I’d like to introduce you to a tree of mine I lovingly call ‘CJ’. That’s short for common juniper. This little tree was one of three I collected at the same time that were all one tree–two trees were ground layers and there was one large ‘mother tree’. The mother tree was growing horizontally on rock and in two spots where branches came in contact with the rock and then soil collected in the ‘touch zone’ these branches sprouted roots and made separate trees. The tree that is the  subject of this post was the smallest of the three trees and had only two or three shoots growing as branches. They were collected in the Washington Cascades in the fall of 2007. I put this tree in a plastic kitchen collander and potted it in 100% pumice. Sorry, I don’t have any of the earliest photos of the tree because at the time, I didn’t know if it was even going to survive, there was such little growth. But I thought, what the heck? Why waste a potentially good opportunity if it makes it? The burl that makes up most of the trunk was outstanding, after all! It survived the first winter but was slow to get going. I let it grow as much as it could that first season, only watering and fertilizing when necessary.

It really took of in its second year and I began to see a tree taking shape, so I wired it for the first time. In  the third year, the collander started to fall apart, so I potted it into the Michael Hagedorn pot you see it in now. I took it in to Michael’s study group and he saw a better front for the tree than I had been working with–it called for a change in the planted angle of the tree, however. The following spring I tilted the tree down to the right which explains the rather large mound of soil to the right of the trunk. The first photo I have to show you was taken earlier this summer and shows the tree full of this season’s new growth already hardening off:

Summer is the time we cut this growth almost completely off  (if the tree is healthy) and re-set our foliage pads to adjust for the change. This will lead to greater ramification of shoots and allow us to cut back even further if needed to create a compact look since this is a relatively small tree. This work also conveniently coincided with an invitation to show at the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection near Seattle Washington. The exhibit is titled “Best In The Northwest, Oregon” and runs from July 17th to August 5th. I am also showing the red-flowered currant I posted earlier this spring on this blog. If you’re in the area, please stop in for a look. The Weyerhauser Pacific Rim Bonsai Copllection is free and open to the public. So, here’s the tree as it will look in the exhibit:

Right side:

Left side:

And the back:

I hope you like this little tree as much as I do, it really has a lot of character and is off to a good start!