Rich’s Kishu


This is a juniper that had sat in my nursery for some time. Just an average piece of material sitting between many wonderful bonsai and yamadori material trees and going virtually un-noticed.


A number of visitors commented that it looked out of place in the nursery. I guess that they did not take the time to look at the trees styling possibilities with so many other seductive trees around.


It is the sort of tree you see in many nurseries. Quite tall and straight with a blob of foliage far away from the nebari. However it did offer several obvious styling options, and what follows is what we chose for this particular tree.




A close up of the foliage. The tree is very healthy and will need to be for the work ahead. Kishu juniper is characterised by the tight foliage as seen here. Though not as refined as the ever popular Itoigawa it is a good species to work with, and this tree in particular was very vigorous.




We decided to lower the height of the tree a little and to introduce some movement into a trunk that was currently like a brush handle. In the image you can see the shari separating the two live veins that ran up either side of the tree. I decided to split the tree into two at the point where the right hand branch left the trunk, and to follow the shari as I split the tree.




Splitting the tree into two carefully.


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Here you can see the stages of preparing the live vein for bending. The core of the live vein has been hollowed out and filled with aluminium wires to stop it collapsing when bent. These have then been held in place with raffia and then the whole of the trunk as been raffiered as per normal. Then two wires have been attached on the outer edge of the live vein to act as armatures to protect the live vein during manipulation. Then the whole trunk has been raffiered again, before being wired with copper wire. The tree was rested for around six months after this work and allowed to grow unchecked to strengthen the live vein.




This image shows the start of the process to give movement and interest to the live vein. When doing this technique, you should keep in mind that some juniper species are quite pliable for some time, and once de-wired and the armatures are removed some movement will occur in the area that has been manipulated. So you must allow for this, however this is easier with the more experience you have.




This is the result after our first working of the tree and already the trees potential is starting to show. There is still a long way to go yet. We have to tighten up the foliage more now as it was allowed to grow untouched to maintain health. Also it has a considerable root ball which we will need to reduce to get it into a suitable pot. We can then review the overall shape of the tree as it develops and make any changes we feel necessary. But for now the major work has been done and this tree should have a good future. It now is no longer another mass produced juniper. It is now a juniper with individuality!