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:

Shimpaku styling 7

It’s been a little over a year since an update on this tree. If you’re new to the blog, here is last year’s installment, showing a significant repot:

Since then, I’ve mostly let it grow, with a little thinning, over the last 12 months.

June 2019:

Late-winter 2020, note the bronze color:

Now, let’s get to the work; this during our coronavirus stay at home…

Thin out the foliage by removing the thin, weak interior growth, and “crotch” growth, so that tufts of foliage emerge in alternating points along each branch

Then begin wiring:

If you want a stroll down memory lane…

From Brent Walston, owner of Evergreen Gardenworks: “Did I give you the provenance on this one? This is one of two Shimpaku in one gallon containers that I purchased from a local bonsai dealer (Roscoe Morris, now deceased) from Treehouse Nursery. One has been in a bonsai pot the whole time and is still quite small. This monster has been let to grow and would have been even bigger if I had repotted it more often. It has been in my care since the early 80’s , probably ’81 or ’82.”

Still at Evergreen Gardenworks’ nursery in fall 2011, this photo shows the tree from the back:

Boxed up and arrived in a Bama in December 2011:

Potted, this shows the present front:

2013 during the growing season, still no work done, this also shows the present front:

A virt I did showing the eventual plan. This was in 2013, 7 years ago…not too far off.

2016, failed graft attempt:

December 2017 after 2nd round of work with Bjorn:

Growing all year in 2018:

Late 2019:

And for fun, a true “before-after”

Did it earn a name yet? Maybe the Covid Cobra…?

Shohin Japanese Maple winter pruning and wiring

I have had this little clump for about 3 years. The mature bark is starting to form, and it has a good base starting to show that “turtle back” look. During the growing season, it has been pinched, and during the winter it has been pruned, but I have not wired it yet. As it started the winter:

Close- up of the base and bark forming:

Some heavy areas to address, largest trunk:

Pruning at the red line:

Back left trunk:

Pruning at the red line:

Pruned back:


Placed and evaluated:

Adjustments needed:

Finished for now:

Transitions are softer now, and the tree has some balance from side to side. It will be repotted again in spring, and the work for 2020 will include building some ramification, and addressing the apex of the tallest trunk. Pot, Koyo.