In August of 2018, I received my very first Rocky Mountain Juniper. I purchased it from Todd Schlafer of First Branch Bonsai at the Midwest Bonsai Society‘s August show. I was using it as a workshop tree with Master Naoki Maeoka. The following will be my failings and progression of the tree under my care.
The workshop was fine. I really go into these types of workshops just to get an idea of what to do. I prefer to work at home or in my hotel room away from everyone else. I can work at my own slow pace without people interrupting me or judging. To be honest I just love to toss on some tunes and jam out and lose myself in the tree. I am to distracted in a workshop setting.
These next photos are from the workshop in August of 2018 with Naoki Maeoka.
Back Home, August 2018
When I got home from Chicago I spent some time washing the deadwood with a toothbrush and I applied Lime Sulfur. I really wanted to start that bend on the branch to bring it down and around to the front. I was warned not to do it that late in the year. It was late August in Minnesota. I was also told that it was the best time to do it. Being that it was something I wanted to do, I went ahead and took the advice to do it.
I wired on a piece of rebar and started in.
I don’t know about 2019. It just seems like a lazy bonsai year or maybe there is just not much for me to do yet. I have been busy making fertilizer and sending out products to customers, so I suppose that is a good thing.
Back to this tree though. The one branch I was bending down and around to the front didn’t make it. You can see that in the April photo below.
Even though that bottom branch died and I spent the most time on that section, there is still a lot of foliage to work with. The tree has grown very strong this year so far.
From mid July on through to the end of August, when I had time, I cleaned and wired this Rocky Mountain Juniper. I never did get it finished. I needed help with the apex. I thought that is all I need help with anyway. Turns out I had no idea how to finish off a pad. It is hard for me to learn just from books and videos. They are to 2D. Even when those videos are as great as the Mirai Live videos, its hard to understand whats really going on. Nothing helps me more than seeing some of these things in person.
I knew I was going to be taking this Rocky Mountain Juniper bonsai to a workshop with Tyler Sherrod at the beginning of September 2019. I really wanted to get this tree all trimmed up and wired out before then. As stated above I stopped at the top because I needed help.
In the below image you can see how I was trimming up the foliage and creating pads. I had wired a bit more after this photo, but I was lost. Two nights before the workshop I was out looking at the tree and I had seen how to proceed. I didn’t have time to work on the tree and I was uncomfortable making that decision. So I waited.
For the workshop I had secured a working spot in both sessions, meaning all day working. I had brought a few trees just incase I needed them to fill the time. I didn’t. This tree needed more work than I thought.
Tyler got my tree up on the turntable and right away made a move I wanted to make but I didn’t dare to. In the end Tyler and I had the same vision, just that my vision was amature and his was pro.
The tree basically had three apexes and we had to reduce to one. The first move was to kill off and shorten the right most apex.
The below images shows that right most apex removed along with the first pad that Tyler corrected for me.
After cutting off that one apex, it really started to open things up. Tyler took the pads that I had created and started to go all pro on them. He compacte them and laid them out properly. He brought them down and filled in empty places. He cut off another branch that made things odd. I hated the branch, but never wanted to cut it off.
Below is the final shot from the workshop followed by the last picture of the year at home. In the end I needed to add a couple pieces of wire on the apex. I have to shorten some of the deadwood features, and give a good scrub to the tree to clean up the dead and live veins.
This photo was taken in June 2020. After the repot last month I used Sumo Cakes® Root Elixir to help regain the beneficial fungi and placed fertilizer cakes. Already the tree has put out a lot of new fine growth.