Wiring Shimpaku Juniper

Earlier this year, I’ve decided to air layer the Shimpaku Juniper. I didn’t do much to the tree other than repotting it into a bigger pot. The Shimpaku has since put out a lot of roots, so I’m pretty sure the tree up top will survive. I’ve decided to work on the bottom tree a bit, such that it’s not too unsightly. Although the branches still maintained some of the form I put in a few years back, it needs some refinement.

Shimpaku Before Wiring

I wired the branches and moved the them into place. The goal is to form foliage pads that allow the viewers eyes to follow the trees movement to the apex.

Shimpaku After Wiring

I’m pretty satisfy with this arrangement.  The composition has both bones (branches) and meat (foliage pads). Shimpakus branches don’t thicken very fast, so I can leave the wires on the tree for quite a while, probably revisit it again next Spring.

Leafing Out Already!

I was a bit worry that the berry tree I defoliated two weeks ago wouldn’t put out another set of leaves, since I just repotted it this year. But it’s already leafing out! I look forward to getting another round of ramification this year. I’m also hoping the new sets of leaves will be much smaller than before. I’m keeping the tree in full sun, such that it the leaves can be kept as small as possible. Now that the leaves are out, I’ll hold out on the fertilizer, again, to help with a smaller leave size.

Berry Tree Leafing Out

Brush Cherry Forest Planting

I’ve had these brush cherry cuttings for a long time.  They’re growing into each other, and quickly running out of room. I figured it’s a good time to do something with them, so that they don’t just look like one big bush.

Brush Cherry

I purchased a forest planting pot from a backyard sale earlier this year, and it looks like the perfect pot for the job. Planting all these trees into the pot will be difficult using conventional means to secure the trees, since the holes are most probably never at the spots where you want to secure the trees. Rather than anchoring the trees into the holes, anchor a wire mesh to the pot, then anchor the trees to the mesh. Ultimately it might be difficult to get the mesh out of the roots once it grows in, but I’ll worry about that when faced with that problem in the future.

Pot with Mesh Base

Now I’ll sort the trees from smallest to largest. I will be creating a forest planting with two planting groups. The centre of the each group will be the largest and second largest tree respectively. The rest of the trees will be placed around the main tree of each group. After placing every tree in their rightful place, I tied each tree in place and start filling in the pot with soil.

After some more wiggling with my chopstick to get all the soil to fill each nook and cranny, the forest planting is complete. I’ll just leave it out of the sun for two weeks to help it recover from the disturbed roots.



As the healthy trees are putting out new growths, I figured it’s a good time to defoliate the trees to allow it to put through another set of growths. Which will add one more season of ramification, and hopefully produce smaller leaves. I decided to defoliate my larches first. I basically pulled out all hardened leaves, forcing the tree to put out a new set of leaves. This opens up the canopy and allows light to reach the inner parts of the tree, to produce back-budding and new growth.

I also worked on my berry bush, it’s ramifying quite nicely, squeezing in another round of ramification will make it look more impressive. I left the very small leaves intact, the larger hardened leaves are all taken out. I’m now leaving it in full sun to help its new buds pop.

Initial Styling of Apple

This apple tree was acquired from a farm April 2016, after a year in the ground, I’ve now got it in a colander. The new buds on the apple tree are very prone to aphid attacks. So I wanted to reduce the foliage a bit, and to find the actual tree in the bush.

After inspecting the tree in detail, my original plan of having it as a windswept tree won’t work well. This is due to the fact that it has a very straight trunk with no taper. I’ve decided instead to just make it a slanted tree. The trunk will display pretty amazing tapering, and I’ll end up with a big stump. A big stump is good, since I can always grow out the branches, and the branches will be of proportionate size, making it more compelling as an ancient tree.

I first marked up the cut line using chalk, then proceeded to cutting with a reciprocating saw. The saw makes quick work of the pruning, but one would have to be careful not to let the blade run astray.

