Ever find you have a tree or two to prepare for an exhibit and only a limited amount of time to do the work?
When my time’s limited, I start with the basics. The basics, if you’re working on a juniper in summer, include cleaning up the tree’s silhouette, removing algae from deadwood, preparing the surface of the soil, and cleaning the pot.
Procumbens juniper – 20″
Junipers are appreciated for the movement of the trunk and the deadwood. Even when the movement is subtle, it’s an important feature to highlight. When the bark is grey and the deadwood is covered with algae, it can be hard to appreciate these features.
Before the clean-up – it’s hard to discern lifeline from deadwood
Looking up into the tree’s interior, it’s easy to see lots of dead branches and more green-colored deadwood.
Dead shoots and green deadwood
Where to begin? With the moss growing on the base of the trunk. Once the moss is out of the way I can better see the lifeline and clean the deadwood beneath.
Starting to remove the moss
After removing the moss
Now I can get to work on the deadwood. I wetted the deadwood and scrubbed it with a toothbrush.
Cleaning deadwood with a toothbrush
I found the bristles soft so I switched to a brush with stiff bristles. As the brush work was slow, I reached for the spot gun.
Spot guns are great for cleaning live and dead wood on bonsai.
Blasting away build-up on deadwood
After rinsing off the trunk and letting it dry, the trunk looked a lot better.
After cleaning deadwood with spot gun
The jin in the tree’s interior also brightened up.
Base of the trunk from the right side
Next I applied lime-sulfur to the deadwood in a 1:1 ratio with water.
Applying lime-sulfur with brush
While the lime-sulfur dried, I got to work on the lifeline. Using a spoon-like tool, I pulled away flakes of grey bark to reveal the ruddy-colored bark beneath.
Removing the outer layer of bark
Removing some of the last flakes of bark.
After scraping away what I could, I used a stiff nylon brush to clean remaining debris.
Brushing the lifeline
With the trunk clean, I could move on the the foliage.
After cleaning deadwood and lifeline
Because the juniper was so full, many of the interior shoots were dead.
Dead shoots in the tree’s interior
I removed the dead shoots by hand and thinned a few healthy shoots. I also shortened some of the shoots that protruded beyond the tree’s silhouette.
Trimming a long shoot
When cleaning up foliage on junipers, the most important shoots to remove are those that hang downward. Doing so will better define the branch pads and give the tree a more refined feeling.
After a quick pass, the silhouette was somewhat better defined.
After thinning and removing downward-growing shoots
From here I can quickly clean the pot and add moss as a top dressing. I’ll also make minor adjustments to the branches with the wire that’s already in place.
Why, one might ask, prepare a tree for exhibit in summer?
This Weekend – REBS 33rd Annual Bonsai Exhibit
The Redwood Empire Bonsai Society is hosting their 33rd annual exhibit this weekend at the Santa Rosa Veterans Building in Santa Rosa, California. Hours are 10-5 Saturday and 10-4 Sunday. The exhibit is the largest in Northern California and the vendor area is one of the best in the area. I’ll be there with pots, trees, tools and supplies. Hope to see you there!
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