If I took a 1-gallon procumbens juniper and grew it for 15 years, I’d have something like the tree below.
Procumbens juniper pre-bonsai
This tree has been grown at a nursery specializing in pre-bonsai – trees with which we can create bonsai. The trunk has good size and movement, and there are plenty of branches to work with. With several years of effort, the tree can be developed to the point where it could be shown at a number of club exhibits.
Trees like this are fantastic for learning basic bonsai skills, and can help answer questions like:
- Can I identify an appropriate style for the tree?
- Can I find the best front?
- Can I select primary branches that suite the selected style for the tree?
- Can I create branch pads?
- Can I select an appropriate container for the tree?
- Can I learn basic wiring techniques?
Anyone curious about finding answers to these questions would do well to work on pre-bonsai of similar caliber.
As seen from the other side
Lots of branches
Because the tree is relatively young, I wouldn’t expect to see it in a regional bonsai exhibit, even with well-crafted branches and deadwood features. At more selective exhibits, I expect to see trees with greater age and character.
That said, well-developed pre-bonsai offer great learning opportunities beyond what one can pick up when working with young nursery stock.
1-gallon nursery stock and 15 year-old pre-bonsai
For those interested in developing rough material with an eye toward exhibiting the tree, starting with older material can be a good option – the topic for our next post.