So, my plan was to clean up, pull needles, prune, and wire this tree so it would be ready to tweak when Bjorn visited in December. This tree has been all my work since it’s initial styling with a buddy in 2007, and I thought it would be a good time to take the tree from the best I could do with it, to the best I could do with it…with Bjorn.
So here it is, Before:
What did we do?
Guy wires, exaggerating the downward angle of the branches, including the upper right, to reduce the separation between the first layer and second layer. Subtle, but nice.
Balance each tuft of foliage so they’re the same size and mass.
Evenly distribute each tuft so they’re equidistant.
Create subtle separation of layers within primary branches.
Rearrange the position of each tertiary branch so they fan outward, and then together, overlapping on or maybe two tufts from the branch behind into the branch in front. (Photo)
Round out the apex
Still to do: let the left upper section elongate.
Keep the first left branch shorter.
Replace branches at obtuse angles with branches at acute angles.
This tree is the subject of my book, a pictorial cause-effect book showing how to develop a JBP Bonsai. This represents its 10th year of training as a bonsai, after purchasing it from Brussel’s in 2007 for $350. It was candles cut later than normal this summer to make the second flush of needles shorter. Once the growing season was finished, (new needles set firmly in their fasicles) it was time to thin out needles, prune, and wire. In mid-November:
Needles pulled, and lightly pruned over Thanksgiving:
Wiring the fine branches, starting at the bottom…
And working my way up…
To the top…
This is the Arakawa variety of JBP. Not a Nishiki cultivar, but a rough barked variety. The bark is nice and rough, but so far, rather flaky and not yet persistent. That’s ok, the bark will improve as the tree is refined. I chose a front and completed the first styling in March 2016:
and took it to a Kathy Shaner workshop in March 2017:
I started with cleaning out old needles, and reducing each shoot to a pair of buds and 10-12 pairs of needles:
Getting it into an easy-to-wire state:
Which I did, and Kathy adjusted:
And here is the end result for now:
Notice the trunk has been tilted to the right a bit? I started by excavating the left side to confirm the base would look good at this angle. With it confirmed, I repotted it the following weekend:
I broke down the left side of the root ball first:
And enough from the back and front to accommodate the change in planting position:
Then it was allowed to grow until mid summer: