Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Not My Competition Tree


Despite my doubts about my ability to create a decent looking bonsai tree from nursery stock during the South African winter, I was determined that this year I would enter Reddit's nursery stock contest.

Although my plan was to go for a small tree, my first purchase was everything I hadn't planned - a Juniper (a species I usually stay away from) and a rather large one by my standards.

Juniper Mint Julep - March 2018, as purchased

My doubts about the wisdom of this purchase began when I started looking for information about Juniper Mint Julep online and discovered that it wasn't the best candidate for bonsai.

They only increased when I realised that most of the decent branches were near the top of the tree - possibly useful for literati for somebody else, but not for me! Working with its full height wasn't really an option as I found it a struggle to move the tree around. Besides, I wasn't strong enough to bend the trunk!

It soon became obvious to me that if this tree was to be used for bonsai, it was a long term project.

Over the next couple of weeks I removed the apex and several branches and also did a little wiring (after wrapping the trunk and new leader in bandages to prevent damaging the bark).

However I left one unwanted branch low down as I was afraid to remove too much at once. Not being accustomed to working with Junipers, I already fear that I may have removed more than the tree can handle.

Juniper Mint Julep - April 2018

I'm anxiously waiting for spring to see whether it survives my brutality.


My second purchase was closer to what I had in mind when I started my search, though I still wasn't totally happy with it.

I foolishly went tree hunting on a rainy day and had to inspect trees using one hand while holding an umbrella with the other. Most probably I'd have come away with something different if the weather had been better, but having braved the rain I was determined not to leave empty handed.

As it happens that was the tree I finally entered in the contest, so for now I won't discuss it any further.


I bought one more tree which is quite small and has some potential, this skinny little privet.

Privet - April 2018- as purchased

My initial intention was to create a literati with this one, but once I got to work I wasn't sure. While that was a viable option, I could see enough potential for a mame to make me reluctant to remove the low branches.


Lower trunk - July 2018

 As a result I stopped work half way, leaving my options open. The introductory photo to this post shows the half-styled tree in April 2018.

In hindsight I made the right decision when I rejected this one as my competition tree because it still looks pretty much the same three months later.

I'll leave the final decision over its future until spring, but I'm almost certain that I'll go for the mame option. Once the weather warms up I expect the young branches low down will develop pretty quickly.

I'm really curious to see what I can achieve with this one in six months once it's actually growing.

No comments yet, but I'd love to hear your view.

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