This is the second Juniper that I styled. It is one of three trees I bought last week. As usual my week just got so busy that I did not have time to style the other trees. I put out time today to work on this tree.
This is the tree out of all the others that I feel in love with the moment I saw it. I wanted to style this tree last but I just could not get the tree out of my thoughts. It took me two hours and twenty minutes to finish this tree. This is twice as long as the previous tree. The trees were more or less the same size but what made this tree different then the one I styled last week is the fact that the branches on this one was longer and thicker. This is more difficult to bend into place and I did not just want to go into designing the tree without seeing what I had to work with. I had to remove small dead branches and a few of the finer growth just to see how the branches were places under the masses of foliage.
This is how the tree looked before I did any work on the tree. As you can see there is no clear view of the trunk and the branch structure. All I know is that there is a nice thick trunk underneath the branches. One thing that I have learnt over the past few years were never to cut or bend any branch unless you can clearly trace it to where it come out of the trunk. I have cut branches and then later discovered that it was one long branch that comes from the other side of the tree. The branch in this photo above is one of those type of branches that comes out at the back of the tree and runs all along the side of the tree then bends forward. I spent a good thirty odd minutes studying the branch structure before I made and cuts or bends.
In the photo above you can clearly see that I started to wire the tree. If you look carefully at the two photos you will see that I have removed only the long growth tips and a few of the smaller branches. This tree was so dense that I needed to place branches and make space in between branches to move and wire other branches. Normally when you are styling a tree the branches are far apart and the wire goes on easily. With this tree the wiring was slightly more challenging. Every time a wire was put on I had to have the scissors close by as I needed to remove the small twigs between the branches to make space for the wire. This was one of the reasons this tree took so long.
Here you can see that the first and second branches were put in place and yet there is still not a lot of open spaces in the tree. Then styling a tree you need to bare in mind that filling all the open spaces in the tree is not recommended. There needs to be some space for sun light and air to move through the tree. You also need to be able to see the movement of the trunk as well. Don’t get me wrong a tree that is well groomed with nice compact foliage pads do look good as long as there is definition withing the tree. If everything looks like one big bush then you have created a nice topiary tree.
Before we go any further I just wanted to bring your attention to the method that I used to set the first branch in place. When we read books on designing bonsai we always read about how we need to bring down branches to make the tree look older. In this case I needed to lift the first branch. This work but it also needed to move to the back towards the trunk. I would set the branch in place and after a few seconds it would move back forward again. I then used a guy wire to set the branch in place. A guy wire is a thin wire that you attach to the branch you want to move and to another branch in the direction that you would like to pull that branch. Now if there is no branch or if the branch you attaching the guy wire to is not strong enough you can tie the wire to the rim of the container or to a pipe or object that you place in the container. Please note make sure that the wire is securely in place before pulling and tightening the wire. If there is movement on the wire you will end up removing bark from the tree. To counter act this you can use a piece of rubber tube and place that between the wire and the bark.
After the primary or lower branches were set in place the rest of the tree was a breeze. All the other branches kind of just fell into place after that. My only challenge after all the branches were set was figuring out how I was going to place my apex. Please note that this is the initial styling of this tree and that it will still change a lot. Now after I clarified that I can share this small trick of illusion with you. The apex of this tree is made out of three branches…
I know that it looks a bit crooked when view from this close but I bet you could not see it in the other photos before I mentioned it. There will be very few trees that you will style or design that does not require a little improvising. This is the part that you can not be taught. You will have to figure this out as you go.
Here are a few other photos of the tree are different angles.
Then my favorite angle. The top spiral view or as they call it the movies the money shot.
I like viewing a tree from the top. If all the branches can be seen from the top then I’m happy. This make me think of the spokes of a bicycle’s wheels.
Here is a short time-lapse of the trees styling.