Improving Commercial Bonsai – Part 1 Junipers


Hi there I’m now going to do a couple of videos this is the first of two about refining commercial mass-produced bonsai that are exported by the million from China and Japan so many nurseries and garden centers sell them as they are this is typical of the kind of thing that you get soared in commercial nurseries both bonsai nurseries and other garden centers and nurseries we buy them in but we refine them so for this sort of material although we sell them as they are many people who have more knowledge about bonsai can create really beautiful things from this and I will show you how you can improve on these trees these are Chinese junipers and the variety is kiss-kiss ooh and this is the box boxes Holl NDI which comes from China they’re quite old tree it’s got beautiful gnarled old Bock so let’s see what we can make out of this but today for this video I’m going to show you how to do the Jun the junipers first and then the second part will be with the boxes Hollandia so here we are these are typical Chinese junipers which are wired in a very nice S shape and creating these nice s bends on the trunk takes quite a few years I would say that these trees are at least about 7 to 8 years old from cuttings and they’ve been wired when they are young to give it that s shape but as you can see there is no form or detail in it well many people will be quite happy to have these as a bonsai but there is always scope for improving it so I will show you how we go about doing I’ve got four of these plants and as you know I worked fairly fast and I will try and complete these in as quick a time as possible some of you have told me on the videos that if I say I can do it in three minutes I took more than three minutes if I didn’t talk so much on the video I could probably do it in that time but that would defeat the purpose because I’m here to explain to you what I’m doing let me begin by explaining a little more you may have noticed that we have these crazy contraptions which are my turntables I have three turntables here as this one this one and this one and they are all made from old office chairs when I used to work up in London I used to pass these skips where they threw all the old office furniture into the skips and I used to put on a brave face and collect these dump chairs rip the top off and just carry the base of the chair back home and make them into these turntables so this turntable is more than 35 years old it’s a very old office chair base and I’ve made them into this turntable by just screwing a piece of ply on it you’ll notice that I have them in three different heights so depending on how big the tree is I will use a different size turntable so this very low when I would use for taller tree then I have a medium one I have this high turntable and because this is a small tree I don’t want to be crouching down so I’m going to use this fight turntable to show you what I’m doing right now to begin with the easiest one now this easy one has quite a distinctive S bend to it so this is a simple one so what goes through my mind is to find the front or the back of the tree so let me turn it round and you can see this side is like this the S bend is quite visible but the tree is leaning away that side so this wouldn’t be a good front this would be a better front because it is leaning slightly towards you so that’s going to be the leader and these two branches are very convenient for making the first branch okay so let’s clear the trunk that’s the first thing I will do I will clear the trunk of anything that shouldn’t be there keep the trunk clean and clear and just concentrate on the main Brown some of you more advanced and clever bonsai people will say why do you want to keep such low branches and they are what we call bar branch is a handlebar branch I’m keeping these for two reasons I want to make this a fuller looking tree and also by keeping these low branches they act as a sort of sacrificial the branch and by keeping it there it’ll help to thicken this part of the trunk quicker than if I had removed it so I will keep it you can always remove it at a later date so let’s begin by wiring those two and I will choose two bits of wire I’ll never throw away scrap wire whenever I do wiring and they’re off cuts I can always keep it so there’s no point in wasting and so these are odd scraps of war and this gauge that I’m using is one and a half millimeter many people ask me why do you use this grid instead of another grid and how do you know what grade to use a lot of it is common sense and of course you have to try it if it doesn’t hold if it’s too thin and go for a slightly thicker one so that’s the way I decide but if I were to wire these two thin branches I’m not going to use something like that as stickers out it’s stupid to use it so they say a lot of it is common sense there’s no secret to it and now we got to decide which will be the next branch okay we’ve got to those those two branches in place and as you can see the first two branches are like the arms of a person we always say that in bonsai you are welcoming someone so if you stretch your arms like this they are and this sort of angle not turned back like in flight so they are forward through there like this so the first two branches are placed in this position then the next one this one is a bit too low but I can put that one at the back and see how that looks I want to create space between branches so I can either keep those two but as I say this one in the front it’s too close to this branch so this branch is there but how do I why this branch as I’ve repeatedly told you we always use the two branch principle where we were two branches with one piece of wire now this branch is on its own and the next adjacent branch is very high up so to overcome that I will link it to a branch that is already wired I’ll link it to this one which I’ve already wired and then take it to the next branch you notice that I could have taken from the front so you can do that and then go to that branch but I prefer to go around the back