Making Juniper Bonsai from Difficult Material


Making Juniper Bonsai from Difficult Material

Today is another day and i was just rummaging around the nursery and i came across two old junipers again these are things that just lie around the nursery languishing doing nothing and a lot of people who come to the nursery say what are those rubbish trees you know you can’t do anything with it and they think that just because they’re lying around they’re not worth anything but i know that they are worth something they’re worth something to me certainly so this tree that looks very straggly it’s a juniper of some kind maybe a common juniper of some variety and i can see straight away that it’s got a lot of potential beautiful trunk and the branches are usable this is another problem tree but let’s deal with them one at a time so let’s look at this one first now as with all these trees let’s take it out of the pot and see what is at the root base and here we go on the turntable and here’s our resident robin it’s become our mascot and of course a tree like this which is at least two inches at the base it’s impossible to bend the trunk so we will just use it as a straight trunk tree and as a formal upright tree looking at this tree what have we got here there’s a bit of crossing route some people like the roots like that and as always i turn it around and see which is the best possible front but although i say that i decide the front almost before i start any work as you know from watching some of my other videos it doesn’t always turn out to be like that because what i decide as the front now may turn out to be the back so what are the principles of a tree like this many people who are fairly inexperienced would straight away look for these thick old branches to try and wire and make into a bonsai but the trick every time is that for the sake of proportion it’s always better to use thin branches to emphasize the thickness of the trunk so if you have thin branches it contrasts with the trunk more and it makes the trunk look thicker if we just home in on that while i find a plastic bag [Applause] so look at a tall tree like this do you want to use the whole height probably more a tree with proportions like this would look far better so without having to cut it i can see straight away that by eliminating the top it begins to look more like a tree so there’s not much to decide let’s do some removal get rid of these i know some people would like to make gin with that you can if you wish i personally wouldn’t bother too much and as we say in the business although this growth seems to be you know sacrificed what have i done in all these years it has helped to strengthen the tree so it’s done its job although it’s not a sacrificial at the right place i think it’s still keeping the tree healthy and strong so i’m trying to do a little bit of gin just in case i want to keep the options open so i’m just tearing the wood so making ginger is really about tearing the wood rather than just cutting it see like that you can assist it with the gin pliers or for my indian viewers this is the chapati maker called the chimta so that gin is quite interesting there now this branch what will i do with that i don’t think i can do much with that let’s just get rid of the debris very often just by tidying a tree if you tie just tidy up the tree it will make a big difference i hope the robin is not distracting the viewers it sometimes can be distracting if it comes and sit on my hand i think looking at the tree straight away i can turn it around i can see straight away that probably the other side may be more interesting but as i said i got to keep an open mind i don’t want to take the decision too quickly in case i regret so is this a possibility i wonder see that silhouette is quite interesting like that and because it’s a live branch you can see the wood will peel off very easily we can remove the bark just to reinforce the learning for our newer viewers so removing the bark is just crushing the bark on the live tree and the bark will just come away as i said i don’t want to waste two hours just showing how to gin you will certainly leave my channel so you can see how easily the bark peels off okay so this was my original back of the tree i started off choosing this as the front now looking at this exactly what i said this may turn out to be a better front the root is not so ugly there’s an ugly root on this side that i don’t think is nice although some people like these funny roots i don’t think that’s a beautiful route this is better here so let’s do a tiny bit of wiring you can either have long spreading branches but preferably not let’s see where we go i’m trying to match the same thickness of branch for this grade of wire this is two mil wire so these two branches are the same thickness so it’s literally a question of wiring everything okay that’s okay and now slightly thicker wire for these two you must be wondering why this tree is so dark looking i think it’s just the rain we had a lot of rain last night so the trunk is wet funny what i started off as the back is now my preferred front just shows never take a decision too early and be prepared to change your mind some people never like to change their mind either they feel silly having made a mistake but it’s very important if you make a mistake admit it it’s a bit long so you see how it buds back from the old wood so don’t worry about these trees especially conifers a lot of people have this obsession that especially all conifers never butt back from old wood that is not true i got to stand back and look at the tree now for a proportion with height like that those branches seem a bit long so i think really they should be shortened a bit it doesn’t look right before i wrap wire around the trunk let me just give it a clean because once i put wire on it i may not be able to brush it so nicely or so easily although it’s wet you can still see the red color coming all these junipers and q presses they have this lovely red box and typical of all these stately tall trees like the sequoias this is certainly got the image of the sequoia coming through let’s see i think i’ve got too much there do i need that probably not so i will probably take it out remember if you just wire everything in sight and then arrange the branches uh that usually