remember. Anyway, it’s one I bought for this tree years ago, so let’s see if it fits, after 10 years of reducing the roots down through 3 different pots.

Yep. A few chopsticks were necessary to stabilize it in the pot.

New soil worked in, a coarse blend of lava, pumice, and akadama.

Watered in, and ready for the year. The pot is a bit wide…or substantial-looking for the sparse top. By mid summer, it should be nicely balanced, as the tree fills out and widens:

Nice night shot a few days later:

Shohin Shimpaku summer cleanup

Before:

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.

What would you do?

I posted the most recent installment of my Shimpaku from Evergreen Gardenworks last week. I fully acknowledge that this tree could have ended up far different than it did; better or worse. I struggle with the fact that it could have been better under someone else’s design, but accept where it is now, and work to make the best bonsai possible from what it is.

Usually a blog is a one-way communication: me to many, although the comments are insightful. Here are a few from last week’s post on the Shimpaku:

“It’s good to see how you turn raw material into something brilliant – that’s something I really struggle with!

“A beautiful tree that reflects the effort and skill put into it over the years. Beautiful deadwood

“I don’t understand the need for stripping a perfectly good trunk and creating deadwood like it would be a path to perfection.”

And this got me thinking, since we’re all on lockdown anyway…can I reverse the communication flow, and offer up some photos of my history with this tree and ask you the readers, at what point would you have done something differently? Make a virt and email it to me through my website, or make a comment. Let’s see how this goes.

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020