Judge #3: The potential front at “Halfway” seems more interesting. Final design has some strong horizontal lines in deadwood and branches
California Juniper (Juniperus Califonica)
53.3cm (21") / 39.3cm (15.5")
I was searching Craig’s List for material when I came across the following listing, “I have a bunch of s**t you want”. So of course I looked and BOOM! Some kid was helping his grandfather sell off his Bonsai collection (no mention of bonsai in the ad). I really was interested in his training-pots for sale but I stumbled accress this CA juniper. It was collected from Mojave, CA in 1999. It has been left in a 40 gal plastic pot since.
Being rather new to Bonsai I backflipped over the chance to buy it. When I got home I took a closer look at what I bought and wish I hadn’t spent the money. The dead wood is rather boring, the foliage either too close to the trunk or too far. The foliage that is too far from the trunk is on old brittle wood and will be very difficult to manipulate.
So why enter? Because this type of unstyled Juniper is rare-ish, and this being a contest, gives me an edge. because this will push my creativity. If I can make this thing look presentable to an experienced eye then I’ve progressed a little and learned a lot…but really I spent a hundred bucks on it and I dont want it be for nothing.
Styling: change planting angle to create movement/balance with deadwood, reduce existing deadwood trunks, attempt to make foliage into a unique short-wide isosolese…which I rarely see. maybe a semi cascade if permitable.
One Quarter Progression
Here are some initial pruning before and after images where you can see the foliage that was removed from the branch nodes. The trunk line is revealed for the first time and multiple fronts are considered.
Here the tree repotted and only the primary branches are wired and set. Two guy wires were applied to pull branches down.
Raffia was used to protect the branches from snapping; these branches are very brittle and were bent to the limit, I am surprised there was no major breakage.
Over the next few weeks the guy wires we’re turn-buckled to bring the branches down even further.
Three Quarter Progression
Here the Cali juniper has been further styled by gradually advancing the turnbuckle on the lowest branch. The tree appeared to be stressed from the initial shaping, so I have left the fine wiring of the secondary and tertiary branches for spring in hope to regain some vigor.
Final Progression: Styling
This tree really baffeled me. I spent an embassasing amount of time staring at this thing, trying to figure out what in the hell to do with it. I went around in circles for over 6 months. I finally laid it on it’s side arrainged the profile. There are 3 tiers mad up of several pads. Each tier gets closer, and wider to the viewer as they move down the tree.
I am very pleased with the design: it looks like a bonsai to me. The tree has several decent viewing angles. All the design elements – shari, jin, crown and profile – are easily viewed from the front.
This is a strong little juniper, I really put it though a tough time. CA juniper branches are brittle, so the primary branch bending was gradual; the bottom branch in over 1.00″ thick and is bent around the jined branch.
Future development will be reducing root ball, setting correct planting angle, pinching for foliage density and developing branching in the back.