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:


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.

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


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:


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



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.

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


Losing Trees: Pyracantha Problems

This tree was collected in 2005, from a very large and very old hedge. It came out in 3 chunks, this was the middle-sized chunk. I had to use a chainsaw to separate diggable (is that a word? You know what I mean) portions. The left side of this one was sawed under, and I’d been trying for years to get it to root. It issues a few then, kind of quits. See the cut, and the attempted roots?

The scar is where I removed a branch ten years ago, which obviously never callused over, and began to rot. Additionally, a few years ago, they trunk split, at the front, forcing me to do a little carving. I think that sets up the subject of today’s post. I’m afraid I’m losing the tree…after a Best of Show at the 2015 Alabama Bonsai Society Show, an appearance at the Carolina Bonsai Expo…and acceptance into the 2016 US National show in NY.

Leaves turn yellow at and around the veins, then the whole branch dies.


I lost big branches on the left trunk, forcing a Trumplike combover for the Carolina Expo last year. This spring, the primary branch on the left trunk started weak and got worse. Kathy Shaner visited my garden in May and suggested I wrap the branch and the side of the trunk to keep it from drying. Worth a try, as I’d rather not have to completely restyle the tree from one of my favorite styles (twin trunk) into something more static. So in Mid May, I found an ugly old hand towel (I assumed it wouldn’t be missed), which blended in surprisingly well, and wrapped the branch and side of the trunk. Here is where we started:







It must have been too far gone, because by mid-June, the lower left branch was dead.



So I removed the dead branches and the wrap.

And pruned the lower-right branch to balance the left side. I still don’t know what’s wrong, but the necrosis has stopped since June, so we’ll see. I have decided to let the tree do what it’s going to do; and I’ll respond. For now, I’ll just let it grow and try to keep the aphids away.

The dieback continued, and it looked like this by mid-September:


And I grew tired of watching it suffer, so I removed everything that was dead/dying:


Then pruned the remaining growth back hard in an attempt to shock the tree into budding back.

It went to a back bench…where it gets more sun and less attention. It’s a tree that grows anytime the temperature is above freezing, so it has a good 2 months left to go. We’ll see.  The right side of the tree remains very strong in Mid-November, so a good redesign is hopeful.  Maybe something like this

So, with Alabama completely dominating Miss State 44-3 in the 3rd, I decided to get started on the plan.  11/12:

The result:

And a little drilling for drainage and to round out the flat cut a bit:

Next up, a little pruning and wiring…

Deadwood study

Interesting to consider how deadwood appears in different species. Ever looked closely at it?
Some areas of Japanese white pine wood rots easily, and comes off in long strings, often leaving a matrix of the inner-most core remnants of branches behind:

Ponderosa pines show slivers, flakes, and scales. From TGT Bonsai:

Japanese black pine tends not to carry much deadwood. I presume this is because it rots and heals over fairly quickly. Here is an uncommon example, lifted from Jonas’Bonsai Tonight photos of the REBS 31st show:


Needle junipers have knobby burl-like deadwood, indicative of its spur-like growth pattern (from Peter Tea’s blog):

Shimpaku and other scale junipers tend to show the grain. When carving, we can accentuate the existing grain for a rather natural look:


Yew shows relatively less grain, but will show recesses where the live vein redirects over time to create canoe-shaped channels:


It’s good to examine different species’ natural characteristics and traits when carving deadwood on their containerized counterparts! Happy carving.