Welcome Home… Now Get to Work!


Kishu Shimpaku grafted on Sierra Juniper

It’s great to be home!  Though once I got home, there wasn’t much time for a vacation and I got right to work.  Combination of work and rebuilding the Bonsai business has kept me very busy and I know that many of you have been itching for a new post.  Sorry for such the long delay and thank you for your patience!  Now that things are starting to come together and I’m figuring out my schedule, I’m able to get in front of my nice new computer and get the posts rolling again.

First off, how do you like the new look of the website???  I decided to go with something more simple and clean to start off my professional bonsai career.  I moved the links into its own page which you can select in the menu bar above.  I have also updated my, “About Me,” page  and will expand on the, “Services,” page with cost and specific information about the services.  That will be coming soon.  Other than that, everything on the site is pretty much the same and easy to view and navigate as before.

So some of you are wondering what the picture of the shimpaku above is all about.  Well, let me tell you the story, because it all started before I even left for Japan.  Lets begin three days before the above photo was taken…

IMG_3909Before (October 3, 2010)

Sorry for the poor photo quality.  It’s actually a picture of a picture since I couldn’t find the digital copy.  Anyways, here is a photo of the tree before I worked on it back in 2010.  This is a Sierra Juniper trunk with Kishu Shimpaku foliage grafted on.  The grafts were done by Boon Manakitivipart over 15 years ago at about the time he came back from his apprenticeship in Japan.  He had purchased this tree at the first GSBF Lake Merritt auction.  The seller was Maz Imazuma, one of Boon’s earliest Bonsai teachers.

After the grafts took and were allow to grow, Boon went through the tree and bent the main branches down and left everything else to grow.  Fast forward to 2010 and I find this tree in front of me needing to be cut and wired.

At the time, I was getting ready for my apprenticeship to Japan and Boon suggested that this tree would be good practice before I leave.  This is one of the biggest trees I’ve ever wired at the time and I was excited!  After about three days of wiring, I was tired but satisfied.

shimpakuAfter (October 5, 2010)

It was a grueling three days but I finished the job.  This was the tree’s second ever styling.  The tree still has a way to go but it’s a good start and I was looking forward to seeing the future development.  At the time, I have never spend so much time wiring a single tree.  I think I wired almost every branch!  After wiring, I felt such a connection to the tree that I asked Boon if he would be willing to sell it.  He laughed and said, “really?…  okay, ask me again when you’re done with your apprenticeship.”  We both laughed and the tree went back on the bench in his garden.


Now it’s 2013 and I’m back from Japan.  Time to revisit the tree!


The tree was re-potted in 2011 and I Boon had thinned it and removed some branches.  It’s mainly been allow to fill in more and some new branches have been developed.  Since the tree was still at Boon’s house when I came home, it is now the newest addition to my collection.  😉  This tree is 44 inches (111cm) tall including the pot!  The tree itself is 37 inches (94cm) tall.

Juniper Work in Summer

Now that the tree is relaxing at my house, I decided to do some work on it.  Summer is a good time to go through the tree and remove old discarded foliage and some pruning.  Wiring can be done at this time too but I’ve decided to let the tree grow the rest of the year and then wire it in the Winter.  Lets look at the details of this tree before we get to work.

IMG_3887Here is the tree’s right

IMG_3888Here is the tree’s back

IMG_3889Here is the tree’s left.

IMG_3890Here is a close up of the deadwood at the base of the tree.

IMG_3891Here’s the upper part of the trunk.  In the past, some of the bulk wood was removed and there are tool marks still present.  I’ll have to go through the tree and clean those marks up in the future.  Lots of work to do!

IMG_3892Here is a close up of the nice green Kishu Juniper foliage.  I like this foliage for its dark green color and density.  It’s easy to work on a tree when it’s growing well.  🙂

IMG_3893Just a peak of the underside.  Lots of branches huh?  Oh there’ll be more in the future!

IMG_3894Here is a shot of the old grafts.  Other then the bump at the graft points, we can’t really tell it was grafted anymore.  There is a new technique being used now that doesn’t create the bump.  We’ll talk about that in a future post.  😉

IMG_3895Because the branch structure is still looks young, there will be some shorting of the terminal ends and continued development of the side branches.

A Question About the Front


One of the things I was thinking of doing to the tree in the future design is to tilt the tree to the left.  No firm decisions have been made yet but I feel that the balance of the trunk to foliage mass would work better, though much of the foliage has a way to go.  What’s more interesting is the two following pictures below.


So I also thought about rotating the front of the tree to the left and using this as the front instead.  Doesn’t the trunk look so much bigger?


Of course, then on the other side, the trunk looks so much skinnier.  Which do you prefer?  Thick or thin?  This looks like the original front back in 2010.

