THE UGLY DUCKLING – JUNIPER STYLE

Okay, it has nothing to do with gardening, bonsai, or the PAC - NW but I really love that the Beloved Troll's minions thought they could march into a British business and demand that they stop lampooning the Supreme Toad. Bless the owner and the Met for telling them to piss off!

Okay, it has nothing to do with gardening, bonsai, or the PAC – NW but one could argue it has a lot to do with ugly. I really love that the Beloved Troll’s minions thought they could march into a British business and demand that they stop lampooning the Supreme Toad. Bless the owner and the Met for telling them to piss off! Score TWO for the swans!- image courtesy of mashable.com

 

That brings us to today’s gardening tale. But first, you need to know that we have had a fairly long love affair with bonsai. I blame it on being born in Japan and Colleen traces her roots (pardon the pun) to a neighbor from her childhood. Now, we started doing bonsai on a less than optimal climate – the Arizona desert. And, throughout the years we’ve persisted, which is what doing bonsai takes – dogged, irrational, irrepressible persistence (in that respect, it’s a lot like writing.) Anyway, we got proficient enough that we actually transported several prized trees from our former desert abode to the Northwest when we moved here.

One such specimen was a “really neat” buffalo juniper. Now, these are among the most ineptitude proof plants for bonsai. They are tough, rugged plants that thrive in almost any environ. Yet, when we got it here to the land of rain, it started taking a turn for the worse. We suspect it was just shocked to have so much water combined with so little sunshine. Now, whenever a bonsai goes into shock, the best chance of reviving it you have it to yank it out of its pot and plop it into the dirt. So, after trying everything else short of animal sacrifice, we finally uprooted the juniper and stuck it in the ground with instructions to thrive or perish; after which we promptly forgot about it.

Being the kind of plant it is – stubborn, obstinate, and contrary – it chose to flourish with neglect. Which brings us to last weekend. After four years of being treated like the Dread Pirate Roberts handled Wesley (“Good night Wesley. Well done. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.” – Oh come on! You HAVE to have seen the Princess Bride, right? It’s chock a block full of useful, quotable dialogue!) OOPS! off task again. Anyway, after four years of being ignored, we put it back into a pot. This is a great opportunity to see how a seemingly ugly bush goes to bonsai in training (or, in this case, retraining) in a matter of an hour or so. You also get to see what a mess the back porch becomes as we begin addressing the winter’s effect on the garden at large. Enjoy and we hope you find the juniper’s transformation as amazing as we did.

Buffalo Juniper just pulled from the ground and plopped into its training pot. Just look at that leggy, ugly, mangy mess!

Buffalo Juniper just pulled from the ground and plopped into its training pot. Just look at that leggy, ugly, mangy mess!

This is the same juniper after the initial trimming. Notice how the center is opened up. At this stage, we decided to train it as a cascade or semi-cascade style tree.

The broken branch at the left is called a 'Jin'. It's traditional to have only one on a bonsai but that branch jutting out to the right just cried out for some attention.

The broken branch at the left is called a ‘Jin’. It’s traditional to have only one on a bonsai but that branch jutting out to the right just cried out for some attention.

Here you can see the heavy gage training wire wrapped around the trunk and out the branches. It will be progressively lowered to force the main branch downward into the cascading position. Also note what we did with the right hand jin. All it took was a bit of cutting with a tree saw and a pair or needle nose pliers and - ta da - instant drama! Colleen described it as adding 'motion' and 'fluidity' to the tree. I must concur.

Here you can see the heavy gage training wire wrapped around the trunk and out the branches. It will be progressively lowered to force the main branch downward into the cascading position. Also note what we did with the right hand jin. All it took was a bit of cutting with a tree saw and a pair or needle nose pliers and – ta da – instant drama! Colleen described it as adding ‘motion’ and ‘fluidity’ to the tree. I must concur.

Here you see the overall view of the wired tree. It is now ready for the plant hospital for a few days of rest and recovery and then we'll continue training it to droop on the right side and adapt to smaller and smaller pots.

Here you see the overall view of the wired tree. It is now ready for the plant hospital for a few days of rest and recovery and then we’ll continue training it to droop on the right side and adapt to smaller and smaller pots.

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