Another valuable lesson

So today I went to a workshop held by my club (Bonsai Society of Western Australia) at which I learnt a valuable lesson, a pretty basic one really, but sometimes the obvious ones are the easiest to miss.

It started at a local hardware/nursery store that I would visit quite regularly in my early months of bonsai, thinking it a good place to look for stock. While you can find good stock at these places, it’s few and far between, and not always the best value for money. I picked up a Juniper that I thought was a cracker, nice movement, and a good selection of braches, plus, its was on special. Sold. So, without even knowing the type of Juniper I had picked up, I had bought a new plant, and was stoked.


Months went by with me never doing anything with it, I was at that stage in my bonsai development where I bought more plants then I knew what to do with. Luckily, I got over that quite quickly, but I also joined a club which was able to help me do something with these plants that I had acquired. There was a workshop on today, and I decided to take this one along with me, still thinking it a decent tree, but was quickly corrected. It turns out the Juniper I have (I still do not know the name) is not a very suitable species for bonsai. I was told that the problem with it, is that it shows two types of foliage, both spiked, and scale. Not like juvenile and adult foliage, but simply it had both. Something I had not heard of unfortunately.

A little deflated, I wasn’t too sure what to do, I wandered around for a while watching other people workshop their tree’s, and listening to the advice given to them. Which was not a bad thing at all, I learnt quite a lot about pines, despite them not being a favourite of mine as yet. A point came where my fingers became itchy and I had to do something, who can watch people work bonsai and not want to do it themselves? So I decided to work my tree anyway, despite the advice not to bother. Practice is practice after all, and I enjoy it either way.

So, with the encouragement of some fellow members, I got stuck into my Juniper. I had an initial plan of making a semi cascade, as it was leading that way anyway, however in the process of creation, I ended up on going with a windswept as it just seemed to flow into that style. I trimmed it all down to the essentials, and wired up what I had left. I placed the branches into position, trying to follow the flow of tree, keeping in mind the style I had envisioned. Here is what I came out with:


A very basic effort, but this is now going to be my training tree, for me to experiment with some drastic ideas. The branch on the left will be grown, and Jinned into a nice shape, and I will try and create a Shari line down the trunk. Not for a while though, as it obviously needs to grow out first. I can practice on this, before I try anything on one of my special trees, like Shari lines for example. What have I got to lose? Maybe one day I can even turn this, despite it ‘not being suitable for bonsai’, into something really special. Only time will tell.

Always check what you are buying, and if you don’t know whether it is suitable for bonsai, then put it back down. Its not worth the effort, and you money would be better spent at your local bonsai nursery, where you’ll find much better stock, for a much more reasonable price. If you do find yourself with something like this though, don’t let someone tell you that you can’t do anything with it, give it a crack and see what you can make. Any learning experience, especially for a beginner, is a good thing.

(If you know the species of this bonsai please let me know in the comments)