One of Simon Tembletts more well known creations is his Boulevard Juniper (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘boulevard’) but sadly of late this tree has been suffering from what Simon believes is natural dieback as opposed to a pest or disease problem. He puts the dieback down to mild moisture stress due to continued growth restricted to a shallow pot with unstable pot temperatures affecting the roots. That root dysfunction thus explains the canopy / foliage die back and even though this is very natural in a tree in the wild it is a significant issue on a bonsai tree.
This tree was originally bought as a small plant from a garden centre over 25 years ago and the dead branches that exist as part of the image were actually created as jins through the process of bark removal. The tree as it developed was full foliage all over and Simon has restyled the tree 2 or 3 times already over the years to settle on the current image. This was done through pulling the branches very tightly down towards the trunk and actually in some instances cracking the branches to aid bending.
The initial image was less pleasing but as the branch diameters increased as the tree grew they merged better wit the stem and appear to come out of the stem more naturally in a downward form. Thus the character and appearance of the tree has improved as it ages which was the aim. It developed into a stunning image of a bonsai and I first saw this tree at the 2011 Bonsai World Exhibition at Crawley where it really stood out for me.
However, due to the dieback, he will now need to restyle it again and Simon already has a million and one ideas on how he may achieve a new image from continuing to develop the struck by lightning style and create a new leader and another lightning strike down the trunk or even removing the whole apex. He could even change the front but the nebari is definitely better on the current front. Another option was to jin all the dead branches first and see what is left prior to making any further decisions in addition to re-potting it into a larger pot to aid with the recovery of the tree so we will have to wait and see what he does.
Here are some images of the tree in 2011 and now in November 2014…