How to Refine a Chinese Juniper Bonsai Tree

In this video I show you how to refine a Chinese Juniper Bonsai. Revealing the beauty of the trunk.

i’m going to show you this is our juniper house not all of them just just a few of the junipers i’ve got more junipers in another tunnel and these of course are the very very upmarket expensive trees look at that tree these i bought in 2007 from japan and i bought a whole load of them and i keep improving them so they are in all different conditions but we also buy some which are very small and grow them on so you will see there some more junipers so these are all these smallish ones these are all the true chinese juniper the variety kisu but when a lot of people buy these they don’t know how to maintain it well there are different reasons why we do different things to junipers look at these for instance on the floor here you will see that there are lots of junipers here too so these are what we call semi-trend trees or semi-finished trees and you must be wondering why i leave some of these to grow long and don’t prune it back there’s always a good reason for doing it so these trees that are left to grow long is because i want to develop long branches i may want to make them into a bigger tree and i may want to make them a stronger tree so as i say they’re all different reasons for doing different things so this is another example here now this one has been thinned out a little bit so you can see the bronze structure but i don’t always do them to all the trees so if you look around here you will see scores of junipers all over there all potted up all in different stages of being developed now i’m going to show you some junipers that may be a bit confusing for you a tree like this is actually a very nice tree but you got to bring out the full potential of the tree some of them are easy some of them are difficult so although you might like a tree looking like this this really isn’t how a juniper should look like it should look much thinner than this so that you can see the spaces between the branches and should be able to appreciate the shape of the trunk so all these here you will see they are what we call a blob it’s just a blob of branches so let me just pick a couple of them at random and show you how i go about refining this so i’ll go into the workshop and i will show you what i do [Music] i’ll just show you we’ve got loads of junipers all as we say in different stages of being developed different stages of pruning so look at these ones they all need refining and we’ve got our major specimens as well this tree has not been worked on at all this were purchased from japan 2007 and these big ones again they’re all in different stages of being trained and groomed so there are junipers as we say galore so let’s go into the workshop now and i will show you how we do with that simple one i do realize that many of my viewers are just starting into bonsai and because i like to encourage them i like to keep it simple it’s no good trying to show you these very very massive trees that you will never get a chance to work with and you’ll only get disappointed if i show them to you and there is no point doing it if it is not within your capabilities so look around we have so many junipers here waiting to be worked on two typical junipers that are in need of what we call refinement hidden underneath here is a very nice trunk but you cannot appreciate the trunk because the tree is so dense so they all have a front we may need to change the angle of planting but let’s tackle these trees and i will show you how i go about it every tree mind you is going to be different and we will deal with each one in turn now this tree although it’s been planted in a pot like this you would think that this is the front but it may not be the front what worries me is that this great big branch is coming out from here and it’s not in quite the right position this one here and then there are some other branches going that way now although it’s been planted like this i can see straight away that if i plant it slightly differently i know that the curly trunk may not be so visible this could also be a front so i’ve got to consider all the different possibilities also this branch coming out there makes it possible to make it like this occurring this way but again because the trunk is more visible like this so there’s a conflict of interest and a lot of choice okay so i’ve got to as you say bite the bullet make a decision i can’t dilly dally all the time so let us see what we can do i think i will keep this as the front because this is the most interesting trunk line here that’s the trunk line if i turned it here there’s still a trunk line but it’s not so pronounced keeping this the front may not make it so pronounced so let’s revert to this so there are some very confusing uh branches here which is clouding the trunk so i will straight away try and introduce some light and see what is usable what is not usable remember the branches come out from the elbow not from inside the elbow from outside the elbow so if there is an elbow like so can you see the elbow there the branch there is the right position from outside the elbow now this can be used as a sacrificial but it is very very low down this is also very low down so as we say because i’m trying to demonstrate a point i won’t leave these two become sacrificials i will take this one off low one and i take this one off i’ve created a visible trunk so these two big lumps have take been taken out so this is the first branch there which i can clearly see now this branch here is coming from inside the elbow so that is not really good so let’s get rid of this one big branches taken out but you can now see the trunk that is the usable branch and now i got to think about this funny branch here if i kept this as the front of the tree i can use this punch like that but with the bunch coming out this way and using this as a front it’s not really visible or not so good it’s just blocking everything so another massive branch comes out you must be wondering how many branches have i got left there’s one two three four four branches have been taken out four branches taken out but you can see the trunk better now and then there’s still a back branch going out that way and a branch coming out this way in fact this branch can be used as the branch here i’m not going out that way okay let’s see let’s proceed to wire the branch in place and then take some more decisions okay that’s that branch i don’t know whether to keep this or not because this is really clouding and hiding the trunk let’s take it off number five branch taken off i’ve taken five branches off you must be wondering have i got anything left probably not okay we’ve got two very usable branches at exactly the right place and position i’m not too worried about the trunk thickening because i know that if i put it back in a big plastic training pot or orderly flower pot i can get the tree to thicken up the trunk in next to no time okay so i’ve got three branches here one two and three two wires so let’s proceed to wire that this tree is about i would say 25 to 30 