Rocky Mountain Juniper Repotting…

…but not recently! We did this repotting at the end of March, 2014, and like the last couple of posts, I’m playing catch up with things that we did long ago…

The styling of this juniper was featured in a 2012 post:

Enjoy the photos!


Bobby removing the last parts of the box the Rocky Mountain juniper was in. Bobby Curttright is my apprentice, and for those of you who haven’t been following my blog very long, he’s just past the one year mark studying here.


Excavating part of the roots that had some water-retentive mountain soil. If it’s very fine or has organics in there it can hold a lot of moisture, and then roots don’t grow in those areas very well.


Bobby and Konnor hamming it up. I don’t recall if Bobby was intending to bow to the juniper or not. (Were you? )


Beginning to brace the tree in the pot with bamboo shafts.


The camera unfortunately focused on the deadwood. Oh well. Sometimes this blogging thing seems primarily about showing off my poor photography technique.


Part of the juniper deadwood was used to brace the back of the tree. This operation took us a while. Some are finickier physics lessons than others, and you can end up with tight shoulders having forgotten to breathe for the last couple of hours, and starving on top of it.


Konnor sawing a piece of bamboo. This is my only shot of the front of the tree in this series. I tipped the tree to the right a bit, and tilted it back, so that the tree has better harmony in its jins than the original front and inclination that I had chosen. Inevitably with some trees, such as this one, there is a price to be paid for doing so. The tree comes closer to a ‘C’ design, which is generally to be avoided. I thought the benefits in this case were worth it…maybe not, but I’ve got years before the next repot and having to make that decision again.


Chopsticking, chopsticking, and even some stick chopping oh my!


This tree had grown around a chunk of granite, and now it’s caught in the deadwood at the base. So we left that in there. Actually it helps the tree look more stable.


Finishing touches.


Yes, I do some bonsai too… Going for the Michael Jackson look here. I’m not sure it’s working.

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  1. Mike Saul says:

    We never got an image of the final product! It looked wonderful with Michael Jackson…

  2. Ray says:

    Nice Juniper!! Looking forward to seeing it.


  3. Great tree, loving that deadwood…. and you totally nail the MJ look 😛 haha

  4. Brian VF says:

    Possibly my new favorite RMJ. Beautiful.

  5. Ronald Scarborough says:

    Is the deadwood part of the tree or has the juniper been attached to driftwood?

    • crataegus says:

      It’s all one collected tree. The large jins are all connected to the base, they’ve been eroding in the wild for many decades, and the live vein is spiraling up the left side which had some shari on it and some smaller jins as well. All one chunk of wood. Which, at this scale, is rather rare. Much easier to find the 5-8′ trees out there than really old bonsai-sized trees.

  6. bonsaibible says:

    That is a super beautiful Juniper, you guys have done some great work with it I see.

  7. For Rocky Mountain juniper do you use the same soil as shimpaku, or is it a bit less retentive (less akadama)?

    • crataegus says:

      I use about the same. Which is about 1/3 akadama, 2/3 pumice (you can sub lava for part of the pumice), which is already fairly ‘dry’. Given the good growth we see with recently collected mountain trees with 100% pumice, I may shift some plants, mostly conifers, to that.

      I’m using less and less akadama every year. Partly I don’t wish to be married to something that could disappear as easily as a scribble of someone’s pen in an office, and partly like everyone else I’m seeking a cheaper, more local solution. Pumice is a start, but it may need a few tweaks.

  8. Marc says:

    Sweet Tree!
    Great to see Bobby earning those stripes too…

  9. Steve Varland says:

    Mr, Michael What an Impressive tree! The pot really seems to anchor it, (from an untrained eyes perspective). Speaking of anchoring, I can see a seasonal repotting class titled “Pot retention engineering” finally I don’t think Bobby is bowing, everyone knows you never look a grizzly bear in the eye. see you soon, Steve

  10. Andrew Legg (Cape Town, South Africa) says:

    A lovely tree Michael. It somehow looks so uncontrived as opposed to many of it’s deadwood brothers out there. Great work to all involved.

  1. […] Rocky Mountain juniper – see the repotting […]

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