Large Juniper Squamata Bonsai

Large Juniper Squamata Bonsai

This is my field where i grow the squamatas most of them were dug up about five years ago but when i came to this nursery in january 1986 i planted about 50 or 60 of these junipers komata which were no more than about i would say one centimeter or half an inch in diameter and they were planted in the field there’s still some planted in the ground if you look at the camera closely you see that’s where they’re planted and the trunks they’re about five to six inches in diameter and this is how they grow they thicken quite fast if left to their own devices they can become five meters tall that means more than 16 feet high i have one on the nursery which i have to keep cutting down and over the years i’ve done lots of experiments this is the famous peter chan trick where i put wire around the trunk so the wire is embedded in the trunk that was one of the trunks but that has slowed the rate of that but some of the other branches which were not wired they grew normally so i don’t know what i’ll do with this one i will do something with it eventually because that trunk is interesting so i’ve been doing lots of experiments with various things and i also have done propagation by air layering so all these smaller plants all these smaller plants are air layerings from the big trees so this is how we do them instead of just throwing them away you see how nice the radial roots are so from air layering as with all junipers it’s very easy to grow but most of these big ones have been field grown and then dug up and put in pots so you’ll just look at this one i’m not going to put it upright but look at the trunk of this come close and see huge trunks and this is typical juniper where the bark flakes up every year and if you brush it with a brush you get that lovely red color so this is going to be another nice tree so there are lots of juniper school mater here just endless amounts another air layering here so all these are potential bonsai but you must be wondering why i have so many of these junipers lying around here there’s another air layering so these are the ones that people can manage so this is a simple one just while the branch is done and you’ve got a lovely formula upright tree right to return to this question why do we have so many here and i’m not very keen on making junipers from this variety because it has fallen out of fashion although bonsai seems to be an innocuous pastime it is almost like closed fashions and all other fashions in home decor or whatnot and the juniper squamata the full name by the way the botanical name is juniperous squamata marai maya’s juniper m-e-y-e-r so the botanical name is juniper mata mirai and there is a new variety called blue star i’m not sure if it is this is blue star but as you can see it is clearly a blue juniper not like most of the other chinese junipers which are red and not red they’ve got red bark but they’ve got green foliage but this has got blue foliage so this is your square mata they make lovely bonsai i remember when i was in the club scene very active in the 70s and 80s this was one of the most popular junipers for making bonsai but ever since the late 80s i would say even early 90s it has fallen out of popularity so people don’t grow this anymore but i’m going to show you what we can do with it because they’re mainly straight trunks people are not interested in them but even with the straight trunks they make beautiful formal upright trees and if you look at any of them there is so much potential in them but i’m going to start with some smaller ones i’m going to do three junipers and i’m going to show you where so here are some more squamata juniper and this i have chopped down several times it’s reached about 16 20 feet and i keep chopping it down and the trunk of this one must be about i would say like a full grown tree at least 30 centimeters in diameter so what i will do with this i don’t know this is absolutely massive so this is how the junipers score martyrs grow if left unchecked but i’ve just spotted here among our stock a very interesting squamata in fact there’s several score markers here let me just show you the more i look the more i find this is called mata air layering so this has been allowed to grow but we can do something with this and because this is such a tall tree i’m going to make more airlines from the top and for those who always argue with me that many of these trees don’t but back from old wood look at it budding from the old wood so they do bud back from old wood and you will get young branches so don’t despair all junipers do bud back now this is a very interesting one and i’m going to work on this as well but you can see on this one by the way these are all these lovely ginkgo leaves look at this one this is about seven eight foot tall and i have in the heart to chop it down because the interest is all lying below here so this is the tree over here but whether to just chop that off i don’t know but because i’ve got so many i might well chop it but i may earlier it but we’ll take this in and work on this as well so there’s this is going to be stage two of this project so the stage one i will work on two simple ones and then we will discuss this one as well now this one again it is what we would virtually call an impossible tree now this as i said are all these air layered trees so you can see the air layering still unfortunately part of the tree or part of the trunk has died away but it’s still interesting and it is going to survive air rings behave in this way you can see where it’s been chopped there and the roots are formed on this side so this air layering was probably done about maybe five years ago and then left in this pot and we don’t plant these trees in rich soil because we don’t want them to grow too vigorously now let’s see what the