Lets Take Care of Business

IMG_3902This Shimpaku is female so there are some berries on the foliage.  As I went through the tree, I made it a point a remove them.  Trees will spend a tremendous amount of food to grow fruit so removing them will help redirect the food to the foliage instead.

IMG_3903I then went through the tree starting at the top and removed some of the old foliage.  Here is a small branch before I cleaned it up.

IMG_3904Here is the same branch after I cleaned it up.  This will help extend the terminal end of the branch and allow more light into the interior and lower areas of the tree.  This is a technique I can use to help promote faster tip growth.  I used a small pair of scissor to do this.

IMG_3906I also went through the tree looking for areas that had too many branches growing from the same point.  As you can see in the photo, there are three branches growing from one area.

IMG_3907I went ahead and removed the center branch.  Now there is plenty of room for the remaining branches to grow and this helps create a much cleaner looking branch structure.

IMG_3899Here’s an example of one foliage pad before I cleaned it.  Can’t see to much of my hand underneath all that.

IMG_3900Here’s what it looks like after I cleaned it.  Now you can see more of my hand!  Note that I didn’t cut any of the terminal ends because I wanted more extension of the tips.  If I were to cut the tree back and the terminal ends, this pad would be even more open.

IMG_3908Well there you have it.  After about 3 hours standing on a crate and cutting, this is what the tree looks like.  Now that more light can get into tree and the old foliage isn’t slowing down the growth tips, I expect more growth during the rest of the Summer and Fall.  Next year, the foliage mass will be just as dense again but larger overall.

IMG_3886Here’s the before photo again so that you can compare before and after.  The change is subtle.

The next time I work on this tree will be this coming winter.  In the mean time, I’m going to feed the tree well and allow it all to grow.  I’m also going to look for a large pot for this tree (not easy).  Stay tuned for that!

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

Thank you everyone for following the blog and welcoming me back home!  It’s great being home and I’ve worked with so many great people already!  Thanks for reading and I’ll keep the post coming.

To Great Bonsai and Having Fun!!!


If you are actively reading this blog, I would appreciate it if you subscribe to it (The subscribe button is below). This is one of the best ways for me to know how many people are reading. Thanks!

Tagged , , ,

39 thoughts on “Welcome Home… Now Get to Work!

  1. Andrew says:

    This is my first visit and it looks like I am extremely lucky with the timing – Your’e back.
    The Juniper is great.
    On the subject of tilting, I have a question. Depending on the incline will the foliage tend to ‘curl’ towards the light (light from above), which might detract from the near perfect specimen you already have.

  2. michael jeremiah bangalow nsw says:

    good to see you back

  3. Todd Ellis says:

    I loved reading your writeup on the Kishu Shimpaku juniper. A beautiful tree!. I can’t decided which front… they all have merit.

  4. Hello again Peter. Good to see you posting again. Wishing you all the best for your bright bonsai future and just a thank you once again for all the knowledge you so willingly gave me when I was with you in Japan.

  5. andre says:

    welcome home peter now its time to write the next chapter in your life as a bonsai professional wish you the best

  6. Peter Tea says:

    Thank you everyone for the welcome back! I’m glad that you guys like the new site and post. The front of the tree has yet to be decided but we’ll get that all sorted out in the Winter.

    Take care everyone!!!

  7. Adair Martin says:

    Hi Peter! The website looks great!

    I’m enjoying the pot I bought from you, just wish I had a tree worthy of it!

    The approach grafts you and I worked on are doing fine.

    Your lecture about how structure needs to be built first before pads and foliage was great.

    I hope to see you again in October.


  8. virgil says:

    Thank you for your time teaching and sharing your knowledge

  9. Dirk says:

    welcome back, I like it…

  10. Brenda says:

    Peter; I was excited to see a new post in my mailbox from you. Needless to say I’m so glad you’re back. I learn much from your postings. In fact, from this latest one I just learned I should be removing the fruit from my junipers….didn’t know this. Thanks and will stay tuned for your pot selection for this tree. And, by the way, I think it is an amazing specimen.

  11. Janet Roth says:

    The site looks great Peter!

  12. Renee Seely says:

    Peter, it is so good to have you back. I love your new website. The ‘Post Index’ is very well done – makes it easy to find articles! Love It.

  13. Welcome back home to the states Peter! I’m glad to finally start seeing some more post from u ;). Love the new tree and I like the original front but definitely with the new angle. Hopefully sometime u can make it out to the East side of the states :). Thanks again for all your info and sharing!

  14. JC says:

    Hi Peter

    Hope you enjoyed you break, glad to hear that you are back hard at it, Bonsai of course.

    Thanks for all the tips, much appreciated.

