Wednesday 22 August 2018

My Juniper is Half Dead

The internet is full of stories of dead Juniper mallsai, many of them victims of the mistaken belief that they can be kept indoors. This is not one of those stories. I found a way to kill half my tree even though it was living outside.

Despite my reluctance to work with conifers, I currently have three Junipers in my collection - two small Juniper Procumbens Nana which I tend to neglect and a much larger Juniper Mint Julep which I foolishly bought as a candidate for Reddit's nursery stock competition though that tree was totally unsuitable for use as "instant" bonsai.

My younger Procumbens Nana is a tree which I propagated from a cutting when I entered my club's new talent competition a few years ago.

April 2018 - unstyled

Until recently I'd never done any work on it at all. Then in April I saw a lovely little Juniper bonsai on Reddit. When I heard that it had been styled without wiring I was inspired to see if I could create a small Juniper bonsai the same way.

Unfortunately when I examined my tree I discovered that its structure was totally unsuited to clip and grow, so I did a little pruning and some relatively heavy wiring. Then, extremely embarrassed by the result, I returned the tree to its home, determined that I was not going to write about the mistakes I'd made.

April 2018 - after bad styling

Over the course of winter I noticed some browning on the foliage and after a while it became obvious that something had gone horribly wrong. As you can see here, one side of the tree had died.

August 2018 - half dead

Luckily the other side is still alive and showing signs of new growth.

August 2018 - new growth on surviving trunk

Today I removed most of the dead trunk, leaving a little behind for a possible jin, while leaving the other side untouched aside from removing the wire.

August 2018 - cut back

So what went wrong?

Looking at the base of the dead trunk, there is a ring where the bark looks different from the rest. I suspect that while wiring it I accidentally stripped the bark and cambium, cutting off all life support to that trunk.

So now what?

Perhaps I'll let it grow back for a year or two before trying again. Or perhaps I'll finally accept that I'm not a Juniper person and put it on my club's raffle.

Monday 20 August 2018

Willow Leaf Ficus - 18 Months Later

When last I wrote about my willow leaf ficus, I was undecided on the way forward.

February 2017

Although that long branch was never part of my plan for the tree's future, I was unwilling to cut it off and let it go to waste. One of my readers suggested I keep it and turn the tree into a cascade, but I wasn't too keen on the idea.

After giving it a bit of thought, I decided the best way forward was to air layer that branch the following spring, and with that plan in mind I wired some movement into it shortly after the previous post was written.

Aside from a little pruning I did nothing further until November 2017.

November 2017 - before the chop

By then I was impatient to start work on the tree, so I abandoned the idea of the air layer, cut that branch off and planted it as a cutting instead. Happily it rooted.

November 2017 - after the chop

Shortly after that I took the tree along to a meeting to discuss its future.

I'd just started giving it a trim when I was called away. When I returned a few minutes later it had received an unexpected and rather severe haircut.

After repotting and changing the angle, this was what was left:

November 2017 - pruned and repotted

Since then I've just let it grow. This is what it looks like today:

August 2018

Here's a 360° view:

Now it's time for decisions. All that new growth has given me a lot of options.

I'm seriously considering going for a shorter tree, but I'm undecided where to make the next chop.

Perhaps it's time to take it to another workshop.

Saturday 4 August 2018

My Flea Market Find

After several weeks of searching for a candidate succulent to create a mame bonsai, I was starting to think that I wasn't going to find what I was looking for. Sure there were lots of tiny succulents available at all the nurseries and supermarkets, but the foliage was far too bit to create a convincing tree.

Then last Sunday I was at a flea market when I came across a table full of tiny succulents. Most of them had relatively large leaves, but then I spotted this baby:

Sedum - July 2018

It's actually far smaller than it appears here (if you're viewing this post on a computer monitor, anyway) - the pot is a mere 2 inches square.

According to the seller, it's some type of Sedum, but he didn't know which and I haven't been able to identify it yet.

Now I'm really glad I decided not to chop the variegated Portulacaria I bought a few weeks ago. It's huge compared to the Sedum:

Portulacaria and Sedum - July 2018

Meanwhile, despite the fact that it's still winter here, the Portulacaria is already budding all over the place.

I can't wait to see what these little guys do when summer arrives.