When Akio Kondo came for a visit this summer he worked on a lot of trees. My favorite is a semi-cascade Western Juniper.
Front as styled by Akio Kondo
Although the tree has only been in training for a few years, it has a very bright future. The movement is attractive and the deadwood is spectacular. It will be a boon to any exhibit in which it appears.
Its first exhibit was earlier this year in Bay Island Bonsai’s Exhibit of Fine Bonsai. Michael Hagedorn styled the tree for this outing and it looked great. Previously Boon had worked on the tree, carving the right side of the trunk to add interest where previously the deadwood had been smooth.
Over the past five years, I’ve seen many collected Westerns become amazing bonsai. If collectors can continue to find such great specimens, we’ll have a wonderful generation of them to display in coming years. Even then, however, this tree will stand out among them.
Whether viewed from the sides or from above, the tree appears to be styled like many other bonsai. What makes the work special can be appreciated better from below.
Collected trees rarely have the branches necessary to create an attractive silhouette. Rather, they are frequently long and leggy. And until new buds can be developed closer to the trunk, much bending is required to get these trees into shape. This juniper is a good example of this. As you can see in the photo below, long branches are bent back and forth to bring the foliage closer to the trunk. Guy wires hold the more extreme bends in place – well applied wires take care of the rest.
Wiring detail – note at least 3 guy wires
When new buds pop and young shoots develop, the longer of these branches will be cut. This will help the tree develop the kind of character we appreciate in bonsai. In the mean time, the tree will look great thanks to good wiring technique.
Kondo’s work on this tree is some of the more beautiful and creative I’ve seen. While it’s hard to appreciate in photographs, it’s surprisingly compelling in person. And it’s great encouragement for me to do my wiring homework.
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