Fall cleanup of an almost-shohin JBP

Almost shohin because it’s just about 9″ tall. This is a cutting-grown cultivar of Corkbark JBP called Hachi-Gen. It is 20 years old, container-grown it’s whole life. I’ve had it for over 10 years now, and here is how looked after I wired it last in late 2014:

It’s usually not good to leave wires on for 4 years, but this tree grows slowly, and isn’t in a lot of soil. I would have been wise to remove it last year, but just didn’t quite get to it…until today, October 2018…more than 4 years later:

And yes, it has been too long, as the wires were heavily embedded, and it took a couple hours to get them removed:

Fortunately, not much collateral damage. Here is a shot of the tree unwired:

Next up is pulling needles, and light pruning. Areas with 3-4 shoots were reduced to a pair of shoots:

With a brush pile like this:

You wouldn’t expect the tree to still look this full, but it will be healthier for it:

Next up, remove moss from the trunk…carefully with tweezers:

And the work is complete for the year. Next year, a repot into a drier soil mix; more pumice and larger grained akadama.

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Shimpaku Styling 5

This tree goes in fits and starts. I thought it had been a long time since it was updated, but it is here, and is a sprint through nearly 3 years of time, ending in April 2017. This first 2 shots below are July 2017 photos. The graft failed, unfortunately leaving the left vein supporting no foliage, meaning it was destined to dry up and wither, and with it, a very sinuous curving line moving along the left side of the tree. Bummer.

On a positive note, the back side had become an interesting option, and this angle isn’t quite as dependent on the second live vein:

When Bjorn visited in December, it was in the midst of 6″ of snow falling in Birmingham. So I moved the workshop trees into the shower to thaw and drain, and knew if anyone would understand bonsai trees draining in the guest shower, it was probably him!

I shared my idea of changing the front, but was talked out of it for now, because the base is so much wider on the original front. I also shared my disappointment with my efforts to do justice to this tree so far. I’d nearly killed it once, and lost the graft keeping the left side live vein alive, not to mention that my carving efforts were significantly less than Kimura-esque. Bjorn, being the optimist, assured me we’d make something that would make it in the Nationals one day.

And by the time we finished pruning and wiring it, I began to believe it:

Buoyed by the new direction, I decided to give my Foredom another chance on the deadwood. Stars aligned, and the results were much better.

The two biggest challenges to carving were to try and keep the left live vein’s movement visible in the carving, and to join the left Jin to the rest of the tree so it all looks like a single event caused the death of the left side, and it was all subjected to the same weathering effects of time. Later, with a diluted application of lime sulfur, the tones will even out, and the depth of the carving will be accentuated. When I found a line I liked, I tried to follow it along as far as the tree would allow, and then deepen it as much as the carving bits would allow. I used a tri-cut bit, a much smaller bur bit, and followed up with a brass wheel to knock all the fuzz off.

For January 2018, here it sits. It will need a smaller pot, but I’m going to take my time. Each time I’ve worked on this tree, it’s resulted in a significant setback, so I need to break that cycle. But I can live with this for another season, and let the branches start to thicken up and lengthen out. It needs to fill in some of the space between canopy and base, but that will come with another growing season…if I don’t jinx it!

Fast-forward a few months to June 2018, and the tree is growing well.

A little trimming back of some strong runners should encourage more back-budding. Still going slow…

Rinse and repeat a month later in August…

Still not 100% sure about the front, because this is interesting too…

Next spring, a new pot…probably a round one!

A shohin Shimpaku cleanup

This was air-layered about 4 years ago, and has been wired out for the last 2. It’s growing strong, and it’s time to get the wires off, prune to back a little, and clean up the dead wood.

Before:

Wires removed:

Pruned back, about 1/3 of the foliage removed. Sucker growth, strong tips, and weak growth was all removed:

Finally, trunks scrubbed up and deadwood treated with lime-sulfur:

Should be all set for the rest of the growing season. Pot? Shinobu.