Wind Swept

By April 19, 2017 No Comments

Creating a Windswept Style

I had this juniper and I never found  time to  style it, not until this morning.  Since I had some time I could dedicate to bonsai, I decided to give it a try.  For two years I have been watering and from time to time, I was feeding it, although I had to admit, that it was slightly neglected.  The fact that the foliage was at the end of long branches, it was hard for me to find the right style.  Knowing that, and after having a good look at it, I decided to give it a try and create a windswept style.  I never had a windswept before, so I would love to have that style in my bonsai collection.

Windswept is not an easy style to train a bonsai, first since you must find the right tree that can be trained into the windswept, and secondly, one has to design this style in an acceptable composition.  One problem I found in my juniper is that the secondary branches are too long and vegetation will be slightly far from the main trunk.  I will do my best to overcome that problem.

Windswept Style (Fukinagashi)

  1. The first impression when looking at a windswept bonsai style is that both the trunk and all the branches grow in one direction, as if blown by strong winds.
  2. The trunk and the branches should be slanted in the same direction.
  3. The branches should never grow upwards.
  4. The tree width should be greater than it’s height, while maintaining the proportion.
  5. Since heavy bending is needed to achieve a realistic overall tree, so drastic bends should be done over time to avoid damaging the tree.

The Full Process

The full process below was carried out in a week’s time, not to do lots of tension at one go.

Step 1:

To help me visualize the final result I did a quick sketch.  Sketching more than one possibility will help you do the right job.  This way I had a clear idea of how the end result will look and where to place every branch.

Step 2:

Cleaning the tree from any dead foliage, very fine branches close to the nebari.  This opened the tree for a better view.

Step 3:

Wiring the lowest branch and positioned it for its initial place.  Then carried the same process on the second branch.

Step 4:

To create space between the lower and the upper foliage, I debarked one branch and created a ‘jin’.  A jin is a branch that dried out.  Split the jin and after reducing it’s length, positioned the two halves to make it more interesting.  Dried the jin moisture to retain its shape,  using a small burner.

This process has a multi purpose:

  1. To dry wood moisture.
  2. Help to keep in position.
  3. Protect the branch by oxidization.
  4. Giving an aged look.

Step 5:

Wired another branch from the top to create a back branch.  This adds depth to the overall design of the tree.

Step 6:

Now that the style was taking shape, i returned to the lower branches to wire and positioned the tertiary branches and foliage creating the lower pads.  After cutting away excessive foliage, I brought the foliage as close as possible to the main trunk by twisting and bending the branches.  This way the foliage was closer to the trunk maintaining the overall composition.  The twisted secondary branches were hidden by their own foliage.

Step 7:

Windswept style does not have vigorous foliage due to the strong winds it’s suppose to live in, so a branch was eliminated to add space between the lower and the upper branches.  I did not eliminate the branch completely , so I debarked it to create a jin.   To add more character, i resized the jin and split it in two.  The empty space between the foliage gives an nicer overall look.

Step 8:

I turned my attention to the upper foliage.  The lower foliage indicated the triangular space I had to work in, so I wired and bend into positions the secondary branches and foliage.  To make the windswept having a more natural look, I wanted to have less foliage on the upper part of the tree, to stress that the harsh wind conditioned the foliage growth.

Step 9:

The branch that was going to be the tree apex was wired and positioned.

Step 10:

Three other branches on the main trunk were also jinned.  This will indicate that the tree suffered from harsh weather.  Using a small blow torch, I oxidized the newly jinned branches.


Step 11:

Watered the tree thoroughly and placed in a shady area for few weeks.  To help the tree overcome the stress due to heavy bending and pruning, I sprayed it with ‘Megafol’ from Valagro.  I will spray it again in 15 days.

Style Refinement

Once the tree shows signs of recovery from the tension created by the pruning, wiring and bending of the branches, I will start bending the main trunk into the branches direction.  I will also start refining each foliage pad, starting from the lower pads walking towards the apex.

I will keep you updated on this windswept design since it needs more refinement, something I will do in the future.


Martin Abela

Author Martin Abela

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