Tanuki Tanuki Tanuki

Wash your mouth out

This little tree almost broke my heart.

It was the first tree I ever styled at a workshop and the master was Salvatore Liporace. It was a juniper that had grown in a container on a friend of my father’s garage roof for over 25 years.  He was doing a clear out and gave it to my father. I got it from my dad.

Here I am working at it to my hearts content.

This is the finished tree and I must say I really loved it.

 

Salvatore and the Novice. Not pretty but the tree’s nice.

The workshop took place in Jan 2000. The following spring I reduced the root mass and potted the tree into a smaller pot but not a bonsai pot at this stage. IT DIED. I looked and looked at it wistfully for weeks, maybe even months, vainly wishing it back to life. Needless to say it didn’t happen.

Then somebody mentioned the T word:

Tanuki

Cheat, imposter, false. So the protests go but is there not a sense in which everything bonsai is false. Wild trees in pot, false jins, sharis, pruning branches and wiring.

I will never regain my youth but hey, I thought I could maybe regain a little of the beauty of that little tree. It just so happened that I had struck a few cuttings of a common juniper a year or so earlier and they were growing well.

I decided to strip all the dead branches off the dead tree and was left with the lower trunk which I denuded of all its bark, soaked it in bleach, wood preservative and then lime sulphur. I carved a track out of the trunk and attached the new sapling to it using cable ties etc. This was about 6 years ago. It grew well and eventually was ready for a bit of styling.

I deliberately mimicked the old tree and while it is still a work in progress the following image shows the tree today.

You know I still like it, principally because it’s all my own work.

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