Al Keppler - Trees, Stones and Stands

The work continues….

15. July 2007 Kategorie Uncategorized

Last weekend I was able to prune back my foemina forest. The trees are doing well together and the foliage seems to mesh well together. This forest was the joining of two forests this last spring. I had the trees in two pots and was able to bring them together to make one large forest. The pot is 35 inches long and the tallest tree is 38 inches tall.


During the last few weeks I have also pruned back hard a foemina juniper as a stand alone tree in the formal upright form. I started with a rather overgrown tree that had been styled many years ago. I had not started the tree, but had not worked on it since I aquired it three years ago. I pruned it back hard and pulled some branches down.  It will take a few years for the trunk to set, but I’m in no hurry. Last photo shows a possible virtual of one direction.


The large common myrtle I am working on also recieved some additional pruning work and some new wireing for the rest of the summer. The trees grows very fast and has to be wired nearly every three months. This last bit of work was very encouraging since it had been some time since I had really looked at how the branches were developing. The branches that I had previously wired have held their shape and were almost as large or larger than a pencil now. The first picture shows the new wireing, while the second pic shows a possible virtual of a future. The last two photos show the new bud breaks along pruned branches and how fast they can ramify.


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24. June 2007 Kategorie Uncategorized

Worked on a few things around the yard this weekend. I managed to air layer a Henry’s Hornbeam. The plant was growing way too fast to manage and the top became very overgrown. I cut it back several times but it seemed to grow harder than any hornbeam I have ever seen.


 I decided to graft a branch on my double trunk pyracantha. I had a couple leaders in the back that could be manipulated to be grafted where I wanted them. After cutting the trunk the whip was grafted in and sealed. I kept it in place with a piece of drainage mesh and some wire. If the branch takes, it will help to fill a void that the plant has had ever since I took the third trunk off.


Sunday I dug out this foemina juniper that had been hidden behind some collected junipers. I dug it free of the ground since the roots had bolted thru the drainage holes. It was heavily pruned back and several hours were needed to clean all the dead and brown needles at the bases of many of the branches. Many pin head size buds were in the base areas and they will soon emerge with fresh air and sunlight.

 A 5/8 steel rod was affixed to the trunk to help pull it back to upright. It may take a year or more for it to hold. Then again it may never hold. The tree is 32 inches tall and has a 3.5 inch basel flare, with the trunk being 2.5 inches above the flare.


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Weekend in My Backyard

20. May 2007 Kategorie Uncategorized

The weather has been awesome the last few days. Seasonal temps and no records broken. This weekend was used to enlarge some of my bench work for more trees. I added a shelf all the way around the Shohin area and landscaped an area of my yard for two table to hold some large junipers.

 The shohin area was really cramped and I had trees all over the place. Adding another shelf really made the trees stand out and gave them some much needed breathing room.



The shelf I added was only six inches wide and so smaller mame trees and smaller shohin are on that shelf. It can also be used for some of my accents too. I took all the trees off the shelves to give them a coat of linseed oil for weathering. Redwood will almost last forever if it is kept oiled. With many of the shohin trees out of the way and in their own place, I had more room for larger trees too. I was able to get many of the off the groiund and on to shelves.


I had an area of my backyard that was in need of some landscaping and I spent most of the day Sunday renovating this area. I made a table for a very large Foemina Juniper Forest. I like the design and think the wood between the blocks adds some texture and gives it a little Asian feel. The California Juniper Semi Cascade had been in the back of the small hill for a few months and really needed a place to grow and recieve air and sunlight. I built a table from two different size concrete blocks with some pink granite toppers for tops. I think this display is very inovative and looks equally as good. Landscaped and ground cover bark really helps make it look attractive. Notice that to the left of the cascade is a new coral bark maple tree that my wife wanted. This is a very nice addition to the garden. These are most awesome in winter when the leaves are gone and the bark is almost neon. I can’t wait. The final picture shows a table I built a few months back for my very large myrtle tree.



After all the work was done I could sit back and relax and sip a cold beer and reflect on what I acomplished. This is a few shots of the whole back yard bonsai viewing area.


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Spring Festival at the Lee

6. May 2007 Kategorie Uncategorized

April 22 saw the seventh annual Spring Festival at the Lee Institute for Japanese art. The curator of the bonsai collection, Bob Hilvers, has nearly finished the permanent display portion for the collection. This year had many notebles for the festival. Harry Hirao came and picked out the spot where his donation tree will go. That is, as soon as his family decides which one is worthy enough. He had one picked out for us but the family said it wasn’t good enough. We will hope for the future and keep his spot open.  Many of the trees there are from benifactors and are legacy trees from fallen artists. We have a tree from John Naka, Sherwin Animoto, and many more whose name escapes me.     The California juniper is from Sherwins wife and the larger rounded top elm is from John Naka while still alive.

