This past weekend, Bay Island Bonsai held its 14th annual exhibit at the Lake Merritt Garden Center in Oakland, California. For those of you who attended – thanks for coming! I hope you enjoyed the show. For those who couldn’t make it, I’ll share some of the highlights. We’ll start, today, with some scale junipers.
The Taiwan juniper below has been trained as bonsai for a long time. Its primary feature is its twisting double-trunk. Good movement and interesting deadwood are the most prized characteristics of juniper bonsai – this specimen has both.
Far more complex is the Western juniper below. Its trunk tells the story of the harsh environment in which it grew – well worth a close look.
The Sierra juniper below is off to a great start. All of the branches are in place and in a few years the tree’s fullness will provide a great backdrop for its trunk and deadwood.
This next juniper tree is massive. I’ve watched, over the past 10 years or so, the transformation from Sierra to Shimpaku, and have been surprised at how quickly the tree has grown from a small number of initial grafts. Time will make the tree even more impressive.
Shimpaku grafted on Sierra juniper
The shimpaku below is the product of over 90 grafts! The effort has not gone unnoticed – in 2008 the tree earned the National Bonsai Award at the first National Bonsai Exhibit in Rochester, New York.
Shimpaku grafted on San Jose
Interesting deadwood and impressively dense foliage characterize the Sierra juniper below. The tree makes a good case for how well Sierra foliage can be developed.
A medium-sized Sierra juniper bonsai – something sought after far more often than found.
A small shimpaku fed by a slender lifeline – the foliage is perfectly healthy and full.
On our way to visit Ishii’s nursery last fall, Akio Kondo took Boon, Peter and myself to visit one of his customers – Mr. Kita. Kita has a small, but impressive, bonsai collection. Trees like the juniper below.
Impressive, yes, but was this the front? The other side, too, has great features.
The other side
Here are some more shots of the same tree – any ideas about the front?
I believe the second photo is the current front, but it’s clear that the tree has plenty of interest points.
What was amazing about Kita’s garden was the number of trees of comparable quality. On a nearby bench I noticed one of the first great junipers I saw on my 1999 visit to Japan – a Kokufu Prize winner. If you have the book from the 73rd Kokufu exhibit, check out page 21 – the tree looks quite different now. It had been unhealthy ahead of that exhibit but has since regained much of its health.
Kokufu Prize winning shimpaku
With very few exceptions, the trees in Kita’s garden were in great shape – visiting was like touring a small bonsai museum. Here are a few of the other junipers in the garden – I’ll share some of Kita’s other trees on Friday.
Boon and shimpaku
I got around to wiring my Western juniper at a recent Bay Island Bonsai workshop. It doesn’t look like much now, but the main branches are in place and need only to lengthen and fill in. Here’s the before and after.
After removing the main branch and widening the shari (see “Refining a Western Juniper”)
After wiring the main branches
After finishing the juniper, I thinned out a small satsuki azalea that had grown full during the growing season. I removed a few long shoots and thinned new shoots to two when several grew from the same location.
Azalea – before thinning
After thinning – new planting angle
I think this tree was previously planted at a similar angle. The first branch is quite large and hard to bend. Tilting the tree adds interest to the trunk and improves the angle of the first branch. Although the current pot is appropriate for the tree, I’m ready for a change. Time to start looking for a new pot!
I’m happy to share with you today some of the junipers on display at the Redwood Empire Bonsai Society’s 29th annual show in Santa Rosa, CA this past weekend.
The Sierra juniper below belongs to Deadwood Bonsai’s Ned Lycett. Lycett is an active collector, responsible for some of the really good junipers in the area. This Sierra is a beauty.
Sierra juniper – in training since 2005
Trunk – deadwood detail
Collected Sierras tend to have significant trunks. The Sierras at this show were no exception.
Sierra juniper in training since 1995 – great balance
Sierra juniper – informal upright
Sierra juniper – in training since 1995
California junipers were also well represented at the exhibit. The tree below is very characteristic of the California growth habit with its strong twist and deadwood “fin” leading to a full array of smaller branches.
Somewhat less common are Californias with a lighter feeling like the specimen below.
California juniper display
Rarer still are small, powerful California junipers.
Mighty California juniper – in training since 1985
Many, but not all, of the shimpaku in local shows are grafted specimens. As such, they can take a variety of forms.
Old shimpaku – in training for 40 years
Large cascade shimpaku
Shimpaku – in training since 1989
Shimpaku grafted on prostrata juniper – in training since 1994
The exhibit also included several procumbens junipers, including the older specimens pictured below.
More trees from REBS’ show coming soon!