works i’ll keep that for a while and at the last moment if i feel it needs to come off i will remove it but meanwhile actually this weird branch here is quite interesting and rather than just cut it out why don’t i just keep it there and see because you do get trees like this in nature you know get the odd branch growing like that after all don’t forget that in bonsai the main object is to create the image of trees you see in nature far too often people who do bonsai they see all these great big or famous bonsai and trees that are traditionally made and they cannot think outside the box they think that everything has to be made in a japanese looking style and it’s got to look like an unnatural tree don’t forget bonsai the images of the bonsai are not what you would find actually in nature so they’re really artificial in a sense whereas if you try to really copy nature the trees should look like natural trees i always feel that in any art form although i’m not a trained artist i do know that innovation is very important if you keep copying others that’s not art that’s not true art that becomes a craft so try to improvise what would i do with that one take it to the back i usually like to stand back to get an impression of what the tree looks like in fact it does look quite nice i will take a after shot after refine the gin because as i say i could be spending quite a few hours just removing the box and i don’t want to waste precious video time showing you these very mundane tasks what i will do next is to put it in a micropot so that’s the next toss so as i said we’re going to use that as the front in fact it’s nice every side so let’s use a round pot so i brought two micro pots drum pots this looks a bit big and because of the drum part whoever buys this tree can use whichever front they want i think that is probably about right and now little robin is going to have time of its life seeing what worms are in there and this black soil i may have mentioned to you before we use a lot of our garden compost when we sweep up the leaves and the debris from the work we do we compost it we don’t burn the leaves so this is all leaf mold mixed with mud and that’s a lovely compost for growing trees so we recycle a lot of our stuff and you can see the roots are strong i never ever remove all the soil from the root ball because i think that does stress the tree i just loosen the periphery that means the side and the bottom to get it the right height and when it’s about the right size to fit the pot i stop there you are robin has a worm there those roots are quite healthy there the way to check whether the roots are live is to scratch the bark on the roots so if you scratch the bark so hopefully the roots which are alive see that is live root can you see the lovely fleshy color there that is life so that’s not a dead root now let’s try this pot i’m going to get it in there i need to take a little more off from the base i’m cutting some of the roots off from here so i haven’t removed a lot of root i’m going to take a little more off the bottom and go to pot it up so i’ll show you the finished tree so that didn’t take much work maybe about six pieces of wire some very thin wires and i’ve left that deliberately because i believe that you do get trees like that in nature so that’s quite a natural looking tree nothing wrong with that so let’s proceed to the next one that was easy now this one now like all these trees we have hundreds and hundreds of these trees on the nursery which have been growing for the last 30 years or more and this is really old age you cannot simulate this in a hurry this will have been grown on the nursery for so long that you get this beautiful gnarled effect now what is the potential or the pluses and minus of this tree like this so let’s turn it around the interesting part is there but the branches are too far away from the proper tree so this is a real problem tree ideally the bonsai should be no bigger than that that high but there are no branches there so that’s no good is it because the branches are so far away so we got to do the best we can with this material this is interesting that’s interesting this is a bit of natural dead wood natural gin what are the other possibilities so if you want to explore possibilities always turn the tree sideways upside down and see see turning the tree like that makes it fairly interesting but again the branches are too long this type of juniper it’s one of the chinensis but not the traditional chinese juniper i don’t know what the exact species is but very floppy branches and very difficult but the trunk is interesting i could do something with that so this is a possible front at this angle so that is possible so let’s work with that as the front had i been more meticulous and while the tree was growing mind you as i said we’ve got hundreds and thousands of these trees i can’t go around pouring all of them while it is growing one should really tip the ends by tipping the ends you get further bud back so you get the branches getting much closer to the main trunk so that is what should have been done but no point you know crying over spilled milk you got to make do with what we’ve got here so what we’ve got here is still potentially interesting look at that beautiful line that is a beautiful line i think we could use this as a front and make it to barbell tree again hardly any work and you’ve got the tree you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that there is beauty here already like the scot spines if you just tip the ends in one or two seasons you’ll get a lot of bud back and the tree will become much more interesting in a very short space of time so just by pruning you can see that what was almost an impossible tree has taken on quite a bit of potential i always like to stand back because when you stand back you get an overall what we call a strategic view of the tree i think this is true with a lot of situations in life if you’re too close to a subject you get myopic vision you can’t see the broader picture and this is exactly the same with bonsai if you’re always too close to the thing you don’t get an overall view now looking at it from this side this side is not so interesting you must admit this is ugly here this is not got an interesting line but if you look at it like this the trunk line is