 Kenji Miyata

Once again Kenji was on hand to do the demo at the festival. He worked on a California juniper donated by Joe James of Southern California and the driver for Harry Hirao. This tree had good foliage and the trunk was very nice. Kenji set to work on his charge.


 The finished tree was beautiful and wired perfectly. Finished in a very traditional Japanese style, the tree looks awesome against the grey Hanford sky.

 Harry Hirao Working on club plants while taking a break. You just can’t keep a pair of pruners out of this guys hands.  Harry with freinds, Harry Hirao, Hideko Metaxis, and Joe James.

  My teacher Katsumi Kinoshita and Harry Hirao. Katsumi Kinoshita was just awarded the Agricultural Society of Japan Green and White Award ( Ryokuhaku-Juyukosho ) by the Consul General of Japan, Makoto Yamanaka. A very pretestigious award from the oldest organization in Japan.

Just prior to the event I was able to take my donation to the Lee in time for the Festival. I built a box for the tree to protect it from the wind on a 70MPH drive for 60 miles. It looks very nice in its new home.


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The orchids are blooming

6. May 2007 Kategorie Uncategorized

Today I have come back to my blog to write some things. The weather has finally stabilized here and the temps are more normal. Growing conditions have been very poor for me this spring due to lower temps. The wind is strong and picks up during the day but I can cope with that as long as there is sun.


My orchids are all blooming at the same time. I have them in the kitchen window facing north in a window box. they have never all bloomed at the sametime and I wanted to make sure I captured it here.

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Musings of a Maniac…aka “The Social Sledgehammer”

10. January 2007 Kategorie Uncategorized

Feb 26, 2007 Today I started the task of repotting the monster. The tree was dug from a landscape last January. During the year it put out an astonishing amount of new growth.

 The tree, a common myrtle, was removed and the soil raked back. I had to remove some of the bottom of the root ball with chain saw to get it to fit into the pot at the correct angle. The large pot below was prepared with heavy duty screen and 12 gauge copper wire to tie the tree in. Once it was settled in and tied securly, I removed much of the over growth that had grown so well the year before. Since I had cut the root ball back 50 percent, I felt that I needed to remove a like amount of the foliage. Branches were chosen for future style and wired for shape.   The tree is positioned in the pot with the previous back as the new front. The trunk shows better from this view and I think the added texture from carving out the large sacrs will help accentuate the huge trunk. The pot is 24″x20″x6′. The tree measures 24″ tall and has a 7″ trunk and a 10 inch root spread.*

Feb 24, 2007      Today I purchased a very large pot for a very large tree. The tree is going to be repotted tomorrow.

I have decided to put the tree into this very large pot due to the very agressive growth patterns of this species. By putting it into a pot now I can slow down the rapant growth of the branches and concentrate on building shape.*

Feb 18, 2007

Today I repotted a large elm forest. This composition is to be donated to the Lee Institute for Japanese Art. It is located in Hanford California.

More on this donation soon.

Feb 17, 2007

While looking around on my bench and doing some spring cleaning, I came across this juniper. It had really grown out over the past year and was in desperate need of thinning. I noticed all the needles inside had started to brown and elongate. When procumbens gets to this point they start to look ratty and get out of hand. The inside of the tree will start to die back and the twigs will wither and the inside will become hollow and the branches will have a pom pom effect that takes years to correct.

 I decided to invest the time today while repotting some other work. All the branches were pruned back hard to induce back budding. There are numerous buds already on most of the branches , so many of the twigs were cut back to promote the new growth. Some of the superfluous branches were converted to jin and others were cut off completely.

 The small juniper is 6″ tall and has a trunk at soil line of 1.25″. The tree will be pinched all year and I will update as the tree improves.*

Feb 11, 2007

  Did a repot of one of my small shohin trident maples. I have five of these in the works for the future. Two are along quite well and one is going to be just a little taller double trunk specimen. The other two are going to be a little larger also. The pot was special ordered and I recieved it last June 2006. I have been waiting all winter to place this trident in the appropriate pot. The pot is from Japan, the potter is Tatemoto and the kiln is Kengan.*

Feb 3, 2007

  Went on what could have been my last excursion with Harry Hirao to Mojave. We were able to take some good specimens from the area and I was able to work with Harry and help him dig three of his trees. I was able to find a pretty good one for myself and was able to dig that by lunch time. There is a possiblity of one final dig next month in march with all those that have dug with him before. If I am able to go I will also take in that dig too, if nothing but to spend some final time with this giving gentleman of the desert.  A pic of Harry under the shade of a huge juniper.*



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