Last Monday was the first Toronto Bonsai Club meeting of the year. The president has asked us to bring along the trees we’ve won from the summer auction. I won two trees, so I brought one of them. The one that I just styled is too heavy to bring along, so I brought the smaller juniper. I thought the purpose of bringing the trees are just for display, but it turns out Carlos wanted a critique. So I ended up getting a critique of the juniper. The critique usually starts off with “tell me about your tree, what’s the front?”. I indicated that it’s a Blauii, and with the new front where the apex was leaning towards the viewer. Carlos then proceeded to correct me, indicating that the tree is actually a Shimpaku Juniper. John Biel also vouched for the same conclusion given the foliage does not carry a blue hue (as is the case for Blauii Junipers). I was pleasantly surprised, since Shimpaku Juniper is the one species I was looking to acquire for a very long time, and to win two Shimpakus in one auction was doubly amazing.
Carlos then critique the tree with me. He wanted to cut off branches right way, but I personally prefer to have a sober moment with the tree myself, then perform the cutting myself. Below is the new front that Carlos sees in the tree. This new front has two benefits:
- The tree is leaning towards the viewer.
- The “pigeon belly” near the bottom of the tree is hidden from sight.
This new front has the tree slanting forward and to the right a lot, making it a slanting style, since the apex of the tree is not aligned vertically to the base of the tree. I was adamant about not doing any work that night, so I simply took his suggestions and went home.
In the coming days, I inspected the tree more. Gathering what I know of the tree, and closely inspecting the tree more, I began working on the lower branches, and worked my way up the tree. Obviously the top was too heavy, and needed some foliage removal, but since it’s closing to fall time, I’m reluctant to make any major cuts, and just reduced by pinching out foliage which did not fit the silhouette. I found that the branches are much more malleable during the early morning rather than late in the afternoon. I’m guessing the sun shining on it all day hardens the branches. After a few (around 7 or so?) hours of work, the tree is styled.
I decided to take an angle that’s slightly more vertical, where the apex do line up with the base of the tree. I will be removing the lower left branches, as both of them are too close the main branch in proximity and looks like bar branches. I might also consider taking off the top 2-3 inches to reduce the size of the crown, and to make the tree more compact. The tree definitely looks too leggy right now. These are all work to be done in the coming June when I’ll also be repotting this Shimpaku in either a round or oval pot.