Peter Tea returned to the Marin Bonsai Club for our August meeting with his ongoing program on developing junipers for bonsai. He brought several trees to illustrate his talk, some he had worked on previously with the club, so we could see the progress the trees have made.
Peter started out with a review of the trees, pointing out the differences between the Itoyagawa variety which has lighter, finer foliage and is a little more difficult to work on, and Kishu, which is identified by darker and more dense foliage. Examining the trees that had been worked on previously with the club we saw that the trees exhibited strong growth and buds developing at the base of branches enabling Peter to make some judicious cuts. He cautioned us not to over prune the trees. Generally junipers are worked on twice a year, in June and December. The months of June and July will generally show the strongest growth, and if the tree responds well to pruning at this time and grows back strongly, it can then be pruned again at the end of the year. The top might even need to be cut more frequently, but there will also be areas that we won’t want to cut at all. The temptation to cut ugly or overly exuberant growth is strong, but these branches serve a purpose for a period of time in that they may generate new growth in an area that currently has none.