My first attempt ever

Attended the east bay bonsai club’s monthly intro class taught in June by Tom Colby. Then attended the Suiseki and Shohin show last week. Bought a $15 basic juniper from the club table to try along with some basic tools and wire from Jonas and have been watching videos online and reading Jonas’ blog posts for beginners.

Here’s my before and after of my very first attempt!

Critique and comments welcomed!

No comments? I don’t even know if I did ok…

I think if you post more pictures from different angles, it might be easier to tell what is going on with your tree. Right now it mostly looks like you did a good job cleaning up your Shimpaku in preparation for future training.


Looks good Richard!

To help us gauge the work, can you include a photo where the camera is at the same level as the midpoint of the trunk from top to bottom?

It would also be interesting to hear how you approached the work or what you were trying to achieve.


Thanks for the comments. :slight_smile:

Here’s a better photo. What was I after? Anything that looked decent and somewhat like a bonsai! Pure 100% beginner so to get from my raw juniper to anything that looks even remotely like a bonsai with some wiring up and some beginner trimming was all I was after. I watched many videos on YouTube from Peter Chan and Eastern Leaf channels plus reading the beginner blog here on Bonsai Tonight. Lots of videos about how to start, lots of video about trimming and maintaining end results. So few videos show what’s in between! Anyway, I’ll be bringing this plant and a couple others to the August class. Looking forward to it. So many questions!

Thanks - the new photo helps! The first thing that comes to mind is the shape of the trunks. One way to think about how they are shaped is to try and create consistent or similar curves in each trunk. The idea is that the same natural forces acted on all of the trunks so we’d expect them to have similar movement.

I really like that you anchored the wire used to wire the trunk at left. The wire isn’t big enough to give shape to the trunk on the right. For that you’d need a larger size wire.

I’m also happy you left as much foliage on the tree as you did. I might leave a bit more, but you’re in the right ballpark :slight_smile:

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Thanks Jonas. Some great comments and guidance. I didn’t think about “create consistent or similar curves in each trunk.” but makes perfect sense. I’m really looking forward to learning more, practicing with new plants and expanding on this hobby. I’m an award-winning orchid grower and even have a few orchid hybrids registered with the Royal Horticultural Society and I’ve been an avid aquatic plant collector and grower (plants in fresh water fish tanks) for years too. Bonsai has me challenged though as it’s much more slow, and deliberate approach and more “zen” than my other two plant-related hobbies. I’m a follower of Taoism so it plays into my life’s philosophy well too. :slight_smile:


Thanks for the new photo Richard! I’d agree with Jonas about the movement of the trunks. Maybe you could make some adjustments and then let the tree gain some strength back. Great start and I have to say you were braver than I was with my first trees!

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