This Itoigawa came from Chikugo-en, via Bjorn in 2014. I started styling it shortly after, and here are a few shots through the years.
This tree was wired after the leaves fell, late November 2020
By the second pruning in late spring 2021, it was time to remove wires.
And in mid-summer, it was time to get a look at what was going on under all that foliage.
During explosive growth, whorls and strong shoots can develop, which aren’t useful to the design of the tree. I left the long shoots in case one was necessary as a sacrifice branch, but most of the leaves were removed so I could prune back the growth to evenly-sized transitions and pairs of shoots at each terminal.
Exactly 3 weeks later, here is how the tree has responded. The leaves are slightly larger, and the internodes on some shoots are longer.
So the tree was lightly pruned, removing long shoots back to the first internode, and some of the larger leaves were removed.
And then it was returned to the bench to continue growing out.
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:
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: