Rocky Mountain Juniper: Alternative Methods

The styling of any yamadori juniper assumes the bending of old wood, and only in unusual circumstances can one avoid this. The tree featured here, collected by Randy Knight, was one such outlier.

During the early years after collection some young shoots grew inside and near the trunk. I spoke with my client about an alternative styling method—one that would take us a few more years—and he was OK with that and said he enjoyed trying something different.

To lead the tree in the direction we wanted to go, I pruned back the exterior branches to encourage the small shoots in the inside. Within a year we had foot long extensions. These were rough-wired into approximate future branch placements.

Today all the large branches that one sees on this yamadori were wired with no larger than size 14 copper wire when they were young whips, with no heavy bends of old wood. All the original living branches were made into jin. (My client loves carving and spent days pulling fiber on it, really impressive job.)

Again, this is a rare option that doesn’t land on our plates very often but perhaps one to keep in the back of one’s toolkit.

A big Rocky Mountain Juniper, Juniperus scopulorum, 33″ high from pot lip, styled from small shoots rather than heavy bends.

3 Comments

  1. kiwijaz says:

    Amazing tree! Do you have a ‘before’ photo? Would love to see the comparison.

    • crataegus says:

      I don’t think I do for this tree, but I will try to update this with a shoot photo and an old wood photo so there’s some idea what I’m talking about. Apologies for the lack of before photos. I usually offer them.

      • Vlad says:

        I do not like the “before and after” photos. My feeling is that they are more about the “artist” than about the tree. But that’s me. And I can understand that a majority of the guys like it as much as the question: how old is this tree?

        Instant bonsai versus traditional horticulture:
        It is perhaps a kind of a dictate of the rat race many of us lives – quick and dirty – never mind – just keep running.

        I wish there are much more trees like this one around. And bonsai artists who are ready to take this trial…

        Great job Michael convincing your client into this. Pretty worth the wait.

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