Sunday, 6 August 2017

Styling a Juniper

Last week was another BRAT meeting - a meeting at which all the bonsai clubs in my province get together.

Among the speakers was Stefann Pretorius, a member of Suikerbos Bonsai Kai and winner of last year's national new talent competition. For that competition participants work on nursery stock - totally untrained Juniper Procumbens Nana. For this demonstration he used far better material, an older Juniper which had been propagated specially for bonsai use. This is what it looked like from Stefann's chosen front.

Before styling

Stefann had taken some time to study this tree and had done several sketches of potential styles, before settling on this one:


With a slight change of slant required, the first thing Stefann did was tie the tree firmly to the turntable.


Then it was time for a little pruning.


Nothing too major as Stefann says it's best not to remove more than 40% of the foliage in one go. I guess that explains why the Juniper I attempted to style at our club's new talent competition a few months ago seems to be dying. Well that and the fact that I decided to move it from the nursery bag into a pot at the wrong time of year!

The biggest job was wiring all those branches. Luckily Stefann had a very able assistant for that - Hannes Fritz, also from Suikerbos Bonsai Kai, is an experienced grower who recently represented Africa on stage at the 8th World Bonsai Convention in Japan, styling a tree belonging to Masahiko Kimura.

Stefann and Hannes wiring the tree

After wiring the tree looked like this:

After styling

It will take a while to develop the pads, but the structure is in place for a very nice bonsai.

When I see trees like this I wish I had the skill and patience to style a good Juniper bonsai, but they're really prickly and they require far too much wiring for my liking.