I began work on an old San Jose juniper bonsai this week. The tree had been trained as bonsai years ago but never reached a refined state. For the past several years, the tree was watered and fed but not pruned or repotted.
San Jose juniper
Before making any decisions about how to style the tree, I begin by removing the dead foliage and trimming away unnecessary shoots. Here’s the cleaned up tree from the front.
And from the back.
This is where the main work begins. Because the tree hadn’t been repotted in several years, I wanted to get the tree into some fresh soil. After beginning work on the roots, I found that half of the rootball had been bare-rooted the last time it was repotted. This made the work relatively easy. I removed the old soil, adjusted the angle a bit and planted the tree in an unglazed pot.
Where to go from here? The main option I’m considering is grafting shimpaku foliage, either kishu or itiogawa. Although San Jose foliage can be nice when kept in its juvenile form, I think the gentle movement of the trunk could be a good fit for shimpaku foliage.
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