I'm taking a break from the Visiting apprentice posts, but I still have one more that i'd like to share from my trip to Japan. For today I want to share a tiny portion of this tree's story. I say tiny portion because when you're talking about Sierra Juniper yamadori, a few years can seem like a few months or maybe even just a few days to a tree that can live up to a couple thousand years old.
Here it is in Fall of 2012 right before being collected. The first sign which gave me hope that it might be collect-able was the soil around the tree. I was hoping to discover a mat of fine roots in this pocket of soil on top of granite. The idea is to get under the mat of roots and scoop the tree up with a nice intact root ball. However, it's difficult to tell with a tree like this until you get down near the base of the tree to clear away the duff around the base and examine what's going on with the roots. Junipers that are collectable are on the rare side, the vast majority are not in collectable situations.
Fortunately, I was able to remove this tree with a large root ball. While it might not look that big, It always makes me smile because trees always look smaller to me when I'm in the mountains compared to when get them back home. Packing this back to my trunk turned out to be an intense work out.
Here we are back home on a rainy day after potting it up in 100% pumice. I ended up putting it in a wooden box I had laying around from an older project. I added four pieces of fence board along the corners of the box to fit the root ball a bit better. Looking back on this, I probably should have potted it up in something even smaller. All you really need is a box to fit the root ball with a tiny extra space and nothing more. In this picture, the foliage is blocking the majority of the interesting sections of the trunk. Large iced coffee cup for scale 😉
Looking into the interior showing off my favorite sections of the trunk. when styling this tree, I wanted this section to be much more visible.
Fast forwarding to a couple weekends ago here's the tree as of now. I jinned a section of branch on the secondary trunk and wired the small section of foliage in the middle of the trunk, moving it to the left. As you may notice the foliage color has changed a bit from a green/yellow color to a blue/green/grayish color. Unfortunately the foliage has also developed more of a weeping habit than any of my other Sierras which is something I'm not a fan of. However, this tree has never been transplanted and has a lot of mountain soil around the root ball. My other Sierra's have responded really well when I removed the mountain soil and replace it with akadama, pumice and lava over 2-3 repotting sessions. I hope some of the weeping characteristic goes away with time, or I will likely graft new foliage in the future.
Here's a couple close up shots showing the textured deadwood.
I didn't get a chance to clean up the live veins, but will do in the future.
I finally bought a raised camper shell for my truck, but it didn't come in time for transporting my tree. This should be the last time I have to use my ghetto pallet structure to block the wind:)
One small feature I'm wondering about is shown below. Lodged in this piece of deadwood is a funny shaped piece of something. I think maybe it's metal or lead, any guesses on what this might be? I think my best guess might be an old bullet, but i'm really not sure. I wonder when this might have happened.
Here we are back on my bench with my new copper watering can and water basin. I ordered the can from Japan through J-bonsai.com, which was the cheapest I could find and got the large pot from a place down in Gardena, CA. There are a few deciduous trees in my yard that I started using only rain water. The large pot is only filled with rain water to make dipping the can more convenient. This tree still has a long way to go, I hope I can improve it over time and eventually put it in a show. Thanks for reading, take care!