Monthly Archives: August 2013

Whipped back into shape, with love

This Shimpaku was once owned by a man named Oguchi, a famous Bonsai collector.  I believe it appeared in one of his books over 20 years ago, when I find the photo I’ll be sure to include it next time, old records are great informers.

I worked on this tree for last years Kokufu.  At that time only detail wiring and an overall balance check were necessary.  Here is how it looked last winter.


Its current owner brought it back to us this summer for work, it ended up needing to be completely de-wired, deadwood cleaned, and rewired.  When over half is cutting in its usually better to just take it all off and let the tree rest.  In this case, however, Mr. Suzuki had other plans.  I later found out that this tree now belonged to my teacher, and being the multi-talented kind of guy that he is, he decided the tree was healthy and ready to be passed on to another.  Easier said than done, yes?  It became my lucky day; I was to rewire it in a soft and unobtrusive manner (avoiding wire scars) keeping in mind that simplicity in technique was required in order to do this old Juniper justice.  Having worked it before, I had a pretty solid idea about what needed to be done, so I went to work.  here are the results!




Revisiting an old friend

Hey folks, I know its been a while.  My gracious sempai Mike Hagedorn was nice enough to do a post about my recent work here at the nursery of Shinji Suzuki, and because of that act of kindness I gained a few new friends here at Reelbonsai.  Since I used up all of my good “before and afters” of Juniper on Mike’s blog ( I had to get creative.  Today was a scorcher, mid 90’s with too much humidity, so in between watering and other daily apprentice tasks, I was asked to re-adjust a white pine that I had wired a year before.  My teacher bought it from a client, it had grown leggy and out of proportion.  Although I don’t have a before pic, here is what this old guy looked like after my first wiring on it.


After the first styling last winter, not bad for the first go, but some things just didn’t seem balanced, maybe a little too heavy in places, maybe one or two unnecessary branches, something just didn’t click with the final image at the time, and boy would this tree explode with new growth throwing everything way more out of control… once again, I was not thinking and didn’t get a before pic of how this pine looked prior to my revision today, I think all the sweat that dripped into my ears today somehow got into my brain… so here’s how it looked all spruced up after a couple hours  of readjusting.


It actually looks like a different tree, thats the fun part about white pine, when the new growth finally hardens off after months of arduous pin point watering; don’t want the needles to get too long and white pine don’t like a lot of water.  One time a day heavily in the morning from the time the new candles begin to elongate, about the end of July.  

An old thin tree like this requires a pretty good deal of pre-determined contemplation.  Like any species or style of Bonsai, you want to show off or highlight certain characteristics.  This is a bunjin, so the first thought  in ones mind should be “compact” and having more separation between the smaller foliage pads.  

You might notice that my first attempt didn’t quite live up to this philosophy, the branches don’t seem very interesting and don’t compliment the movement of the trunk, and the tree overall was still not very compact.  It became apparent that a branch in front up near the apex was too heavy, by removing it and lowering some of the main branches really allowed me to close everything in and the new design became worthy of the trees age.  Hope you enjoy the new look, it was a fun challenge and a good excuse to get out of the heat!