This past winter I bought a juniper, procumbens ‘Nana,’ that was already well established as a bonsai. I repotted it soon after taking it home and have been letting it grow freely ever since. I removed about half of the old soil when I repotted, but until I remove the rest, I won’t expect the tree to be as vigorous as it can be in soil that drains better.
To prepare the tree for wiring, I recently thinned the foliage. I also removed a branch at the suggestion of Akio Kondo and extended the shari a bit. Here’s what the tree looked like before and after thinning.
Front – before
Front – after
Left side – before
Left side – after
Right side – before
Right side – after
Back – before
Back – after
As you can see, the shape of the tree didn’t change at all, but the overall density is lower than before. This is especially clear when the tree is viewed from above.
View from above
Next, I jinned a large back branch. The process was simple – I removed most of the secondary and tertiary branching and peeled away the bark on the remaining stubs.
After stripping bark from the end of the jinned branch
It’s always easier to remove the bark when you make jin as postponing the work gives the bark time to dry out, making it much harder to remove.
After stripping the bark at the base of the branch
The jinned branch from below
This was a natural time to extend the shari, so Boon marked areas for me to work on.
Red marks indicate where the new shari will be
I tend to take a lightweight approach to carving deadwood on bonsai. Shari often occurs naturally above and below dead branches as sap can no longer flow through these areas. The few areas I opened up were all adjacent to already dead areas.
Extending the shari above a dead area
Extending shari below the jinned branch
Extending the shari below a dead branch
Widening the shari below dead branches
From the front
I’ll usually let the deadwood dry for up to a year or two before treating it with lime sulfur. Waiting will help me achieve a more natural effect as lime sulfur doesn’t soak in very well to new deadwood. I’ll say more about the thinning process Friday.
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