How to Restore a Chinese Juniper Bonsai to Its Glory

General Information About The Juniper Bonsai Tree

This is a very special and stunning Chinese Juniper Bonsai. This is one of the kisu junipers and we used to import these by the hundreds and this gentleman bought this I think from us, 20 or 25 years ago and he’s brought it to us this summer because he’s going away for quite a few weeks, so he wants us to take care of it and because he bought it from us. So many years ago, i offered to do a very light trim to the tree.

Identify Your Juniper Species

As you can see, this tree is in very healthy condition, but it’s rather overgrown and windswept. It’s not how a juniper should look like it’s quite a massive tree. The trunk is at least two inches or more at the base, and the branches are roughly in the correct place.

The leader has got a bit confused, but apart from that, it’s a nice tree with good styling, as i said, it’s mainly healthy, but the front of the tree has now altered a bit because he was looking at the tree like this. You can’t really see the front and, with the tree as it is, i would prefer to keep this as the front and restart it for him slightly like this, i’m not going to do a lot of restarting and training because that’s not the remit.

Juniper Bonsai Care

He only wants us to take care of it, but i did say that i will do a little bit of pruning of the trunk for him because he’s obviously only pinched the ends or trim the ends, but he’s done nothing else. So here we go.

There are quite a few dead branches here like that one you see, because the canopy is so dense. The inside doesn’t get like so there’s quite a lot of die back of the minor branches. Things like that, you see they’re all dying, so you’ve got to get rid of that, there’s no point making gins and some of those low ones, also a lot of deaths so we’ll give it a general cleanup.

So these branches there, it’s all dead – we’ve got to get them out. So there’s quite a lot of dead in there. So just cleaning off the dead is the thing we should start doing before. We even look to rewire.

So what am i doing next? So this poor trunk has never been cleaned up, so i’m just running the wire brush through and you see that lovely red texture of the bark is beginning to come by the way i’m just filming on my own.

I don’t have the luxury of a camera assistant. So, let’s make the best of everything all my videos are done: ad-lib they’re, not practice or rehearsed. I don’t believe in doing that. What you see is what you get just honest, plain and simple stuff: no sleight of hand, no tricks, just honest, simple work.

Are Juniper Bonsai Good For Beginners

So those of you who have got junipers and have never brushed the bark just a bit of brushing you see how lovely the bark comes up. This lovely brownish, pink color. So this is what i’m going to do throughout the tree.

Bought the trunk and the branches make it look nice and new, and the object is to show the trunk rather than hide it. If you got something nice to show, why hide it as they say in the bible, you know it’s no good having a candle and hiding it under bushel.

We should show it to the best effect. So let me explain to you what i’ve done so far. I’Ve taken out quite a few twigs and branches. Quite a few means quite a few, and if you notice this pad here, this pan is fairly flat.

This i have done by wiring it. You can see the wires i’ve put on to wire the thing whole thing flat like so, and then, hopefully you will get foliage covering this part, so that is how i’ve wired that pad now this has not been pruned or wired.

You see the difference. The rest of it is just a big ball. You don’t want that. We need to have space between branches. So that’s what we’re going to do with this part and that part and looking at the back as well, there’s a very low branch which i don’t feel somehow we need it’s really in the wrong position.

Types of Juniper for Bonsai

In fact, this tree has two possible fronts. This is also a possible front, so i can look at it this way the formal upright. I don’t know how the owner has viewed this tree. Sometimes these people don’t uh, identify any specific front or back, which always creates a problem for me, because unless the owner, what knows what they want? I cannot satisfy their desires as to the appropriate design for the tree, but i think he’s got to leave it to me and leave it for me to judge so i’m going to even attempt making this side as a possible front and then see how it goes.

I don’t want to remove everything. I want it to have a low spreading branch and if he likes, we can then cut it off. But basically the tree is a very nice tree. I might have to take a tough decision and cut off the lower branch, because this branch is really in the way.

We don’t need it. We don’t need it probably i’ll, do it for him, so i’m continuing to clean the bark. I think in the 20 years that this gentleman has had it, i don’t think the bark has been cleaned that often so it’s it’s due for a good clean.

