Twisted Itoigawa restyle

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.

2015, apex still tall and peaked.
2018, apex rounded out. Branches were awkwardly located, so while the tree looks great from the front, rotating it kills the image pretty quickly.
2019, foliage tightening up, and the design is compacted.
2020, after being allowed to grow all year, then unwiring in the winter.
2021, Bjorn changed the planting angle, widened the Shari, and rewired. The result is a more refined look all the way around the tree.
In the spring, it will be repotted, likely into this old Shibikatsu.

Kiyozuru Itoigawa first styling

In March, I added a bend to this Kiyozuru Itoigawa. Here is the post showing the work: https://nebaribonsai.wordpress.com/2021/03/27/bending-with-rebar/ . The intent was to add a little upper-trunk movement to compliment the great wiggle in the lower trunk.

So in early November I checked the tree and saw the lower wire digging into the trunk slightly. This indicated it was time to remove it to reduce damage to the lower trunk.

A shot back to March before and after the bend:

And fast-forward through 7.5 months of uninhibited growth:

The tree grew well, and I probably should have checked this a little sooner.

The tubing was a little deceiving in what it was hiding…
The lower brace
Upper brace, where the bend was made.
Lower trunk, front, after wires removed.
Lower trunk, back, showing where the wire had dug in a little. Next year, this should disappear.
A shot of the bend achieved.

And after the hardware was removed. I can see changing the planting angle to get something more dramatic out of the tree.

I took this tree to Bjorn’s in mid-November to start working on it. Since the cultivar is rare, I wanted to leave long runners in place to use for cuttings in the spring…an added degree of difficulty. we agreed on this front:

Drew some Shari locations, and did a little light carving to add the appearance of movement. This is the front:

Back:

Wiring out shoots from the bottom up. I left most runners for cuttings, but did thin out heavy areas and hanging weak growth that wouldn’t make good cutting material.
A quick shot after the apex was finished.
Done for this year.

I’ll share thoughts on the growth characteristics of the Kiyozuru after 2 growing seasons in an upcoming post. What I can share so far is that I have been unsuccessful in getting any cuttings to survive, where Itoigawa cuttings are nearly automatic. This may contribute to the rarity of the cultivar.

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: