Demonstration by Jay McDonald

Procumbens Nana Juniper Demonstration by Jay McDonald

On January 22, 2019, Jay McDonald was the guest demonstrator for the monthly REBS meeting. Jay has been interested in bonsai for almost 20 years. He studied under the Sensei Kathy Shaner and various other bonsai masters. Jay’s personal collection of bonsai is remarkable at about 25 bonsai. He brought for show and tell several of his mature bonsai, Ume, Olive and Japanese Larch (see images).

Jay’s demonstration tree was a Procumbens nana juniper, about 30 years old. The juniper was purchased from Bob Shimon of Mendocino Coast Bonsai. The juniper was grown in southern California for bonsai and displayed a lot movement in the trunk. Jay worked on the tree before bringing it to the demonstration. He cleaned up the foliage and removed any large branches that were no in proportion to the tree and trunk. He also did some pre-wiring of the demonstration tree.

Jay emphasized proportion of branches to diameter of the trunk and other branches. You can’t have larger branches near the top with smaller branches below them. The larger branches would be out of proportion and need to be removed by cutting them off or by cutting them short and making jins (deadwood) out of them. 

Deadwood on junipers is essential. Jay pointed out some branches he stripped the bark off of and made in to jins. In order to create age and interesting characteristics in junipers, Jay said deadwood features are important.

Wiring the whole tree. Jay said bonsai is wiring. Wiring the whole tree is also important to creating bonsai with age and movement of the branches. Jay made it clear that he desired the wiring of the whole tree, including the small twig like branches. Wiring is controlling the movement and flow of bonsai design. He highlighted the purpose of wiring as creating movement, taper and interest.

Fertilizer. Jay believes in fertilizing his bonsai and starting early around the end of January. He has used an assortment of fertilizer, including organic and chemical. He will used Miracle Gro on his bonsai to give them a boost in growth when trying to build his bonsai. He then will use organic fertilizer when his bonsai are more mature and slower growth is desirable.

In finishing the demonstration bonsai, Jay applied a generous amount of moss to the top soil. Jay said moss is the proper manner in which to display bonsai. The moss can be removed when not displaying the bonsai.

Upon completion of demonstration, a raffle of the Procumbens nana juniper was held and club member Paul Wycoff won the bonsai.

Demo Bonsai – Procumbens nana juniper