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Posts from the ‘Shimpaku’ Category

Weekend at Eisei-en

It was a great weekend working with Bjorn and Conifer Group A (catchy name, right?). It was rainy off and on, and very pleasant for June in the South to work on trees outside. Here are a few shots of some junipers (and more) from around the nursery.

One of the three trees I brought to work on was this Shimpaku. It was originally styled in a long semi-cascade, which made the tree awkward in appearance and in situ. It was hard to water, and clearly hard to keep happy, based on the gradually-yellowing shoots our near the end of the long branch. Before the work, back in the winter:

And at Bjorn’s:

After removing the long extending branch:

And after wiring everything that remained:

A little shari was introduced on the trunk, and that will continue over time. I’ll also bring the apex down a little tighter toward the cascading branches.


Shimpaku Styling 6

Picking up where this post left off…

Since I killed off half of the tree, I knew the next repotting would require some time and removing lots of dead roots. And, since this would be an aggressive repotting, I wanted to have a lot of foliage to fuel growth following repotting. So now the tree is full, and it is time to repot. The present pot is about 18″ wide by 4.5″ deep. The new pot, ideally, will be a 14″ wide by 4″ deep round.

Before the work:

The top photo is the original front, and the bottom photo is a front I’m leaning toward. The joy of a round pot…the circle of uncertainty…means any front can be the front.

Ok, unpotted and no doubt there’s work to do. I’m counting on bare-rooting,

Clipping away the dead roots carefully, and making sure all of the fine feeder roots remain intact, I continued to remove all the old soil from under the trunk.

This took about 90 minutes, but I managed to get out all the old soil, even out the roots, and retain just about all the fine roots.

Seems like the new, somewhat smaller pot will work.

I used a rock under the base to help secure it. On the side with the live vein, where all the feeder roots are, I worked in some finer grain akadama to help retain moisture and encourage growth.

The finished product for now:

And watered in…

Later this spring, I’ll unwire it and trim it back in preparation for fall work.


Last weekend was the first session of Bjorn’s intensive course. I cannot remember the last time I spent three days working on trees, and it was good to have enough time to get into a groove again. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s hard to do bonsai in 30-minute increments when it’s anything more involved than removing wire or performing a quick trim.

Here are a few shots from around his nursery, Eisei-en near Nashville, TN. It is a tranquil place with lots of nice trees, mostly comprised of large, domestically collected junipers and pines, with plenty of other gems tucked in and around.

Japanese Beech:

One-seed juniper:

One-seed juniper:

Trident maple:


Trident maple:

Chojubai quince:

Trident maple:

One-seed juniper:

Massive One-seed junipers (that’s an 8′ high fence):

Scots Pine:

One-seed (or Rocky Mountain?) juniper:

Looking back toward the gate, workshop is on the right:

Trident maples:

Chinese Quince:

We discussed fall cleanup, some design aesthetics and horticulture, but mostly we worked on trees. Reps.


Bjorn and I have worked on this Kishu Shimpaku juniper together for several years now, culminating in an appearance in the 4th US National Bonsai Exhibition in 2016. It seemed fitting to bring it to his nursery for the next phase in its development; committing to a direction. It is pretty balanced left to right, but the trunk definitely has movement: in your eye, does it move left or right?

The main section of trunk suggests right, but overall I feel the foliage wants to move back to the left. Mainly because of how the live vein exits the soil, and how the branch structure suggests everything moves up and then sweeps back to the left. The first branch is on the right, and the trunk moving to the right could work, but then I think that movement fights with the base, and the whole tree would need to be taller and thinner to move right. And I have a different vision for the tree than a tall, right-moving juniper with what would be an S-curve trunk.

Here is the starting point.

First step was to remove weak, inner growth, and the spindly stuff that would likely die over the winter anyway. That’s my new friend Jesse in the background, a fellow student who is from Michigan and brand-new to Bonsai. Nothing like jumping in with both feet! He was very gracious and watched some of the Bama LSU game on Saturday. I didn’t realize he’d be in the next few shots in a row, hope he doesn’t mind…

Next step was to prune to create (or leave) a bifurcated branch structure. Word of the weekend.

Then wiring…for about 10 hours when you’re slow or rusty. But I got there!

And the “after” shot. We are committing to the foliage and movement of the tree to the left, so it will take a little time to grow into the look, but the branches are set, pads are defined, and plan is in place.

So, for fun, here are the results after each of the last 3 styling efforts.

2015, first full wiring since purchased:

2016, tidied up in preparation for the National Show:

And 2018, advancing the design by shifting the movement more to the left:

Next spring, the left side will be allowed to elongate, while the right side will be kept tighter. It will also be repotted, tilting the tree slightly more forward, and rotated just a bit counter-clockwise. Finally, we’ll address that scar in the middle live vein. That will be the topic for another post for sure.