Atlantic Blue Cedar (1950s)

This blue atlantic cedar was bought in 2004 from a private collector along with most of his collection.  It had always been quite healthy until 2010 when lack of water in the middle of summer set it back.  It was then potted into a poly box to regain strength.

In 2012, it had recovered quite well.  The decision was made to restyle the tree with the new front. The old front had one large unsightly root across the front nebari.  The left side of tree has better nebari and movement in the trunkline.

before restyling in 2012.

before restyling in 2012.

new front.

new front.

 

restyled with the new front.

restyled with the new front.

 

into bonsai pot in Oct 2013.

into bonsai pot in Oct 2013.

After presenting the tree to Hiro, he suggested :

1- move the third back branch more to the right so that it is more visible from the front.

2-in the next repotting, sit the tree lower in the soil so that the roots are not visible.

i specifically asked him about the my uncertainty of how i tried to shape the branches into multiple smaller foliage groups instead of one large pad. well, he seemed to like the branch placement so i guess he agreed.

here are photos of the tree at the moment.

after rewiring and readjusting the branch positions July2014.(front)

after rewiring and readjusting the branch positions July2014.(front)

(right side)

(right side)

(left side)

(left side)

(back)

(back)

this tree will continue to be refined as i am not 100% happy with the branch structures. i certainly hope to learn and discover more about branch placement in the future so that i can maximize the potential in this tree.

 

 

 

 

 

Informal Upright of Japanese Black Pine 2003

This Japanese black pine was bought as part of a private collection in 2003.  It was taken to Hiro in 2008 for critique and I expressed my discontent with the swelling midway through the trunk.  The suggestion was to make two trees: graft roots to the top half and once that’s taken , saw it off.

Well, after some thought on how hard it is technically to execute, it was decided to work on the tree as it is.

 

before any work.

before any work.

thinned out the needles.

thinned out the needles.

one major design issue became apparent after the needles were thinned out, the branch angles coming off the trunk were not downward enough. so before any more work took place, the branches were undercut halfway through 2-3 times then pulled down with wires.

undercut four main branches then tied them down into better positions.

undercut four main branches then tied them down into better positions.

once they were done, the majority of branches were wired into positions. i only wanted to set the branch structures correctly at the moment. fine wiring will happen when all the smaller inner buds become mature.

rest of the branches wired and placed in positions.(front)

rest of the branches wired and placed in positions.(front)

left view.

left view.

back view.

back view.

right view.

right view.

birdseye view.

birdseye view.

height: 86cm

width: 73cm

a couple more issues with the tree:

1) the first branch splits into 2 branches that turned sharply to the front and to the back, a result of incorrect pruning long time ago.

2) the second left branch and the back branch are bar branches. in the next styling, they will be positioned so that they appear on the different level.

both problems will be address next time.

 

to be continued………….

 

 

 

 

Informal Japanese Black Pine 2002

This Japanese black pine was purchased in 2012 after been grown in the ground and developed its branches since the early 1990s.  It has fairly decent nebari and branching structures, a credit to its initial grower.  After having been in the nursery for 2 years, it was time to finally work on it. the aim was to simply set the branching structures in the appropriate angles for further refinement down the track.

after having thinned out the older needles and shoot select back to two buds.

Old needles are thinned out and shoots are selected to two buds.

 

after wiring to set the branches in position.

after wiring to set the branches in position.

to be continued………………………………

 

 

How to Control Auxin?

Anyone who are interested in growing bonsai, will inevitably have to do three things to their trees in order to maintain and improve their bonsai :

1. pruning – the trunk, the branches, or the roots.

2. letting grow – the trunk, the branches, or the roots.

3, wire – the trunk, the branches, or the roots.

the basis of these three fundamental tasks evolves around our understanding of how trees grow. and the way trees grow is largely dictated by the presence of a growth hormone, auxin.

 

 

to be continued…………………….

how to grow sacrifice branches

one thing that all good bonsai have in common, is taper. having a tapered trunk and tapered branches gives a tree the look of maturity.

one common practice in achieving taper is by letting a trunk or a branch grow somewhat unchecked for a number of seasons. when the desired thickness is achieved, the trunk is often then cut back to a lower branch to form the new trunkline. and in the case of a branch, it is cut back to a bud closer to the trunk then regrow to give better taper.

however, there are some species of trees that do not readily produce back buds when cut back severely. this is when a low sacrifice branch can be encouraged to grow to thicken the lower portion of the trunk while the rest of the tree are controlled in their growth to direct more energy and vigour to the sacrifice branch.

This approach works especially well for pinus species.

 

 

to be continued…………………

 

semi cascade juniper

this juniper(not sure of its exact species) was bought as a neglected nursery stock in 2006. it had its first styling in 2012 and potted into the current pot. it had since been left to grow, neglected again.

with Hiro’s visit this year(2014), it was one of several trees presented to him to use as demonstration tree. he liked the jins and the over growth that was unintentionally happening. so he picked it.

the tree before the demo.

the tree before the demo.

showing the jins.

showing the jins.