because this is the front of the tree I don’t want to clutter the front with all sorts of wasps so it’s always good practice when you are to hide the wire as much as possible and still keep it neat so I’ve avoided crossing from the front and then I go to the next branch so this is really a lesson in wiring so I’ve put it slightly to the back so that it’s not directly above this and then we will go further up to see what we can make of that and I noticed that this tree has been wide very tight so that s Bend is very tight over there in fact I should really take the tree fire up so I might still be able to do that okay now this is one here is a branch on the inside is doing nothing so I take that out and then I want to stretch this higher up to give the S shape more definition so I’m going to do like a two branch principle and wire this branch with this one to get the apex right more clearly so I’m going to use a slightly thicker piece of wire this is 2 millimeter wire so I’m going to link it to a fairly thick branch there so I’m going to take it all the way up this branch which channeled act as the leader so go around it and now once the wasps put on we can take it up like this so that we get a slightly taller tree so we’ve got the wire on one of these branches so that can be taken out that way and it’s getting a bit congested here so I’m using the previous leader of the tree which was this as a side branch so I’m gonna want these two together and there is an inside branch as well this is an inside branch can you see on the inside of the curve it’s almost like an armpit so we don’t want that keep it clear so get a shot of that so sure the trunk line clearly remember that when you make a bonsai it’s very important to show the trunk once you can show the trunk the tree will begin to look like a tree if it’s just a lot of leaves and foliage the plant will look like a bush and not look like a bonsai so now I’ve reverted to one millimeter why because it’s a very thin branch and then I’m gonna take this one out very thin wise I don’t mind using my scissors although that is bad practice anything hanging down you can remove and these tips which are the growing tips I go in there and shimmy like that so I’ve created that shape and now these branches are too young to wire but I’ve created the basic shape so you can see this is a classic a shape so I’ve refined that tree so you can see that shape so so you see the difference between the two so I’m going to go through each one of them because every tree is different now let’s look at this one and this is a very congested tree as well so the first thing I do is to find the front of the tree so this is one side which has a lot of foliage so if it has a lot of branches and foliage in the back that almost instantly tells me that is going to be the back of the tree and this side which is more open has more scope for being the front so it’s got a reasonable shape s bent but it gets lost over here the girl who produces these trees cut the top off which I wouldn’t have done but I can pull this branch up and make that tear so that’s what I’m going to do anything that goes on the inside as you can see here the inside ones what we call the ones going under the armpit we take out you don’t want those and then we find branches in the right position now on this elbow there should be a branch there’s a juvenile branch here hasn’t fully grown I will let that grow because when that grows it would make a nice branch coming that way but I won’t do anything to that so I won’t remove that so then first two branches are these two so let’s wire these two and see what we get are these two branches trees of this size are known in the bonsai world as show him besides a Japanese term meaning small bonsai so show him is a class of bonsai usually around 6 or 7 inches high extending to spring up so I put another piece of wire to extend it it’s all very healthy trees there’s a lot of foliage so that’s the extending branch anything hanging down we get rid of all these little small branches which are clouding the trunk our take off and then the next branch luckily is growing in right at the end of the elbow which is the correct position so that’s going to be a nice branch so I’m gonna wire these to that ship now because it did have a very clear apex I’m going to take this side branch you see where they chopped it on they shouldn’t have chopped it there so I will take this up this way and make that the leader so I’m going to join the cinders so let us use this is to millou I think to remove I will do it so you’ll notice that I’m always worrying two branches with one piece of oil this is absolutely fundamental if you don’t wish to remember anything else about wiring just remember this two branches with one piece of wire I don’t like to say that that’s a rule but it’s virtually a rule if you follow that you can’t go wrong so I can made that very distinctive shape so again I’ve refined that tree so if you had the time you can wire these flat to make them the pads but the basic shape is there and in a yes time it will take in at least 50% and if you want to grow it really vigorously put it in a slightly larger pot it’s not for bound but the roots are very healthy so slightly bigger pot can make the tree grow faster and taken faster so that’s the second one I’m going to go through several just to reinforce the learning process again you see this is a nothing treat okay once you’ve wired it’s like this if you don’t want and don’t refined it it’s like that so which is better clearly this is better so it’s worth taking your time to do this and since bonsai is our hobby learning to do this gives you immense satisfaction so let us look at this again and see what we can make out of this so this is more open so this is potentially the front this has got more branches at the back so I wouldn’t say that this is going to be the front so let’s concentrate on this one as the front don’t forget if you want lean you can always tilt it how you put it can alter the front or back so let’s look at where the branches are so all these little