options are on this tree it’s got quite an interesting trunk despite it being fairly straight these are natural looking gins so this tree can be planted with this as a possible front and then let’s see what we can do with this so this is just extemporizing creating as we go along so i won’t waste time showing you how to improve the gins it’s just a question of removing the bark shortening these a bit let’s say i’ll refine the gins later but the main thing is to see what we can create with virtually everything there is on this plant so this is the raw material what do we do with that so the first thing if i were to give you this tree i think you would probably chop this back portion off and just work on that and make it a literary like that i think if we wired this to begin with we see that it can be quite interesting just wiring that on its own let me get the correct type of wires while you have a closer look at the tree this juniper like most other junipers is prone to scale insect scale insect or those little white insects that almost look like human lice and they can damage the trees very badly but although i have so many of these growing in the field not a single one of them has got any scale on them so all i’m doing is putting the right grade of wire on and bending it as much as i can to shorten the branch that’s why i’m using the wire thick wire to do this because it was spread all over the place i’m just bending it even that looks quite interesting i could bend it this way and see what happens there and bend it back this way so that’s become a very plausible literati so there’s so many different things you can do to this tree and if i wanted to i could just remove the top and just keep a little bit let me bring a bag so if we didn’t want to use that bit we could keep the tree short like this and just keep the tree this size and make a nice literati that way but that is also very plausible literacy now let’s see what we can do if we did this so this how you would practice it you know just try different positions and see what you think works best that is possible so that’s another style of doing the tree so it just shows you the different options you have in making this tree so i want to spend more time on this because you can see what i can do but i’m going to pot this up and then i will show you the final pictures again this is another air layering all the air layerings don’t have these massive thick roots so that’s the beauty of air layering and as i mentioned to you before all junipers have this flaky bark which you can take off and clean and again this is a simple one find the front find the leader and here presto you’ve got it and because many people like carving this is subject for carving should you want to carve it but my thoughts on carving is that please don’t carve just for the sake of carving i see too much of this ever since kimura came into this bonsai world everyone has been obsessed with carving and you get these people like apes literally aping copping kimura and carving and they carve trees just for the sake of carving and that i think is wrong what mr kimura does he’s an artist and he’s the greatest sculptor in the world of bonsai trees and people are carving just to do it as i say just for the heck of it and that is the wrong approach carving should be appropriate to the tree if it’s not appropriate then it doesn’t suit it’s amazing what wire can do to transform a bush into a bonsai i reckon without the use of wire it would be very very difficult to achieve any thing of substance in bonsai bring it there bring it around the back like that make the apex saw i’ll leave the end so that it can grow a little more if i tip it it will send side shoot screwing now this is a possible front now because there’s a little stub there where i cut the top off you could have carved that made a little gin or you can carve the front this way and make the branches hang this way that’s also a possibility there’s so many possibilities so you can use this as the front you don’t have to have this as the front so there are many many possible fronts to this tree so the next video is going to be a shot of the tree complete and put in its pot and i will show that later meanwhile i’ll go to that other big tree which is part two so as you can see this is a beast of a tree it must wear every bit 300 kilos i reckon this spot is about more than two foot in diameter and let’s look at the tree all these lovely ginkgo leaves because it was growing under a gingko tree and while it’s at this angle you see it’s got lovely twists and bends uh the side branches here can make a leader so it only needs to be a short tree the rest of that as i say i will decide what to do after i’ve styled the bottom part and if we look at it from every side before we put it on the turntable you see that there’s endless possibilities there okay so the next shorter i’m going to put it on the turntable so we switch the camera for a while so let’s look at this tree from every angle to see what the options are so our resident robin keeps coming here to say hello i love the twist of that trunk beautiful twist so you could possibly even make that the leading chute but it seems a shame to waste this part so this i don’t know what to do with that if we wanted to make it a big tree you could even use the whole height here and make this the leader using these as the branches so that is one possibility but i think the beauty is really in the trunk here see how the trunk sweeps here so that’s what we should aim to capitalize so there’s i think there’s a case for making all this gin gin all this and just use this part and the back part it’s quite a major decision so i think we need to use this part and emphasize that as much as possible that’s very straight as i said we could earlier if i didn’t want to i can earlier it but let’s see