After some big cuts, I applied cutting paste to the exposed cambium, then just let it sit on the branch to recover. Doing heavy pruning in mid summer is probably not a good idea… but I have a feeling the tree will handle it just fine. Come next spring, I’ll do more pruning to whip it more into shape.

Acquired My First Cedar

During this month’s TBS meeting, there was a silent auction for the trees owned by a member who wishes to get out of the hobby. All the other trees looked pretty wimpy to me, and I ended up bidding for a cedar. The cedar had some interesting shari, but the branch arrangements was very 2-dimensional. There were no front or back branches at all, all the branches were extending left and right. The tree’s starting bid was $45, and gradually got bid up to $75 by several new members… At the end, I got the tree, because I saw the bonsai in the tree.

Cedar From Auction

I didn’t care much about a formal upright tree. I also didn’t like how the shari was covering the live vain. So, I decided to pick another side as the front.

Cedar with Interesting Deadwood - New Front

This side showed more taper, and exposes the live vain for the eye to follow up the tree. I still wasn’t too interested in a trunk that goes straight up. I began digging around the base of the tree to look at the roots, and found that due to negligence, the base of the deadwood has rotted away.

Obviously I can’t have deadwood that just protrudes out of no where, so my only option was to hide the rotted base. I contemplated using a rock, but the evidence of human intervention would be too great. I ultimately decided to slant the tree to hide the rotting base. To do so, I had to take the tree out of the pot, and repot it into a colander.

I started with taking the tree out of the pot. I was surprised to find that the tree was very pot bound — another sign of negligence by the previous owner. After some persuading and prying, I finally got the tree out, and started to rake/comb out the roots. After working through the badly decomposed soil, I found myself with little to no roots at the base of the tree, but with long running roots all around the root ball. I never saw a tree with such long roots before, it’ll be quite a task trying to reduce the root ball back towards the base over the next few years. Since it’s already quite late in the season, I decided to not do anything more to the roots to reduce the amount of shock to the tree.

I simply curled up the roots, and planted the tree into the colander, properly securing with wire. I ensured I planted it in an angle such that it’ll hide the rotting deadwood at the base.

The movement already looks much more interesting with a spire that juts out to the left. I then proceeded to work with the branches I intend to keep. The branches were very straight, with no interesting movement, so I got my raffia ready, and started to do some extensive bending. The lower most branch was already very brittle, and any bending of it would result in a broken branch. Therefore, I decided to let it be for now, and then make it into a jin in a year or two.

The second branch can be persuading to come down along the trunk, and to counter-balance the movement to the left. The third branch can be reduced and provide some greenery to the left, but I got to ensure it doesn’t become too overpowering, because there is already substantial movement to the left. The forth branch will be my new leader, and I will be building an apex off the branches (eventually). Everything else above the forth branch will be turned into a jin once the tree is healthy enough.

Cedar with Main Branches Rearranged

In order to allow more light to reach the inner buds, and eventually promote inner growths, I proceeded to reduce the foliage by pinching/cutting. I also put on some lime sulfur to the deadwood to help with preserve the wood. I’ve done a lot to this tree, now it’s just to give it lots of light, and let it recover from the abuse. Hopefully all the branches will survive and I can start cutting back the unwanted growths next growing season. I’ve also read that it’s best to prune in August, so that the tree doesn’t lose the foliage you want to keep. I’ll observe the health of the tree before deciding whether I want to prune back this August, it might be a bit premature.

Cedar with Small Branches Rearranged


Japanese Maple Gets Partial Defoliation

This Japanese Maple quickly leaved out after I pruned it early Spring, it’s now very full, and no light was going into the inner areas of the tree. Although I trimmed off the second node of growth the minute it came out, the internodes on the tree is still very inconsistent. Some were very long, yet others remained short.

Japanese Maple all Leaved Out

I decided to remove one of the two leaves at each node, to allow for more light to reach the inner areas of the tree, in turn, promoting new buds to form. It’s now much more airy than before, in a few weeks, I’ll be seeing more buds forming close to the trunk. Hopefully those new growths will have short internodes, and I can do away with some of the longer branches.

Japanese Maple After Partial Defoliation