August 2018

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.

August 2018

This image is of when I first got it back to the hotel room. This tree was probably three or four times bigger than I have thought. Its a massive tree. It may or may not have tipped over coming out of the elevator. It almost didn’t fit inside with me.

August 2018

This is a bad image of me trying to give some sort of scale with my hand to show how massive this tree’s foliage is.

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.

August 2018

Naoki suggested this as the front and angle for the next repot. I almost like standing and looking to the left over the right corner of the pot. I am ok with this until someone shows me something different.

August 2018

The goal here was to kill of a branch on the front left and clean up the long extending branch.

August 2018

This is after applying the Lime Sulfur and securing the rebar.

August 2018

In the end I am supposed to pull this branch down and around to the front.

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.

August 2018

Cleaning up and wiring the big pad on this branch.

August 2018

This photo is at some point during the time of pulling the branch down and around to the front.

September 2018

Not a good photo, but this is how the tree ended the year in September. I had laid out a lot of the branches. It looked better in person than these horrible pictures. I left on a lot of the foliage.

April 2019

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.

April 2019

You can see on the image that the bottom portion is a slightly different shade of green. It was dead. I left it on though until it went completely brown. I then cut it off in July.

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.

July 2019

You can see in this image how much more foliage there is to work with. Look at all of the tips and see the extending new growth.

July 2019

Another angle showing the growth that has taken place this year.

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.

August 2019

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.

September 2019

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.

September 2019

Below is an image of the back of the tree part way through the workshop.

September 2019

This next image is of Tyler at the very end of the workshop (it was over) trying to finish up the wiring and placement of that final apex piece. Everything got compacted and brought around to create a single apex.

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.

May 2020

Today (May 2nd, 2020) I repotted this Rocky Mountain Juniper into a Sara Rayner pot. It went really well. I did not have to remove too many roots. I was, however, able to reduce the length of the deadwood in the soil to make it fit into the pot.

June 2020

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.

July 2020

This Juniper is coming along very nicely after the repot this spring. It did not miss a beat. This image is from July 25th, 2020.

August 2020

I brought this tree into my workshop to work on. This is really only the 2nd complete working of the tree. I am trying to get a lot of areas to extend because I cut too much off the first time. This working, I trimmed the downward growing foliage along with the crotch growth that was not needed. There were a few areas that I stopped the extending by cutting the tip growth, but for the most part, I just wired or re-positioned what I wanted to keep. After taking this photo, I see a place that I need to readjust, but that is not that big of a deal.
This image is from August 15th, 2020.

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