    Oh by the was the website is just how I like things unclutered & easy to navigate.

    Hastings Bonsai Group Port Mcquarrie NSW 2444, Australia.

  15. Bruce Winter says:

    Welcome home Peter! It’s been a long haul. Looking forward to more great posts. And it’s good to see one of Imazumi-san’s works live on.

  16. Ray says:

    Great to have you and your post back, i’ve always enjoyed your articles and knowledge.
    hope you make it to Vancouver, Canada someday.

  17. Ron says:

    Thanks Peter another great lesson

  18. Brian says:

    Welcome home Peter
    Will you be going back to Japan off and on. Seems all of you guys go back and forth to Japan to freshen up. When will you be allowed to bring live material back to the states.as in Canada our import laws are very restrictive. Glad your home and ready to blog. I find your method of instruction to be one of the best.
    All the best to you and good luck with your knew adventure.
    Qualicum Brian

  19. Penny Pawl says:

    Peter, it is so nice to see that one of Mas’ beautiful trips live on. I went on a collection trip with him once to Mammouth Mtn and still have a juniper I collected. It looks nothing like that special tree.


  20. Daniel Dolan says:

    Konnichi wa! This is Japanese for Good Day. And it is a good day to ask this question:

    If a 10-15 year old Shimpaku Juniper is in Aoki….imported form Japan…$45 per bag soil, is not affected by insects or fungi and lets just assume is receiving optimal care, feeding, watering, sunlight, has great color and is producing new long shoots…… What would cause this contented tree to produce juvenile, needle foliage in 5-6 scattered locations throughout the tree. In other words……what does this tree have to be stressed about?

    See….your back on the job already.

    Best regards,

  21. Jim Gremel says:

    Thanks for the great post!

    I was there when the tree was extracted from a garage-sized stone. Many people labored over it! I’ll look for a photo. BTW, the tree was more than twice as large. It was split during the digging and the large piece was eventually donated to the Weyerhaeuser Collection in Seattle.

  22. kodachiken senshi says:

    Nice work.
    But why not tilt the tree to the right ?
    And why rotate it ?..The beauty of the trunk is in its actual position .

  23. bonsology says:

    welcome home! Site looks great and a great addition to your collection of trees.

  24. LSBonsai says:

    Congrats on the new tree Peter! Welcome back, can’t wait to see what you have in store for us. – Aaron

  25. Judy Schmidt says:

    I’m glad to see that you are back home after so much work in Japan. I love your posts. The tree is magnificent.
    Looking forward to learning a lot from you.

  26. Judy Barto says:

    Welcome back, great to see new posts! I like the current front….
    and the website is nice and easy to navigate, but could use a bit of artistic touch on the headers and the framing perhaps?

  27. bruwno says:

    this tree looks good from all four sides but i really like your idea of moving to the left.

  28. Rick says:

    Welcome home Peter missed your posts. As a beginner your site is the only place to go for information. The pictures are a great help. Thank you for sharing your great talent.

  29. Byron Myrick says:

    Great job Peter, as to the trunk, I like the right skinny with lots of texture and movement, but the you would have to move some branches. Can’t wait to see what you do.

  30. Ron Heinen says:

    great Peter Tea post. I bet he will be a good instructor.

  31. snady789 says:

    Welcome back. It’s good to see you’re blogging again. I always get so much excellent information from you and help for my trees. Thanks again and great job!

  32. Donald says:

    Welcome back home Peter. Great job on your new site, very easy to navigate thru the site Can’t wait for you to start up the study groups.

  33. Dave Martin says:

    Looking forward to reading your posts again. Welcome home.

  34. Colin Gerrans says:

    Hi Peter

    Nice to have another news letter from you. When you advise home where is your home?
    Being in South Africa we are short of quality bonsai detail like you have demonstrated in your mail.

    Much appreciated.

    Colin Gerrans

  35. Paul Wycoff, REBS says:

    Welcome home Peter. Your posts from Japan were wonderful. I hope that I get to meet you when you come to Santa Rosa.

  36. Good to see you back at it Peter!

  37. Jeff says:

    Welcome home and excited to see that you are back posting again.

  38. Nice work Peter! The tree – and the new site – look great!

    • Tim Shea says:

      Hi Peter ,,glad you are back ,,,your posts are a welcome data filled look at works in progress,,, My Maples are all the better for last years — I have a # of Elms ,Am. Chinese , Catlin & Seiju — Do you have any plans to post work on Elms I have a Catlin that I let run for a few years & next spring plan on some hardwood cuttings { would love to hear from you on that } this is some old but plain stock from the elder Mr. Nagatashi ,his Elm stock came straight from Mr Catkin,,, thanks again Tim S

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: