Ginepro Chinensis

This juniper owned by "Franchi Bonsai", was the subject of the demo held by master Minoru Akiyama in February 2012 at the exhibition “Sotto il cielo d’inverno”(Under the Winter Sky) in Pescia (Italy) at Franchi's Bonsai Center.

On this occasion I had the honour and the pleasure to assist Akiyama Sensei throughout the work.

Let's start with the choice of this tree: it was a quite big juniper chinensis. The vegetation was vigorous, abundant and so dense that you could not even see the trunk.




It was impossible to have any idea of the styling development unless we thinned out the vegetation.

Unfortunately, there was little time and a lot of work. Better to get started quickly!


The master began by cutting the big redundant branches in search of movement and valuable branches. I followed the master in all phases: from pruning to cleaning the trunk, from creating the shari and jin to applying the wire.


After a few hours of work here is the final result:

In order to help the tree recover soon, and to leave different styling option for the future, the Master preferred to keep more branches than strictly necessary.


After the work was completed, it was time to first strike a pose, and then, the handover! It will be my task to cultivate and style this tree!


By November of the same year, the feedback was nonpareil!


The branches had grown so abundantly and vigorously that they had been engraved by the wire.


After pruning and removing the wire.


Every year I pruned and cleaned the vegetation in order to thicken it. Within a couple of years the marks left by the wire have completely healed and there were no more visible signs.

By May 2014, having planned for their total removal, I made two air layerings on the right branch group.

In the winter of 2015 the plant grew and thickened abundantly. With the precious help of Lorenzo Agnoletti, we proceed to re-pot it (obviously, after having detached the two air layerings).


With a forklift we took the plant out of the pot so that we could comfortably process the root system and subsequently place it into the new (significantly smaller) cultivation pot.


And here we are: four years later I am ready for the second styling of the foliage.

The plant seen from four sides:



Right side




Left side


Some details of the trunk and dry wood still to be worked on:

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The tree's good health is confirmed by the ideal growth of the vegetation.


The styling work bagan with the cleaning of the bark: the larger bark flakes are removed either with a knife blade or a steel brush. Then everything is perfected with a brass brush (softer than the steel one).

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The work on the dead wood also started. I prefer to use hand tools to perfect and remove the bark. I will have time, during another session, to perfect everything, but for now was fine.

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The big jin on the right


Finally, the wire and the foliage styling.


The final result:



Left side




Right side


Detail of the first branch


The trunk: A lovely chromatic game between live wood and dry wood.


...and finally the team picture! 🙂


In the spring of 2019, I re-potted. The root system was further reduced in order to fit into a commensurate pot.

In August 2019 the juniper looked like this.








The work began with the usual cleaning of the bark. After removing the unrefined scales, I finished and smooth out the trunk with a brass brush.

After cleaning the bark and vegetation, I proceeded with wiring and eventually styling. I did not apply large wire (rarely above 2 mm), as the positions of the primary and secondary branches were not to be modified. If needed, I apply a guy wire.

The results of this long-lasting work is this:

Some close-ups: foliage and trunk.

In 2012 we started this project alongside a master like Minoru Akiyama. I was so impressed by the master's ability to go deep into inspiration, an ability to tap into a place that's all feeling, emotion and spirit. That's how he was quickly able to highlight the characteristics of a plant that's not easily intelligible. Since then I have taken great care of this tree and two additional styling and a couple of re-pottings brought the bonsai to today's result!

For my part, I am fully pleased with the outcome.