It’s so important that we make locally grown material for bonsai as we know that it will thrive in our climate and that we make provision for future generations of bonsai enthusiasts.
I have been taking cuttings for over ten years, some take but many do not. I have a parent Itoigawa plant that I have used and have taken over 100 cuttings from this. Once the cutting have reached three growing seasons I introduce movement into the small trunks with copper wire, I also pot on into larger pots, usually shohin pots.
After another three growing seasons they are ready to move on to larger pots and so continue. Some of the cutting are used to graft onto older junipers that are having their foliage changed.
Another aspect of providing for future generations is (if suitable) I replace yamadori collected with a young tree of the same species into the place where I have dug. Here you can see some Yew saplings ready for that purpose.
I collected this Common Juniper (Juniperus Communis) 10 years ago and today it had its first styling. The trees are VERY difficult to collect, establish and style, so much so that most collectors simply do not dig them as yamadori as the survival rate is so low. I learnt from Peter Thali in Switzerland that the only way to collect these successfully was from a particular rock type and a short window in the year. I collected this single tree as per his advice and the tree has thrived. Styling Juniperus Communis is notoriously difficult as you cannot wire any new growth, wire can only be applied to branches that have bark, this gives a first styling that can look somewhat untidy as you can see… but the framework is there.
I love the thin live vein and the twisting around the deadwood, the foliage will fill out but this will be done with scissors and NOT pinching. The lovely Duffet pot is only temporary until I find a suitable pot.
NO carving by machine has been done on this tree, all the deadwood has been worked by hand stripping and burning the flaky ends.
Here is the tree 4 years after it was collected
I collected this Juniperus Communis in 2006 from a granite cliff, the rocks were split and I was able to collect 99% of the root that was growing in the duff between the cracks. I learnt from Peter Thali you must only collect from granite, collecting from limestone will surely lead to failure and up to this point that has always been the case. I know of only one ‘large’ Juniperus Communis that have survived from the UK. I collected a few of these amazing specimens over 25 years ago… they all died! It could be that they were planted in the wrong mixture, not enough roots, too much/little water, disease, fungus, rust… the list is endless… Juniperus Communis should only be collected if you really know what you are doing.
The tree was planted in a soil mixture I was given from my friend Pavel Slovak. It is made up of collected mountain grit that is mostly limestone and tufa, mixed with pumice. The particles are 1mm to 3mm so really quite small, it’s almost sand in texture. This is NOT normally good in the wet climate of the UK… but it has made the tree thrive! So when it comes to re-potting into the position ready to style the tree I will reuse the soil.
Two years ago I cleared out a lot of the growth that was a long way from the ‘action’. The trunk spirals and twists in lots of directions and there was some great growth close to the trunk. This is what you can see in the photos after two further year’s growth.
I see a very compact tree with the emphasis on showing the twisty trunk. I will use the foliage for the final tree and NOT replace with Itoigawa as is the fashion. My reason is that I love to work with our native trees, Juniperus Communis would be a great addition to my private collection. This tree is not for sale
My great friend Michael Mehrmann has let me share this wonderful video of six amazing trees from Omiya, the video is in High Definition so watch it in full screen to enjoy all the detail of these fabulous Bonsai.
The five featured trees are
To watch in full screen HD click the small arrows in the bottom right of the video
One of the best parts of staying over at a Bonsai masters house is that you can get up close and personal to the trees, this video shows ‘The Eye of The Cyclone’ Juniper Bonsai from all angles. It’s an amazing tree and the work done is superb. I first saw this tree when It won the Noelanders Trophy in 2010.