All around come close. You can see how lovely and red that park is. This is the beauty of the juniper. The bark is really nice. You can clean it, so the original informal, upright shape was shaped in japan by the grower.

So i think this gentleman may have been using the other side as the front for this. This is a better side and i’ll just remind you what i’ve done so far. He was looking at this all the time as the front like that, but i’ve taken the few small branches out, and this is a possible front viewing like this.

If you come around this way, you see the s shaped like this. This is possible front, but when i turn the tree around, this is a nice leading chute leader and if i look at it like this, this is also a possible front.

But if i use this as the front, if you go into the tree at this angle, can you see this sort of angle now this branch is hiding the trunk. So can you see now by removing this? You see the trunk better.

Wired Trained Juniper Bonsai

So let me show you, the famous back trick: keep the camera focused there, so if in doubt we always do what we call the bank trick so that you can see that, is it better with or without you got to ask yourself you’re like going to the Operations with or without that is which – and this is without, i don’t think you have to be a great artist to say what you prefer.

I think these are cleaner lines. What a lot of people are afraid of doing, especially in bonus eyes, they are free to cut. I made a very major decision to cut something, because this is growing so well, it’s helping to thicken the trunk.

So why cut it? But the beauty of the tree is there look at it without that branch there you see how beautiful the tree is. All that lovely chunk can be seen. So i think i’m going to take this decision because for 20 25 years nothing has ever been done.

I will take the decision for him and we will improve the tree no end, but rather than just uh cut it. You know, like a pruning exercise, cleanly i’m going to leave some stubs to make driftwood. So that’s what i cut off now.

How to Fix It: Overgrown Chinese Juniper Bonsai

You can see the trunk see how beautiful the trunk is and before i do anything more, i’m going to try and make some beautiful driftwood here with this at the front, i can do that so making driftwood we make a partial cut and then rip the bark.

So this is what i’m going to do, so we make a sloping cut and then we tear the wood. We tear the wood rather than just cut it. We tear it like so so you roll the wood back. So you show the texture of the wood, rather than just have a clean cut, we’re going to have a torn cut, t-o-r and torn cut, and the gin plus comes into its own.

When you see how it’s used like this, we’re just using it to peel the bark off and it’s tearing the wood, then you can use all sorts of little hand, carving tools, electric dremel, carving tools, and then you can refine the cut.

So you’ve added a lot of character to the tree by doing driftwood, make it look much older, unlike human beings, where we forever yearn to be young with bonsai, we yearn to be old completely different, but in real life i think there’s no shame to be old.

In fact, as you get older, you get more wisdom, so it’s only, i think, the modern age where beauty and youth is given so much importance, but it bonsais. The other way around which it should be age, is beautiful.

So this is just something that i have worked out for myself. I’M sure many people have also worked out, so we’re going to emphasize the age and just reveal the age of the tree, make it look 10 or 20 years older than it is so.

This is what gins and shari’s or driftwood does to the tree. It gives it that aged look we’re faking the edge by making it look older, just as in today’s age, people do things to make them look younger in bonsai is the opposite.

We make things. Look older: how strange is that and for those who are perfectionists, you could then get a electric carving tool, there’s so many carving tools on the market for fine carving and then remove the bark and cut grooves in it and make it look older than it really Is i’m not going to show you too much detail because it can be boring, but it’s just to show you the basic approach and then the refinement can be done now.

You can see the beauty of the trunk or having removed that branch look at it. This is going to be the front of the tree and we’re going to wire all these pads, like i did the other hand like on this one.

You can see from the top see how this has been wired, the pad flat, i’m going to do all these flat and then we’ll come back and look at the tree again all right. So let me show you how far i’ve got with this tree.

So this is our preferred front. Two branches have been taken out and made into gin, so we reveal that beautiful, beautiful trunk, the pads on three or four branches – four branches have been wired and of course, the top is still very very dense.

So we got to tackle that, so the object is to try and create spaces between some of these dense foliage. Here there are no pads to speak of. We need to create some pads in there. So, let’s see what we can do, because the tree has so many branches, it’s not a problem.

