Peter's Bonsai Blog 


















This Squamata Meyeri Juniper was purchased in 2008.

This is the story of it's journey from a shrub, to a bonsai and beyond.......         

 This is the tree as seen in the nursery April 2008.  It is approximatly 1.3m tall.

The tree has tremendous trunk and root flare



After the initial chop

After the initial styling and creating some





    This is the tree after repotting in March 2009

           and in June 2010


The images below show how a new crown is being created on the tree.....



From the front you can see that a side branch has been wrapped with tape, wired and then bent up to form the new crown

From the rear you can see that the original

trunk has been cut to reduce the height of the tree, and that a metal bar is used to temporarily 

secure the branch on its new position



By February 2011 after just one growing season) the temporary support can be removed. Seen from the front, the steel and rubber protection have been removed, and the cut has been trimmed to create the appropriate amount of taper in the trunk.




 Seen from the rear the temporary steel has been removed , the cut area has been trimed and the wound painted over.


The tree is now starting to look like the original computer image



The tree in February 2011

The CGI in May 2009


The next stage is to let the crown grow and fill out a bit.



How to create dense foliage close to the trunk.

With this variety of juniper, the needles close to the trunk will die back naturally ( they usually turn brown in colour).  When they do you need to remove them with tweezers.   The technique  used to create denser foliage close to the trunk is to allow the growing tips on the branch to extend, and then cut them back (cut them, don't pinch them).  This action coupled with the removal of the dead inner needles will encourage back budding close to the trunk as shown.


In April 2011, I purchased a new pot for the tree - within 24 hours the tree was repotted.  The following images show that it had developed a good root system during the yast 2 years..



The tree in its new pot 11th April 2011

By October the tree has filled out a bit and I've lowered the branch on the right hand side.




 By May  of 2013 the tree had become unwell.  At this time I'd had this tree in a pot for about 5 years; I have repotted it twice in that time. It positively thrived after the last repot. Indeed it was so vigorous that I thinned out the foliage after Ayr Flower show in August 2012. Its been in a steady decline ever since. I recall that another of our members lost a Squamata the year before in similar circumstances. This is a variety that seems to thrive in this part of the world. I see them in gardens all over the West coast of Scotland, but never showing this type of problem. Perhaps it may be something to do with the fact that its in a pot, although I know Rob Atkinson has had one as a bonsai for many years without any problems.

Some better pictures of the damaged foliage

Having listened to various advice, I decided that I needed to re-pot the tree. This was in late May 2013, much later than I would have choosen to repot a tree.

As you can see it looks like a reasonably free draining mix.

However, when I got the tree out, I found that the material had broken down and was compacted, although it seemed to be draining OK. The root certainly filled the pot but not to the extent that I would call root bound as I have seen with other trees. The root ball was moist, but not wet, there were no signs of root rot, Vine weevil or any other bugs, but nor any new growth , I.E. no white tips on the roots. I felt that the Akadama had broken down a bit and you can see below that the fine material was accumulating at the base of the pot. Over the last few years, I have been in the habit of not using a separate drainage layer in the bottom of the pot, and the results of that are clearly shown in this picture
Having raked out the roots and removed as much of the fine material as I dared, I decided to replant the tree into a larger Mica pot.

I put in a drainage layer of large horticultural grit, and when the tree had been bedded and tied into the pot, I sprinkled a layer of Mycorrhizal fungi onto the exposed roots. I used a proprietary product called “Rootgrow”, followed by a mix of 33% Akadama, 30% cat litter, and 30% EZO grit.

 The image below shows how much coarser and free draining the mix is.

The picture below shows the tree in its new pot and soil mix.

I think the size of the pot is much more in proportion.


 I also sprayed the tree with a systemic fungicide called Systhane.This product is said to control a wide range of fungal diseases including black spot, powdery mildew, rust and scab.  The tree was then left to recover............................and to my surprise it did !   Almost every tip that had died back, produced a new shoot and by christmas 2013 the tree was ready for styling again.


 The saga continues.......... In March 2014 I noticed that the tree was again unwell.......exactly the same symtoms as before.  I treated it with Systhane and keep my fingers crossed, but  unfortunately it died, and I have no idea why.  I have cared for and nurtured this tree for 6 years.  It has brought me a lot of pleasure, and I have learnt a lot working on it.  It initially cost me £150.   The work I did significantly increased the value,........ but now its worth nothing. It seems to happen to all of us.  It's just a part of the hobby.

Squamata Meyeri ....  RIP.

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