Revisit: Shimpaku/Rocky Cascade

Revisits are good for showing how bonsai change over time. It’s been four years since we saw this juniper, years in which it’s been trudging along keeping its head down—quite literally, it’s a cascade—and yet making visible strides during those years, too.

As a quick recap, the trunk of this tree is Rocky Mountain Juniper and it was grafted with two veneer grafts of coarse Shimpaku. This was 10 years ago. The original post covered the day the Rocky Mountain foliage was cut off and it had to fend for itself with Shimpaku: Day of Yikes.

Since 2014, the date of that first post, the tree has been wired several times, and is already showing some of the soft mounds of foliage that Shimpaku is justly famous for. Now many of the branches don’t need wire at all.

The speed at which one can make a fully realized bonsai from a few 2″ shoots grafted onto the branches of an old trunk does clearly underline why for the Japanese this is the money tree.

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The day the juniper’s Rocky foliage was cut off, in 2012, three years after grafting.

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Wired for the second time in 2014.

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And in early 2019, seven years since the Rocky Mountain foliage was cut off. Juniper is one of the fastest developing genera of any used in bonsai.

16 Comments

  1. Ray says:

    It’s a beauty Michael

  2. Linda Warren says:

    Michael, love the tree!
    Could you explain the reasoning for changing the pot from square to round?
    Thank you.
    — Linda

    • crataegus says:

      This one is hard to voice, the reasoning behind that pot choice. I think this would look ok in a square, actually, though one that is a bit smaller than the one we had. I think the round pot allowed a mound to be part of the composition, which was an organic, soft feeling I wanted, and it completes the shape of the pot, too, making it spherical. For square pots this doesn’t feel right, to mound them. The tree is so strong that I felt it needed a soft counterpoint. It’s case by case though, some very strong, visually active trees definitely feel better in strong, square or rectangular containers.

  3. David Wheeler says:

    AMAZING……I think it has a great deal with ‘who’ is doing the ‘aging care’………

    On Fri, Feb 22, 2019 at 7:11 AM michael hagedorn wrote:

    > crataegus posted: “Revisits are good for showing how bonsai change over > time. It’s been four years since we saw this juniper, years in which > it’s been trudging along keeping its head down—quite literally, it’s a > cascade—and yet making visible strides during those years,” >

  4. steveohman says:

    What a
    tree…great transformation!!

  5. Bruce Williams says:

    I’m very new at all of this. Can anyone tell me why the Japanese love trees that are a graft of one variety on to another? It seems many are not fond of a well done Phoenix graft. does it have to do with the level of horticultural skill involved with the species graft?

    • crataegus says:

      Hello Bruce, you are correct, the Japanese are not fond of a Phoenix graft (a whip ‘grafted’ onto a deadwood trunk), but are generally ok with live tissue grafted onto live tissue. Even in Japan there are detractors to any kind of grafting, but in general, however, scion grafting is accepted and trees that have been grafted can win major awards. When we say a ‘grafted’ tree one always assumes it’s live tissue to live tissue. A Phoenix grafted tree is considered a fake tree and would never win an award or be well considered in Japan. However one can certainly make up one’s own mind about such things.
      It is not so difficult to graft many species and that is generally not taken into account regarding the appreciation of how the tree was designed.

      • Bruce Williams says:

        “It is not so difficult to graft many species and that is generally not taken into account regarding the appreciation of how the tree was designed.”

        So, you’re saying even though the level of skill it may take to do grafts on many species is less than I might judge it do be, Where on the trunk the grafted limbs are placed is held as matter that takes a high degree of experience, skill and aesthetics.

      • crataegus says:

        That was a clumsy sentence I wrote, indeed… but yes, what one does with the graft is more highly considered than the graft itself.

  6. endsurg says:

    Do you change your fertilization during this time to encourage more rapid growth?

    • crataegus says:

      Not much, just usual moderate fertilization. Old tree. But now it’s fertilized a bit less, so there’s been a bit of shifting recently but only because the tree is reaching maturity, which one would do with any older bonsai.

  7. Bobby says:

    That was a really fun one to wire up, I now have a Rocky Mt Juniper that has fully been converted to Shimpaku with scions taken from this tree. Grafted it in 2014, cut all native RMJ off in 2017, and it will be getting its second wiring very soon.

  8. David Johnson says:

    Wonderful result. Quite inspiring.

  9. Is all that resulting foliage still from just the 2 grafts ??? I imagine so, otherwise I feel you would have mentioned addnl grafts… So, in that case, here is a resounding WOW and HUZZAH !!! 🙂

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