Esprit Bonsai International – August 2019

(Nancy Kaufman) #1
#101 EspritBonsaiInternational - 35

Its round berries turn red when ripe,
while those of other junipers are blue.
Although resistant to severe frost,
it prefers heat. It is widespread in the
valleys of the Corbières mountain
range, and rarely seen at altitudes
above 500 to 600  metres (1,640 to
1,970 feet). However, I have spotted
a few at around 1,000 metres (3,280
feet), on an unlikely spur, below a sum-
mit, facing due north into the icy win-
ter winds. When these are blowing, the
temperature can go as low as -10°C
to -20°C (14°F to -4°F), sometimes
for weeks on end – testimony to the
species’s capacity to grow in the most
hostile of environments.

Spiralling wood
Junipers are renowned for the aes-
thetic and sculptural qualities of their
deadwood; and when the deadwood
has twisting and turning live veins run-
ning over it, you have reached the
“Holy Grail”.
Besides the tree being of an
advanced age, several parameters
are needed in order to obtain these
sorts of results: the verticality of the
place where the tree is living helps
produce twists by applying opposing
constraints on the trunks. Constant-
ly being dragged downwards by their
weight and increasing dangling, the

Live veins
often take
on spiral

This trunk with its
draped, scrolling
forms shows
that sculptures
produced by
Nature’s own
genius are
without equal.

The initial styling exercise may seem rough, but
a clearer structure is taking shape within.

Some live veins had to be separated from the
deadwood so that they could be modified.

trees exert effort to oppose these
forces, turning upwards and growing
towards the light.
Over time, junipers form auton-
omous lifelines, each of which sus-
tains a specific part of the foliage.
Some conditioning can be useful to
compensate for the ups and downs
of their challenging living conditions.
When they suffer damage from falling
rocks, overly strong gusts of wind or
long periods of drought, the surviving
parts continue to develop, unweak-
ened, without interruption. But as
their growth is perturbed by 
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