ones they’re doing nothing they’re just clouding the trunk so I will just rub them off you don’t even have to cut it you can drop them off little shoots like this can be used for making cuttings that’s if you wish to make cuttings so even little ones like this can strike as cuttings now there’s a branch here I’ve got to decide whether to use it or not I don’t think it’s doing much it’s also on the inside so I will take that off I can show that trunk much more so this is the first major branch there’s another inside branch there see over here see it’s tucked away there I could bring it round this way if I wish but I don’t think I will use it so I’m in a bit of a dilemma so let’s get rid of it this would make an ideal cutting see that is an ideal cutting for making a new tree saw I’ve cleared the trunk so you can see the beautiful S shape there so do I use this or not let’s get rid of it I’m conscious of not getting carried away whereas if you get carried away you will end up with nothing but I still have enough to work on so this is going to be a nice sweeping branch like this so I will concentrate on this branch and I’ve got disparate so why these two together so we’re going to use one in half millimeter water always cut enough why that you will need don’t worry with a whole coil dangling around your face I usually can estimate the exact length of wire I need without boosting it that comes with doing it a lot so I have a long sweeping bronze so that would be quite a nice style and then this I can make like a nice head because this is quite a thick branch and it matches the leading chute which is the apex I will wire to the apex and see if I can create more shape with the apex so I’m using the two branch principle but using one branch and the main trunk has the second branch so you’re still enforcing the two branch principle all the time and I think that head is quite full I don’t need to wire more the ends you can trim back these long shoots you can trim back just try and go into the wood and cut it like that never just share across just as finely wood where it starts and cut it like that so this one is different start with the long sweeping branch so that’s tidy that tree up so that’s number three and then I have a slightly larger one here this again is very blobby so again you see the finished article and the uncleared one you see the big difference so it’s worth spending some time to refine it to get a better shape now if we look at this one it’s been wired into an S shape but the apex has come this way so it’s almost like falling down going nowhere so I need to take the apex upwards like that before it begins to look more like a proper bonsai I don’t want to chop it here and keep it a low tree but it’s a shame to waste this so I’m gonna wire this to the top to give more pronounced S shape so to do that I’m going to use a slightly thicker wire so I’m gonna use I think this is three millimeter R so I’m going to pull this up like this [Music] so luckily I’ve got quite a thick branch here and this thick brush is going to be the anchor for the apex so the two branch principle again I’m using the stick branches one around and the effects is the other branch it’s sort of congested I’m having difficulty finding one of the branches [Music] when these trees are grown they simply wire the young cuttings with a piece of wire twisted in a random S form and they’re just allowed to grow of course being at random you sometimes get very interesting shapes but you can also get very weird and unusable shapes okay I got that right great awasum pulling it upwards so that it doesn’t look as if it’s just flattened so pull that right up so what was leaning horizontally has gone upwards like that so you can see I’ve change the shape we’re just using one piece of war there’s a lot of congestion here which is interesting but I think we may have to get rid of some of this congestion and show some of the nice trunk this is a nice mature branch but I think it’ll have to go remember that to be successful in your bonsai you’ve got to be prepared to cut there’s a branch there I think that’s too much there take that off now that branch was cut off is shooting straight up I can probably make a bit of driftwood there so I want to cut it off completely I’ll just remove the bark but you’ve got two branches there which I can war use the gin pliers crush the bark so that’s a rudimentary bit of Jeff for dick any unwanted branch you can always make into driftwood you can refine it in the space of five or ten seconds I’m not going to refine it but just to show you the principle and then these two I can why flat to give some depth as a side branch and a little back branch so I will why these two Chinese junipers by the way are very fashionable at the moment so they’re highly sought after trees now this at the top these branches are not mature enough you can see I can wire them but I would prefer to leave them to grow a little longer before I wire them in position but I have not changed the shaping for a more interesting upright shape now this branch has not been wide I’ve got them determined which is the front and which is the back of the tree the S is there I can wire this way but I think it’s almost there don’t need to fuss too much want a little bit back and when you come to repotting it you can change it slightly so this how we’ve refined these small commercial junipers I will give you just a taste or what I will do on another video session these are also Chinese junipers you see the difference in size big difference in size so there’s a lot of branches to war and I don’t think I can do this in three minutes it’ll probably take the best part of maybe 20 minutes or more to refine this so I’ll keep this for another occasion but all these trees many people will give the right time for it let’s say that they’re nice bonsai but until very fine they don’t look their best so there’s always scope for refining this so I hope you enjoyed this little video about doing these small junipers [Music] you [Music]

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