interesting this is what we call the trunk line well let’s concentrate on the top there if we concentrate on the top i think we’ve got a tree interesting tree again looking at the overall shape so as i said we are going to use that as the front in fact it’s nice every side so let’s use a round pot so i brought two micro pots drum pots this looks a bit big and because of the drum part whoever buys this tree can use whichever front they want i think that is probably about right and now little robin is going to have time of its life seeing what worms are in there and this black soil i may have mentioned to you before we use a lot of our garden compost when we sweep up the leaves and the debris from the work we do we compost it we don’t burn the leaves so this is all leaf mold mixed with mud and that’s a lovely compost for growing trees so we recycle a lot of our stuff and you can see the roots are strong so i never ever remove all the soil from the root ball because i think that does stress the tree i just loosen the periphery that means the side and the bottom to get it the right height and when it’s about the right size to fit the pot i stop there you are robin has a worm there see those roots are quite healthy there the way to check whether the roots are live is to scratch the bark on the roots so if you scratch the bark so hopefully the roots which are alive see that is live root can you see the lovely fleshy color there that is life so that’s not a dead root now let’s try this pot i’m going to get it in there i need to take a little more off on the base i’m cutting some of the roots off from here so i haven’t removed a lot of root i’m going to take a little more off the bottom and go to pot it up so i’ll show you the finished tree so that didn’t take much work maybe about six pieces of wire some very thin wires and i’ve left that deliberately because i believe that you do get trees like that in nature so that’s quite a natural looking tree nothing wrong with that so let’s proceed to the next one that was easy now this one is more difficult this is a very difficult treat take it out of the pot look at that robin robbing is having a feast today now like all these trees we have hundreds and hundreds of these trees on the nursery which have been growing for the last 30 years or more and this is really old age you cannot simulate this in a hurry this will have been grown on the nursery for so long that you get this beautiful gnarled effect now what is the potential or the pluses and minus of this tree like this so let’s turn it around the interesting part is there but the branches are too far away from the proper tree so this is a real problem tree ideally the bonsai should be no bigger than that that high but there are no branches there so that’s no good is it because the branches are so far away so we got to do the best we can with this material this is interesting that’s interesting this is a bit of natural deadwood natural gin what are the other possibilities so if you want to explore possibilities always turn the tree sideways upside down and see see turning the tree like that makes it fairly interesting but again the branches are too long this type of juniper it’s one of the chinensis but not the traditional chinese juniper i don’t know what the exact species is but very floppy branches and very difficult but the trunk is interesting i could do something with that so this is a possible front at this angle so that is possible so let’s work with that as the front had i been more meticulous and while the tree was growing mind you as i said we’ve got hundreds and thousands of these trees i can’t go around pouring all of them while it is growing one should really tip the ends by tipping the ends you get further bud back so you get the branches getting much closer to the main trunk so that is what should have been done but no point you know crying over spilled milk you’ve got to make do with what we’ve got here so what we’ve got here is still potentially interesting look at that beautiful line that is a beautiful line i think we could use this as a front and make it to viable tree again hardly any work and you’ve got the tree you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that there is beauty here already like the scot spines if you just tip the ends in one or two seasons you will get a lot of bud back and the tree will become much more interesting in a very short space of time so just selective pruning i could achieve quite a lot if i wanted to i could get rid of this branch completely but it looks interesting so i may keep it okay let’s stand back and have a look i think that is going to be a problem i don’t think we need that get rid of that keep the branches tight to the trunk this could be used maybe get rid of that get rid of that keep that tight jingles possibly gin that so just by pruning you can see that what was almost an impossible tree has taken on quite a bit of potential i always like to stand back because when you stand back you get an overall what we call a strategic view of the tree i think this is true with a lot of situations in life if you’re too close to a subject you get myopic vision you can’t see the broader picture and this is exactly the same with bonsai if you’re always too close to the thing you don’t get an overall view now looking at it from this side this side is not so interesting you must admit this is ugly here this is not quite an interesting line but if you look at it like this the trunk line is interesting this is what we call the trunk line well let’s concentrate on the top there if we concentrate on the top i think we’ve got a tree interesting tree again looking at the overall shape so i’m carrying on now and all i’m going to do is selectively prune and i feel that all it needs is very tiny bit of wiring and we will be able to get the effects that we desire see this one is going naturally there so i don’t need to do anything there i think this branch at the back is hanging nicely so i’ll wire those two and arrange it flat so all all i’m doing is really wiring all the branches so you can video a bit of this but after that i won’t show you much more because it’s very mundane stuff there are no major decisions to take all i can say is that this particular variety of juniper one of the chinensis but because of the