let’s say i’ve got so many what does one airline make not much of a difference so this is an instance where even i have to be a bit cautious and not take any hasty decisions because there is so much potential here that one hasty decision can spoil the tree so normally a tree like this in the past i have sometimes spent days weeks maybe even years i remember whenever i used to have a difficult tree i used to keep it in a prominent place where i walk past it so every time i walk past it i say to myself what can i do with that tree and that is how the ideas come to my head so although you may see me working on trees very fast and taking quick decisions sometimes there is case for contemplating and taking your time in deciding what to do so i love that beautiful twist and of course the score matters are very useful to doing these spiral gins there is no obvious leader on this part at this junction over there there is and this part is very straight so if i use the straight part the beauty of the lower part which is twisted will be wasted wind up so let’s return to this tree and see where we’ve got to you should always stand far back because when you stand far back you get the overall impression of the design if you’re too close you will lose sight of the overall shape so what we call in business the strategic view you’ve always got to take a strategic view so looking at it from the back if i stand back and look at it i can see straight away that although i didn’t want to make a big tree the big tree is still a possibility it will look very nice because of the curve i said that this part is a bit straight but there is some curve so i might even keep the tree that high and keep the tree like this this size so that is an option so the way i’m going to do this is to wire more wire much more and then decide what the options are so there’s some more wiring to do i’m going to wire these branches while these branches down uh tidy up the wiring there and i’ll decide what to do with that and then probably do something to the top there so that’s the plan of work so i’m just showing you what we’ve done so far we’ve removed all the bark from that top part just removing the bark and very roughly doing the gins we see if it works if it doesn’t work then we’ll discard it and then we’ll assess the tree again right here we are we’re going to take this out of the pot and try and put it i think it’s heavy isn’t it there you are okay so now it is just growing in ordinary mud and we are going to do a bit of scraping of the soil which is a tedious process so so much talk about bonsai compost right bonsai compost has its place but it just shows that because plants and trees grow naturally this is just ordinary garden soil and the tree has grown so well in it so sometimes i’m tempted to plant our bonsai in this medium i know it’s not ideal but it won’t say that the tree won’t grow but the tree will grow better in bonnie salt because we would have provided more drainage and we can control the moisture content better so don’t be disappointed if you can’t get bonsai salt that’s the point i’m trying to make i know people will criticize me for everything but i’d like to give honest opinions and tips things that have worked for me so i won’t show you too much of this tedious task the next stage will be when we’ve taken a lot of soil off and testing it in its temporary training pot look at the lovely rich black soil that we have although i say this is ordering garden soil but a lot of our garden soil has a lot of natural leaf mold and compost hence the black color so this tree has been in the pot for probably only about three years so we can see the extent of the root there are some big roots and i’m going to see how much root there is before i decide what i can cut off i don’t want to stress the tree too much remember that every time you cut roots it does stress the tree so the least amount of root i can cut away the better for the tree and we would gradually reduce the amount of root over a period of time maybe over period of two years the main thing is to reduce the root ball to get it into a temporary bonsai training pot and since we are now almost the third week in november it’s quite safe to do it and here’s our little robin our resident robin follows us everywhere inquisitive fellow okay we will stop for a while while i examine the roots i’m really feel that there’s such a lot of fibrous roots this is what we call the fibrous roots like that that are what we call the feeding roots or the feeder roots and that’s what we want to keep the thick roots are not that important some of the thick roots are in fact i think slightly rotten and i dare say they may have died but we have a lot of very nice healthy root so we’ll now try and see if it can fit none of these pots these are plastic bonsai pots really nice pots okay steve if you can kindly try and lift it should be lighter now it shouldn’t feel so heavy we’re just going to test it to see if it fits it’s not the final potting because the final potting could be in a slightly shallower pot in fact i’m just wondering if we can get it into a drum pot of some kind now that’s a very thick route here which seems redundant just hang on there i’ll just get the big lockers okay can i shift it to this side steve ah but the tree should be the all the way around so we’ve decided to use this round mica pot drum pot and because we can mound the soil this pot is perfectly adequate there’ll be enough room and all the roots we’ve taken off are these two little bits that’s all we’ve taken off so that should be okay so i’m gonna get steve to prepare this microphone we need to tie two pairs of quite thick wire maybe like three mil wire or three and a half to steady the tree and then i will show you how we put it up so we take it out of the thing again okay we will now prepare the pot with