centimeter tall i’m not used to the metric system because i was brought up in the imperial system inches and feet and i dare say a lot of people in the usa may still use inches and feet so if i get a bit confused and you get confused when i talk of inches and feet please bear with me all i do know is that my one stride is one meter but more than that i don’t know two bronze system every time you must all be sick of me telling you remember the true branch principle but that is fundamental to bonsai never take a shortcut and try to wire one branch on its own unless it is absolutely unavoidable where you don’t have any other anchor point but true branch principle absolutely fundamental okay i wired those two branches there one there and one going this way and they are that was only a background so i’ve got this branch as well so let’s wire this one and then i’ve got it now the next branch from this one to that one is very far no i think i’ve got these two so i again found two so you’ve always got to find two branches to wire together and that’s the secret for making the two branch principle work always look for two branches as near as possible i’m just going to point out something this got a rather gnarled lumpy trunk and they are the remnants of the little branches and twigs which are there it’s better to clean it up so that it looks a bit smart and while i’m talking about that let me see i’ve got a little wire brush hanging around where’s that brush now just a little brush makes it nice and red again okay so those two branches are wired now i’ve got this branch and that branch at the back these two i’m going to wire i’m going to wire those two i always like to look at the front of the tree most of the time so i know where i’m going so begin by anchoring one branch and once that branch is anchored you can go on to the next branch never try and complete wiring that one branch on its own it’s always better to create the anchor first and then go on to wiring a complete branch see exact length of warm no waste i’m very proud that i’m able to gauge the exact amount of water to use as i say this comes with practice knowing exactly how much water to use so that you don’t end up wasting masses of wires always get annoyed when people come to my workshops and because we don’t charge for the wire they are so wasteful where they will throw about six inches of wire because they cut too much now we’ve got a rather thick branch there it is so thick that it becomes difficult to use it as a branch but nevertheless because it’s low i will have to use it otherwise i will have nothing to use okay see if you leave these junipers to their own devices they throw all sorts of shoots some of these shoots are really like uh leaders in their own right so thick they can take over the whole tree and before you know where you are that will become the leader instead of that but anyway i can wire it down and by wiring it down i can control the vigor to a large extent so let me just link the two together again so you see how useful the gin pliers are i always use the gin pliers to terminate the wire without it it’s very hard to bend the very end of the wire some people may do with electrical long nose pliers and all that it may do the job but these are purpose made tools and they are quite different from the make do tools that you would use you know like electrical pliers and all that not quite the same the feel is different okay so it’s so bushy let’s tin it a little bit reduce the vigor of course if you want to have a tree that you want to keep as a small size tree then you can refine it much more and then show it as a finished tree in which case you wire all these little side branches too but i’m not going to do that because i’m just going to show you basically how one would go about thinning these trees out so you can see the shape that has emerged already and now that top i will just give it a little twist so vigorous and then the very top there is a leader so i’m going to wire that top up again two branch principle so i’m going to put two wires on a branch that i’ve already wired and then take it up to the top i would mention that two nights ago i was working in the office because it was too cold to work outside here and i was self videoing and after working for about four hours i discovered that the microphone that i wear over here and the transmitter four hours of work was wasted not to worry you just got to accept it now there’s a just a little more at the top i can just refine well the wire’s going the wrong way we’re going to start again because there’s a direction of coiling that’s got to be followed so i’ve got to follow the same path as the existing one and you use long piece of wire right so that’s done so hopefully you get a fairly good idea now this one has not been wired i forgot that i better wire that otherwise it’ll be a drift without a base as it were now what should i do i need to follow the path of this wire so i’m going to just link this one as the anchor point take the wire round and take it to this back one this one is a drift with no wire and it’s springing up these branches are so thick that i have to control it by bending it down you will control the vigor to a large extent so hopefully i’ve done enough now that one is springing up i’ll just wire that one down just for completeness usually these little lateral branches if you were going to make a shohan tree and you want to exhibit it you have to wire every single little branch that is there but i’m growing it on so i’ve left that tip because i want to grow them a bit stronger i’m not in a rush to cut it off see i’ve created the structure so have a look at the difference you know it started off almost like that and i’ve ended up like that so that can be done again and to show you how much we’ve removed i have had to remove i would say i have removed more than half the tree look at that all that has been removed from this plant to give that and of course nothing is wasted now just to reinforce i don’t always show separate programs about propagating but all these become usable for cuttings now let me again remind you if you have a thick piece of wood like that that will never root unless you use a lot of heat and mist even a thick piece like that would not be viable as a cutting it is far too thick so don’t be greedy the ideal size of cutting is literally the size of a toothpick that is the ideal size of cutting so that is a heel cutting now from that point i can make two more that one also is another heel cutting and that was also here cutting and if you dip these in hormone rooting powder i’ll just show you i have been making cuttings so that was a tray of cuttings i did the other night so these can be dipped in hormone rooting powder and stuck in these deep trees so that is how we go about making our cuttings so this is this tree virtually done i don’t know whether to spend time to show you this as well now every tree is different okay let’s have a go at this as well in case you think that was a fluke it’s not a fluke and let’s see what is here now in here again a lot of congestion a lot of congestion and we’re