Sierra juniper – first steps

A few years ago, I acquired a tall Sierra juniper with interesting deadwood along the lower trunk. I repotted the tree and let it grow freely to encourage as much root growth as possible.

The tree is now full and healthy – so much so that it’s time to thin the foliage.

Sierra juniperSierra juniper

Sierra juniper

After thinning dense the areas, I reduced a few branches that won’t be used in the final design.


Branch that won’t be used in the final design

After removing foliageAfter removing foliage

After removing the foliage

Here’s the tree after cutback, thinning, and wiring the lowest branch.

After cutbackAfter cutback

After cutback – 39″

Why wire just the lowest branch? One idea for the tree’s future is to jin the upper portion of the trunk. This leaves a single branch to work with in this area, so I grafted two branches to help fill in the future silhouette.


Small shoot on a grafted branch

I placed one graft on each side of the trunk and will let them grow freely for a year or two before they are wired. Once the grafts are better established, I can reduce the foliage on the top half of the trunk to create additional deadwood features. In the meantime, I can continue to develop the lowest branch while the rest of the tree fills in.

Here’s a close-up of the lower section of the trunk.

trunk detailtrunk detail

Trunk detail

New Podcast Episodes Available

Michael Hagedorn and I interviewed each other about our recent books for the Bonsai Wire Podcast this month.

2D vs. 3D teaching, tips for bonsai photography, and long lines at Kokufu make appearances in the episode focusing on The Little Book of Bonsai, and the Bonsai Heresy episode dives into horticultural topics investigated in the book.

Listen to both episodes on your favorite podcast player (where you can subscribe!) or at: The Bonsai Wire Podcast.

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