some heavy wire so because it’s a heavy tree we’re using three mil wire to tie the tree and we’re using two pairs talking of pots i just show you some of the pots we use these are what we call shallow flower pots normal flower pots are much deeper but we buy a lot of these very shallow pots that one is one meter in diameter that pot huge pot but it’s a shallow pot and that’s what we use for training our field grown trees in this of course is a huge i would say that’s almost a 60 centimeter size japanese training pot from tokonami i used to buy quite a lot of these and they are not cheap you think that the ordinary flower pots not so they are made specifically for bonsai with large drainage holes and tying holes and this is also another training pot very large plastic training pot bonsai training pot so we have quite a selection of pots we’re very fond of using micro pots because they’re indestructible and they look the part from a distance you can’t tell whether it’s ceramic or mica so we prepared the pot now and we’re now going to put the tree in so the next stage is we’re going to use a mixture of soils so let’s begin so i’m going to reveal you some more secrets of how we transition the tree from ordinary flower pots with garden soil to a bonsai training pot so this is our sphagnum moss i’m pleased to say that these supplies of moss we now get is not from new zealand they’re sourced from somewhere in the uk i think this is a welsh supplier it comes from wales so not so far to travel so i’m putting moss there because i believe that moss has these magical properties that has maybe enzymes and can really encourage the tree to send out roots so if we lift this tree can you lift that’s it should be a bit lighter so the base is going to sit on the moss as central as possible more this way okay so that tree is central i’m not too worried about the soil popping up because i’m going to do this over a period of two years so initially it’ll be a bit proud but then in a couple of years time when we repotted we can cut all those thick roots at the bottom so i’m letting the moss touch the roots so that they send out more roots and i may even use some of the old soil but i may mix it with some of our standard bonsai soil i may use our standard bottles as salt because i think i’ve got enough of the original soil on the roots so this is our standard bonsai mix which is the secret formula of pine bark then the moss peat equivalent akadama japanese volcanic grit two types of japanese volcanic grit goes in there so this is the texture of our bonsai compost look at that beautiful stuff okay so now that we’ve put the moss around i will start putting some of the soil in a lot of soil and once i put some soil i will then get steve to tie the tree in with the wire will this root come this side a bit without breaking it okay okay okay then we crisscross it from here okay then if we tighten it with the inclines a bit rest is just firming the soil in and this tree should be able to stand up on its own let me just check the angle before we firm it too much okay okay can you firm it in from this angle just by propping it up and forcing the soil and ramming the soil in we can get it to sit in the correct angle that we wish amazing how much soil is used for a tree of this size okay so that looks much more like a bonsai now and although i haven’t removed the top i’m going to keep the top on in case you’re wondering why i’ve left it as many of you will know by now because we are a commercial nursery sometimes you’ve got to go with what the customers like what i may like may not be what other people like this was a hard lesson i learned many many years ago when i used to go to japan back in the late 80s and early 1990s i never used to like buying satsuki azaleas because i personally didn’t like satsuki azalea i didn’t like flowering trees i only like maples and maybe junipers but my wife used to keep telling me that you’ve got to buy azaleas because a lot of people will like it and i’m glad i did listen to her eventually but this is where different people have different tastes and usually women’s intuition is very uh right and she was proved right and satsukis are now one of our very popular trees and so are most of the other flowering trees so coming back to the point about why i left the gin someone who may want to buy this tree eventually will light the gin and he’ll keep it and do what they like with it so i’m keeping it but my preference would be to keep the tree this high and then work with the tree as if the top didn’t exist so this is how i’m going to work with the tree and if i just could turn the tree around and refresh your memory i started off with the tree with this as the possible front of the tree this is like a false little head here but i decided that the other side looks more attractive again different people will have different views i need to tidy up a little more i’m going to remove a few more of these branches there’s far too much going on here and i’ve wrapped this round to make a spiral so that’s another feature which could turn out to be interesting if this is too much i may even take this up this way so we will see so this is the future direction of the tree and i’m just going to refine it a little more rather than do it behind your back i will just show you i’m not going to hide anything i think it’s too cluttered i’m going to remove that branch there is far too much here far too much going on that can go to the back that could go to the back if i could use it i will keep it these have to be thin quite a lot before i do the final wiring so i’m just going to do more wiring which is really quite a tedious thing to show you endless wiring but these will all be wide wide and then you will see the refined tree in the next shot [Music] you

 

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