The first tree in this photo essay is a whimsical juniper that used to be a needle juniper. Although my client enjoyed the needle juniper, it wasn’t doing very well where he lived and was getting weaker. I gave him a few options, and he decided we’d ‘change the clothes’ of the tree, so to speak, and make it happier. Essentially, we made it into something we could do bonsai work with, and not just eek along and ‘keep it going’, which isn’t really in the bonsai textbook of desired results.
Three years ago I grafted itoigawa scions on it. It was roughly styled about a year and a half ago, the whole tree created from the original four small veneer/cleft grafts. I have mixed feelings about itoigawa, to be honest, but for very small trees or those with some delicacy about them it does seem appropriate.
Itoigawa, if you’re going to go that route, is a very strongly growing plant (one of my issues with it). Some varieties of itoigawa are so strong that the branches can very rapidly get overly thick, and will soon look rather muscular and out of character with the foliage. So controlling the energy and growth on this type of juniper is particularly important.
Also, at the end of this photo essay, I include a different grafted tree, with a very different feeling…it’s a ponderosa pine that we grafted black pine onto. Not that ponderosa pine isn’t an easy tree to grow, it’s just that my client doesn’t like ponderosa very much…so that too was grafted. Different preferences for different people. Enjoy the photos!