very floppy branches the trick is to put wire on it so that it can support itself but because of this very bowsy sort of floppy nature it’s got a character of its own you know and i know that there are customers who don’t like to wire too much not because they’re lazy it’s just that they like the look of a natural tree so i would say i’ll just try a bit of ginning here and there let me see what happens if i gin the top of this turning a bit of this tuning all these long branches that i cut the foliage off if i gin them you can see they can become quite nice so the final shots were will be of these trees potted up even that can begin so a lot of ginning to be done i don’t know what to do with that again this tree could be put into a mica pot again because it’s got the literati character and that’s it i’m just observing it’s although it’s early in the year you see the squirrels have already started bearing the acorns in the soil and we get these new oak trees sprouting up everywhere and again tease the soil put it in a pot not magic i really shouldn’t be showing you this because most of you will have experience to do it yourself now this particular tree i’ve used a mixture of all sorts of funny aggregates this is that light tag material you know that expanded clear aggregate so whatever soil is available i just use one little tip i’ll just show you i usually like to stand them on pots if you stand your tree upside down on a pot it makes it easier to tease the roots so look at a lovely root when you have such a lot of root you can safely take some of it off although i always believe that if a tree is growing well and the roots fit the pot don’t take all of it off you can take some of it off but you don’t have to take the proverbial one-third or more i’m just taking enough to make it fit comfortably in the pot such a lot of lovely root and i will put it in this pot at that angle and i won’t show you how to do that because that is really simple so the next shot will be of these trees potted up we have now completed or partly completed this common juniper formal upright and josh my volunteer has very kindly mossed it up making sure that some of the roots are shown look at the beautiful moss effect look at all the beautiful moss so this is the tree and i’m going to just show you some refinements that need to be done as i said this is going to be my preferred front because this root system here looks more presentable than the other side this side some people may like these exposed roots but i don’t like this exposed root so because of that i prefer to use this as the front now the branches are coming down nicely there are one or two things i want to point out because this is a rather unusual tree i decided to keep this long branch because i commented that in nature you do get trees with the odd brands like when the top dies then the leader tries to grow that way so i’m trying to simulate nature this one is an branch that means it really shouldn’t be there i could bend it down there but what does it do it does nothing so i think i could do away with that so if i do away with that i will make a little gin by cutting that and then breaking the branch and then doing that that gets rid of that problem okay so got rid of that now the other little problem is this gin here it is very low it seems out of place with the rest of the gin and also it’s sprouting upwards rather than going down if i use the steaming method which i will show you on another occasion you can bend the gin going down like that so that would look better so this how this tree has turned out and the brushing of all this josh has spent a couple of hours just brushing with a bright wire brush and look at all that debris that comes from the bark so just by brushing we use a very heavy wire brush this is used for cleaning metal rust before you do welding or you do painting nothing special about this broad brush you can buy it from a hardware shop so this is the bark that comes out when you brush this so this is this tree complete and well i like it i hope you do too now let me show you the other one now this tree is really unusual but if you remember what i said it is such a difficult tree the main problem is that this piece is very very straight what would you do with it if i were to chop it here because it’s a conifer this whole thing would die because if you wanted to butt back you always have to keep green which we call the sap pullers the green pulls the sap to make the plant grow and then you will get sprouting from here but if you chop it there there’s nothing to pull the sap up so this part will die this tree is very interesting here this bit is really nice if only we could get a tree this short and have branches there it would be perfect but we don’t live in a perfect world and this very straight bit there’s a bit of natural sherry there so that’s interesting so it’s more or less like a literati type tree and to add to the complexity you’ve got this ugly branch going there so that spoilers it and then you’ve got this one there this although josh has taken trouble to remove the bark and get a very nice natural driftwood this is not artificially created completely natural and if you look at this tree because it’s seoul all these cherries this all natural maybe the squirrels have been chewing the bark so all this is natural so this tree is quite nice this way as well i’m not saying it’s a perfect tree it’s just that these are some of the impossible trees that virtually has more than no chance of making a bonsai but for someone who likes a tree that looks that shape it is interesting i would say it is my cup of tea but we’ve made something out of nothing so there you are i like to show that there is no such thing as an impossible tree now you can all argue that you could get rid of this bit get rid of this bit and just stick with that bit or if you wanted to you could just make this a short gin here and just keep this bit there are so many possibilities if you were to buy this tree off me you can do what you like to it but it just shows that there are many many possibilities to interesting trees like this so there you are that’s another exercise in creating something out of nothing so i hope you’ve enjoyed this video showing the two junipers [Music] you

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