Re-Styling A San Jose Juniper Bonsai

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san jose juniper bonsai

The subject of this photoseries, a large San Jose Juniper bonsai, started life as a semi-styled, field-grown tree. Originally a semi-cascade bonsai, I carried out its first styling in late 2011. During this styling, the deadwood was carved and the foliage wired and laid-out. This styling is detailed, step-by-step, in the final chapter of my second book 'Bonsai Inspirations 2'.

san jose juniper bonsai

The San Jose Juniper after its initial styling in late 2011.

As a first styling, it was something of a disappointment not to be able to push the tree further in terms of refinement. However, the health, and indeed the survival, of the tree was of utmost importance and as a result, the foliage was not refined as aggressively as I would have liked.

After returning the Juniper bonsai to its owner in late Autumn 2011, the tree was then sold on to another bonsai enthusiast.

san jose juniper bonsai

The San Jose Juniper after a second styling in late 2012. Height 17"/42cm, trunkbase diameter 5"/12.5cm

To my great delight, the new owner of the San Jose Juniper brought the tree back to me a year later, in late 2012, for re-styling and further refining. A year of recovery from its first styling had re-invigorated the tree and allowed me to push the styling even harder, reducing the foliage mass to a point where the foliage pads could be clearly defined. Details of this re-working of the tree can be read here on

san jose juniper bonsai

Re-working the bonsai in late 2015.

Three years later, in 2015, the owner of the tree brought the tree back to me for further work. Where the tree had settled down after the stylings' of 2011 and 2012, the life-lines/live-veins running up the trunk, from the roots to the remaining branches, had changed. Where branches had been removed, the live-veins supporting them had naturally died back, all the way down the trunk, the manner in which shari natually occur.

san jose juniper bonsai

Gently removing the bark from the now-dead live-veins.

The first part of my work was to peel away the now-dead live veins. In many places the bark had begun to fall away and I simply had to keep pulling away strips of bark until I was able to isolate the veins of live tissue that remained on the trunk. These techniques are detailed indepth in 'Bonsai Inspirations 2'

san jose juniper bonsai

After removal of all the old bark (old live-veins) from the trunk.

Once the remaining live-veins, supporting the remaining foliage and branches on the tree, had been isolated, I could begin carving the resulting deadwood.

san jose juniper bonsai

Halfway through carving the San Jose Juniper bonsai.

The trunk had a large area of newly revealed deadwood that was very smooth and plain, in contrast with the bottom section that had previously been carved and refined. Using hand tools and carving machines, I created interest in the middle section of the trunk, by means of new hollows, fissures and grain. On the lower section I also exaggerated my previous work, increasing the depth of the hollows and grain to create a more powerful impact.

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