Shimpaku Shohin in Progress

This post is about the development of a shohin shimpaku juniper from Japanese, imported, partly worked material. I purchased the tree in September 2011. It was actually the first shohin material that I acquired and I wanted to use it as a learning exercise on the care and maintenance of small trees in small pots.The first picture shows how the tree looked when I brought it home.


It was in good health, so I decided that I would remove some of the lower branches to reveal the movement of the trunk and carry out some preliminary wiring to open up the remaining foliage. No more work was undertaken until late spring 2012.




In May 2012, I removed the tree from its training pot and re-potted it into this amazing crackle glazed pot by Andy Pearson of Stonemonkey Ceramics. I had recently purchased this when I attended my first British Shohin Association Show at Willowbog Bonsai Nursery in March of the same year.This is my favourite photograph of this tree taken in July 2012.


Shortly after this picture was taken the health and vigour of the tree seemed to go into decline. The tips of the foliage turned brown and the affected branchlets turned yellow. This was a condition that developed slowly over the next year. I have heard this condition described as a reaction to overworking the tree. While I believe this to be true, I have observed with other trees that the most significant factor in limiting the impact of this condition is the timing of a re-potting. Trees that are re-potted when the night time temperatures are warm seem to suffer less.

Towards the end of that year new foliage began to emerge from the intersection between branches and the health of the tree continued to improve throughout 2013. By may 2014 the tree was again growing with vigour and I was able to start work on a shari. The next picture shows how the tree is looking at the moment (June 2014). In the next year or so I would like to slowly reduce the mass of foliage to something closer to where it was in the previous picture



15 thoughts on “Shimpaku Shohin in Progress

  1. Robert any chance you can send me a hi res picture of the tree and pot combo in the last picture with a view to use it in the gallery on my new website when it gets finished



  2. Hi Robert Nice little tree. I would like to ask if you did the shari in one go? Some time if you do it in stages, like make it narrower than you want and then expand it over the years, it creates ridged appearance on the trunk and gives it a character. How did you do your shari and what was the reaction of your tree.
    Thanks for the tip on repotting on warmer nights.
    It helps a lot if you have a virtual in place at the beginning…It gives You a chance to ponder …look at the tree with purpose, …plan…and start giving subtle direction to the tree.
    What did you do to the tree up to date after the initial pruning, in therms of cut back?

    • Hi Neli, the shari on this tree was only done recently, so it is too early to tell if there will be any adverse effect on the health of the tree as a.result of this work. I have found, through working on other junipers that I can make quite a large shari at one attempt without affecting the health of the tree, as long as I don’t do anything else at the same time. I am hopeful that this tree will be OK but there are no certainties in bonsai

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