again looking for the front this is leaning towards me so this can be the front there’s a lot of confusion here you can see there’s a thick branch going across the trunk there that is confusing that is very confusing so i know that that can be taken out straight away this is because these trees are just left to grow to make it strong but you can’t there’s another thick branch coming out look at the cuttings that i will have we produce a lot of junipers ourselves just from cuttings so nothing is wasted nothing is ever wasted here we love propagating and because we are growing nursery we don’t just buy plants and sell we actually grow most of these plants and we have huge juniper fuels where they are grown in the ground to thicken and you can see how they are grown and the summer take you there now anything which is going inside the curve like that one that i can take out so by method of elimination take out the obvious ones the ones that you don’t want now this is okay this is at the elbow so that can be used there are two branches there in case you can’t make i’ll be so congested there’s a low branch here and a low branch there so let me take the lower one out as i say you can always use the lower branches for sacrificials but i don’t want to do that i just want to complete this tree okay so that can be the first branch there is a semblance of a second or the back branch there so vigorous look at it the vigor comes from feeding we feed our trees quite well now there are two branches there we don’t need both of them so we take out one of them so you’re beginning to see the trunk now that one is really the inside of the elbow this one here can you see so that really is a faulty branch take that out now over here there’s a cluster of three branches one two three and i don’t think we need all of them we can probably just use one of them instead of three so let’s take out maybe maybe take out the one is jutting more or less forward so you can see straight away that we’ve revealed the trunk this is the scary part you know you got to strike the balance between cutting enough to show the trunk but not cutting off so much that you end up with nothing left at all okay so that can be why that can be wired so these can be wired now that can be wired down that would be a nice branch over there at the right position there’s some back branches don’t forget we need back branches to provide like a contrast okay i can now proceed to wire the tree to give it more definition so this first branch we can use we’ve got to use the correct grade of wire there are three branches here so i’m going to use the two branch principle by wiring two first and then another two again but the thicker of the two branches will be wired twice why twice meaning i will use two thinner wires rather than one very thick wire because these branches of different thicknesses so all these trees need to be kept in check if you don’t want them to go rampant that’s the danger if you have too many trees there is a danger of losing control of them that’s why in the commercial nursery one has to keep working all the time so now you realize why bonsai are expensive because there’s a lot of labor going into it okay so that’s in the right position now these two fortunately are quite close together so we can wire those two together let me pop the tree up at the correct angle so i’m using two mil wire i can’t emphasize enough that two ml wire is probably the most commonly used gauge of wire for this size of tree i don’t have to okay trees of this size i think are very popular for most uh people starting off in bonsai although i prefer large trees but i do work on trees of this size as well so again you can see how the shape is forming now these upper two upper bounds are very very thick for some reason all the vigor has shot to the top but i know that if i wire it flat i will begin to control the vigor to a large extent and then they won’t keep getting thicker and thicker i haven’t had bonsai classes for more than a year now with all this corona virus we’ve had the odd one-to-one distanced session but if you came on one of our classes this is the sort of thing i teach you to do there’s nothing like actually doing it in front of someone who can guide you along it’s very daunting if you’re working on your own because you don’t know what to do you know shall i cut this shall i cut that so if i’m around i can actually show you what to do i do miss the classes but hopefully they will begin say later in the spring and just to reassure you i’ve already had my corona virus jab so i need to repot it at this angle now very congested at the top again let’s look for some branches to wire see that is a extraneous branch let’s take it out and then there’s another branch coming out that way see as you thin the tree you begin to see the structure that is latent hiding in there so those two can be wired so all looking very promising so judging the length of wire i must say the basic wiring to create their shape has been done so we are just really refining it but if you had like the boss juniper i showed you the project of the blows that’s how they are started we wire the absolutely straight trees and create these s-shaped trees and then let everything grow and when the time is right we then refine it more so there are different stages to the entire process all very interesting this i’m pruning the shoots which are shooting upwards and the ones that are hanging downwards so that i create a flat pad now the apex was cut there so i don’t know whether to continue the apex that way see you can use that as the apex so there are many choices this is a bit confusing there i have a difficult choice to make i have the original apex which has been chopped and flattened so that’s going backwards so i’m creating a new apex so you can see what’s happening there you can see there that was the original apex which is contained to go but it’s flattened so i’m taking a side branch and making this the apex so that is perfectly acceptable so let’s do that bit confusing these upward pointing branches i will refine it a little more but you can see the shape emerging already so i’ll just complete that and then the tree will be finished so although these are all junipers from the same stable they all have slightly different situations and you’ve got to deal with them differently so that is how i’ve done that one and i wouldn’t plant it back like this because that’s too flat i’ll have to plant it at this sort of angle like that so it may not go back in the same pot we may use a different pot so that is how we dealt with these ones and then these branches can be flattened little tweaking so we’ve tidied up two trees which were full of branches and look at the amount i’ve taken out so these will be made into cuttings and we will get more plants so i hope you’ve enjoyed seeing how these are refined so this is the first stage of refinement we have to then develop it a little more and then wire these pads flat and develop the trunk more and they will eventually become very nice little trees there you go [Music] you

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