Twenty seven degrees outside just now and I know this is nothing compared to what some are experiencing a thousand miles to the east–twenty seven below zero. The cold is relative though, and we don’t usually get this kind of cold until January. All of this to say it’s a good time to get caught up with posts to my blog and stay out of the cold for now. And if you just happened on my blog for the first time today, this post is a follow-up from the last post of trees I styled to make up for some of the cost of a third tree–a Ponderosa pine collected by Randy Knight of Oregon Bonsai. I forgot to mention that the two trees I’m working in exchange for a little break in the cost of the ponderosa are up for sale. Just leave a comment if you are interested and I’ll pass it on to Randy. How about a look at the new tree first?

twisty ponderosa

 

This tree is 25″ tall and the trunk is 3 1/2″ in diameter where it’s secured with wire at the rim of the pot. A very nice medium size bonsai! And the deadwood spiral starts down at the base and goes continuously around that sharp bend. I spied it when we took the first Portland Bonsai Village Tour to Randy’s field in July. It really held its own against other larger, more  complex and equally interesting yamadori in his field. It ‘talked’ to me 😉 We were allowed to tag trees we were interested in that day but it was up to us to get hold of Randy because he was busy moving at the time. As summer progressed, I thought about the tree from time to time, all the while thinking I’d just be bothering Randy asking about it. But fall arrived and I figured I’d better see if the tree was even still available. It took several attempts as I had an old phone number and two e-mail addresses to pick from. When I finally got through, Randy was off collecting and said he’d be back sometime November and that the tree was still available. And there you have it. Not all the trees that were tagged that day in July were available and I was told I was one of the few that called to ask about their tree.

So, the second tree and the subject of this post is a Rocky Mountain juniper that was collected in October of last year according to its dog tag. It did very well over the growing season and was crowned with a dense mop of weepy foliage…always a challenge! Add to that there was no green for nearly 18″ above the soil. The trunk divided into two branches about an inch thick and very stiff. They were growing straight up and reminded me of two fingers giving the ‘peace’ sign. Let’s take a look at what we’re talking about:

RMJ

 

And the opposite side:

RMJ

 

I chose the side above for the front for a couple of reasons–the live vein is in better proportion with the deadwood and the twist the trunk takes before the branches bifurcate is more pronounced from this side. The other side of the tree could have been used for the front also as you’ll see in the ‘after’ pictures below. I like to try to bend the branches around a bit before I wire them to see if they will go into the position I eventually want them and they were telling me to change their position with respect to one another; in other words, I had to bring the second branch forward and slip the first one around it. I then began to clean out the dead branches and also carved roughly half the diameter of the first branch at the base as it was half-dead anyway. Next I wrapped wet raffia (six strands) around the base of each branch and up to where I thought the most bending would occur. I anchored the two main branches together with 4 gauge copper wire, the heaviest size I had around. And here’s the first shot after that was done:

RMJ

 

Here’s a shot from the right side showing a guy wire I used to get that stiff old branch to stay in place. Rocky Mountain juniper branches can sometimes be incredibly stiff and brittle even with small diameters, which is why we try to reduce them if we can by carving out the non-living tissue prior to bending. The raffia and heavy gauge wire helps the process too but even then it’s sometimes necessary to use a guy wire to hold the branch in a position we want it to be.

RMJ

 

And next is a shot of the first branch wired out and set into position. That was where I had to leave it for the first day’s work.

RMJ

 

The next day was more wiring and the addition of more guy wires as the relationship of the two branches started to clarify. But you can see our goal of making a nearly three foot tall and rangy bush to a more compact and ordered design is being accomplished.

RMJ

 

Well, a lot happened between those two shots and all I can say is that when I get into a work jag, I kind of forget to stop and take photos…sorry 😦  And to make up for that, I hope a tour around the tree will allow you to see what was done. I left plenty of foliage on the tree and didn’t wire it completely because this the first ‘rough in’ done late in the season and I’d like to leave the tree with plenty of undisturbed branches so it can make itself some food and recover from the styling process. The next photo is of the back of the tree, which I mentioned earlier, could also serve as a front. The live vein from this side is very thick and is larger than the deadwood, which tends to make the tree appear a little younger.

RMJ

 

Next shot is the right side of the tree and the tree’s left, just to confuse you 😉

RMJ

 

This  shot is very revealing showing the nice movement present in the lower trunk and the twist I talked about earlier. And for the last of the tour, the left side, or the tree’s right:

RMJ

 

One last shot for you against a black velvet background:

RMJ

 

And there you have it, the result of three days work. I’d like to thank Randy Knight for extending me the opportunity to work on these awesome collected trees and I hop they go to good homes!

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