Coming back from Canberra recently I called in to Leong's nursery in Sydney and bought three sargent junipers, one larger and two smaller.
There's nothing like being immersed in bonsai for a few days for inspiration. I must admit to have been quite taken by all the juniper species in the US while there too. Every time I go to a nursery here there are many varieties of garden junipers available and perhaps it's time to give some of them a chance. While the shimpaku is without doubt out a beautiful thing getting to a significant size is more than a lifetime's work. So let's begin with a few sargents.
It was a difficult choice when I bought them. I'd hate to have to make a quick styling decision. As I've looked at them for a little while now the direction is becoming a little clearer. I had a number of objectives when I bought them; one was to look for opportunities to attach ceramic tanuki, another to air layer off a few unneeded long branches for some highly flexed starter styling and perhaps eventually also some shimpaku grafting.
Let's start with the larger one:
Underneath all that foliage there is a quite straight trunk with a little reverse taper and scar as well as three principal branches, each quite straight and rigid without early secondry branches.
After clearing out the weak smaller branches from inside the tree I selected a smaller branch which joins the trunk on the face towards the camera, the front, as the new leader. You can see the other three main primary branches, the lower one to the left, one at the back and the other at upper right. The selection I've made for a new leader will take time to develop but will avoid the compromises you might otherwise make in the interests of early bulk and will present less of the straight section of the trunk.
To make the future direction clearer here is the trunk and leader more clearly. There is a branch to the right which may be retained but can stay for the moment.
Each of the three primary branches are good candidates for independent development and I will air layer off the left and right branches in the spring. The one at the back might be useful for a bit longer as a sacrafice branch to develop some more trunk bulk. Here are some shots of those branches with the rest of the tree blurred out. At their thickest these are all close to 20mm.
In addition all the material cut off in the cleanup has been put down as cuttings about 15 of them. Root hormone, very sandy mix and wrapped in a clear plastic bag is a very successful technique at this time of year in Brisbane. All up by this time next year I hope to have perhaps 20 plants of various size from this one.
The final picture is the tanuki opportunity for this tree, taking the trunk from about 40mm to closer to 120mm. This would be a lot of fun to make but quite a challenge given the 13% shrinkage from wet clay to fired, but anything's possible with a few measurements.