Creating the branches into pads would be quite a simple thing. So let’s proceed and do it a step at a time and the solution will usually sort itself out. So how do we know what branches to keep and what branches to remove now there’s a small branch there.

I think we take that out. You can make a pad with this to create that sort of space. There’S too much at the back there far too much far far too much it’s because there’s such a lot. Some of this can come out.

Don’t ask me how i decide, but i think that can come out. There’S plenty left in there. So after about two or three hours work, i suddenly got the urge to do this by the way. I don’t normally spend time doing this to customer stream, since this was a tree that we sold to him about 20 or 25 years ago.

It was a shame to let her just go to pot, so i’ve taken a few branches out, and this is what the tree is looking like. If you compare it with to what we started with so the bottom part is nice and light and airy looking more like a bonsai rather than just a blob, but the top is still very blobby what we call mr blobby.

So the next stage is to do this. I’Ve started wiring some pads there, but if i look at the tree like this, this gentleman has let the side branch grows so massively that the whole of the right hand side over here has become very dense and unkempt, and that is taking over almost as another Leader, so this is the side view of the tree, and the front is quite presentable now, but this top blobby bit has to be dealt with somehow and looking at it critically.

You see that this bit is really a side branch that has become like a leader. What we need to do is shave it more into this shape, so it’s more conical, so this bit is sticking out. If we come close with the camera you’ll see, one of these side branches is tending to become a leader.

This is what happens when you don’t look after a tree and you let the thing go mad, so this is becoming a dominant shoot or a leader, and this we have to deal with it. So this is a very difficult decision.

Potting and Repotting Juniper for Bonsai

If it was anyone else, i don’t think they would ever consider taking it out, but i know that it has to be taken out because it will dominate the tree and it will spoil the entire design. So what i’m going to do is i’m going to bite the bullet and take these bits out.

I will make a bit of driftwood with it. Don’T worry, you’re in the safe hands of. I think i would like to call myself a doctor, although i’m not so, i’ve got rid of that lump could make a gin. If i don’t make a gin, i can just get rid of it completely and i’m going to bring these branches down and fill this space, so this is what i’ve taken out rather drastic, but do not panic.

I will deal with this now after cutting it out. I’M just thinking to myself can i make a gym? Yes, i can make a jig, but what would the gin contribute to this design? Because the front of the tree is here and the gin is going to be back of the tree? So no one is going to see it and it would look a bit ridiculous.

A bit of gin sticking out like that. That would do nothing so again fight another bullet and get rid of it completely. There you go problem is solved, so there’s still some more drastic decisions to take.

So looking at this side here, this vertically growing branch, i think, serves no purpose, so i’m going to cut it out. I’Ve got to film and work at the same time. So that’s the offending one. Take that out.

That’s what we’ve taken out by the way i’m making cuttings juniper cuttings, and this is the ideal sort of material for making cuttings. Let me just show you, so these are all what we call heel cuttings.

So these are ideal heel cuttings, like that. This is how we take the heel cuttings. So it’s now quarter to seven in the evening, and i’ve been working since two o’clock on this tree. So from the big blob of a tree, i’ve now created a structure.

You can see the lovely branches you can see through the tree and it’s got a lovely conical shape and surprise surprise. The amount of stuff i’ve taken off is all that. All that stuff have taken off. It’S quite a bit taken off, so i hope the customer will be happy because i’m sure he would not have dared to tackle it, and i dare say many people would be afraid to tackle a tree which was so dense and heavy as this one.

It’S not finished, i’ve got to do a little more wiring at the top, but for all intents and purposes i’ve cracked, uh, cracked, it as it were. This was the front we’ve created all that space and we took out that big branch at the back, so we’ve created space here it hasn’t spoiled it at all.

It’s thinned it out, let light and air in and we’ve got quite a lot of new growth, which has filled that space just by wiring it in position, and i think i will leave it like that. I don’t want to make it look too sparse.

So this was a tree that the customer hadn’t a clue as to how to manage it and by taking two branches out and thinning it and rewiring it. I’Ve restored this tree to its rightful glory as it were. So i hope you enjoyed this little exercise.

What else do you want to know about juniper bonsai trees?


Source: YouTube

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