Species Specific > Shimpaku Juniper Bonsai Discussion

An over pinched Itoigawa

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Adair M:

Wiring, while tedious, is the easy part. The thinning... That's another story!

There's two issues here. One is no selective pruning has been done in a decade. It's been in the hands of the collector for 8 years, and prior to that in quarantine for 3. So, there are zillions of branches. I'm wiring them all for now. The second issue is the foliage. Since its been sheared, all the current foliage is on weak stems. It's been sheared, and sheared, and sheared. Sure, it has back budded, back to a crotch. And budded again at the crotch. Over and over. Many of these have 10  or more weak little stems. And I'm trying to prune them back to the strongest two. Even then, lots of them "hang".  Especially on the lower branches.

And a third issue:  all those crotch buds all competed with each other for the sun. So they arranged themselves one on top of the other. When wired down, they align in a vertical alignment. So, I have to twist them to get any kind of side-by-side arrangement.

Well, I got this partly as a learning experience!  I got my money's worth on that part!

As we learned this weekend, if you need an extra set of hands, I'm not as far away as I thought I was.

This looks like its going to be a really fun project for you ...and equally as fun for us if you'll share it with us. 

Can you go through your thought process when it comes to thinning this tree?  Pictures preferred, but I get that's a lot of work. 

Adair M:
My thought as I was thinning?  I'm thinking, "Geez, how could this guy go 8 years without thinning this tree?"

Ok, sorry...  (I DID think that a lot!).

I'll see if I can find that overgrown tuft, now that I've thinned it. And photograph it.

Generally, I found it easier to thin the top of the tree than the bottom. The top is stronger, has almost all mature scale foliage. The bottom is really weak, with a lot of juvenile. The catch 22 is, it produced juvenile foliage because it's weak. So, if I prune it, it weakens it more!  So, I tried to thin out the hanging foliage and leave as much as I could on the bottom. I was a lot more aggressive on the top. It's really full up there (or I should say, it WAS full) so thinning will let a lot more sun inside, and stimulate the bottom of the tree. Also, pulling the branches down opened it up. You can now "see through" the tree.

Hopefully this will all help send the juvenile foliage away!

I'm almost finished wiring. Just a little left to do in the apex. Then, I'll set pads.

Owen Reich:
Where did the mud man go?!?!  Gotta create some asymmetry.

Adair M:
Steve Cratty kept the mudman!  He had a nail glued to his bottom to keep him in place. The mudman used to hang out on the backside of the tree, under an overhang of the rock.

If I were to show this at the NC Expo show, maybe I could stick a toy Bambi there. They'd like that there!


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