 

 

to be continued……………….

 

Japanese Black Pine (Informal Upright Style) 2002

this japanese black pine came from one of the first private collections i bought in 2002. it was already fully wired at the time and looked rather impressive. however, it was never really heathy, needles are always slightly yellowish and it’s never budded vigourously with strong new growth. so it was kind of left aside untouched for quite some time, until now(04/01/2014).

not knowing what i was aiming to accomplish because i was happy with its original design. so i just started wiring, trying to tidy up the wild unattended branches into some sort of order.

as the wiring progressed, i soon realized a couple of issues with the tree.

first was, all but except the first branch, have pushed themselves upward or were not brought down from the beginning. the second issue was that the upper portion of the trunk had grown too tall for my liking. it was either cut it and replace with a new top, or some significant bending to bring the height down. well, i chose the latter.

before any work.

before any work.

three lower branches wired and arranged into position.

three lower branches wired and arranged into position.

a thick branch was undercut with a saw to facilitate the downward angle.

a thick branch was undercut with a saw to facilitate the downward angle.

the cut was applied with cut paste to protect the wound.

the cut was applied with cut paste to protect the wound.

the branch was brought down with heavy wire showing the gap completely closed up.

the branch was brought down with heavy wire showing the gap completely closed up.

this is a technique that i have tried with great success. what it does is, it removes the exccess hardwood that is in the way of the downward bend, resulting in a neater and cleaner angle. had i tried to push it down without the undercut, the upper portion of the branch tends to crack open, resulting in larger scar.

the upper portion of the trunk was wrapped in soft tyre tube in preparation of the bending. it served the purpose of preventing the trunk from splitting and breaking during the significant bend.

the upper portion of the trunk was wrapped in soft tyre tube in preparation of the bending. it served the purpose of preventing the trunk from splitting and breaking during the significant bend.

a clamp was used to bend the trunk down and tied with wire into position.

a clamp was used to bend the trunk down and tied with wire into position.

the result. a 90 degree bend.

the result. a 90 degree bend.

what this does is, it shortened the height of the tree and it pushed the apex back towards the centre. i think it suits the style better because it is not a slanting tree where the apex moves away from the trunk.

the branches wired before positioning .

the branches wired before positioning .

same branch from the front.

same branch from the front.

the same branch after all the secondary branches being fanned out and arranged into position.

the same branch after all the secondary branches being fanned out and arranged into position.

same branch after arrangement (front view).

same branch after arrangement (front view).

half way through.

half way through.

the work done for now.

the work done for now.

 

 

 

 

 

japanese black pine (bunjin style)

this japanese black pine came from one of the early private collections i bought in 2002. i have always struggled to really see the styling direction that i am happy with. the tree was more or less very centred with its trunk movement. being a tall and skinning tree, it had way too many branches to show the elegance and age.

in 2008, it was presented to Hirotoshi Saitoh from japan, hoping to get a more definitive and clear vision for the tree. his suggestion was making it a left moving tree and it was wired and styled accordingly shortly after. however, it just never looked right. but not having a better option, it sat on the bench for the next 6 years.

while walking around the nursery this morning(17/07/2014), i looked at it and felt it was time to take a closer look and study this tree.

making a tree with just the first right branch was an obvious drastic approach. however, with the consideration and respect for the age and character of the tree, i needed to find a more responsible solution.

what i don’t like about the tree:

1 – too many branches.

2 – the exiting downward angles of the branches from the trunk are not sharp enough to show age and maturity.

3 – left moving flow of the tree contradicted the right moving initial length of the trunk.

4 -the sharp bends at 2/3 of the way up the trunk, interrupted the gentle trunkline.

once i have identified those unappealing characteristics, it became clear what needed to be done. the tree was first tilted more to the right and forward to set the right moving flow. then all the long and  leggy growth were shortened.

with most unwanted branches pruned off.

with most unwanted branches pruned off.

in order to create the sharper downward angles of the branches, all the major branches were undercut with a fine-tooth saw 2-3 times to remove excess wood and then pulled down with wire. the trunk was wired with heavy copper wires to twist and bend to achieve a gentler trunkline.

undercut all major branches and wired and tied down.

undercut all major branches and wired and tied down.

the needles were thinned out and every single branch needed to be repositioned and often twisted set the buds and branchlets laterally. the following videos demonstrated this process.

 

the work completed. (front)

the work completed.
(front)

(right)

(right)

(back)

(back)

(left)

(left)

it now stands at 90cm tall. there are at least another 25% of the branches that could come off, but they are kept for now to re-establish the tree’s vigour and give me more refinement options next time.

 

to be continued…………

 

 

 

seed grown japanese white pine(1994)

after styling.

after styling.

this japanese white pine was grown from seed in 1994. it now measures just under 30cm. they are extremely hard to grow from seed because once they are germinated  into a little sapling, they will tend to stay like that for the next 7 years or so before they begin to grow. and many of them will not make it through that first 7 years.

its trunkline and movement was wired in the tenth year or so to set the future direction. after taking it to see Hirotoshi Saitoh to decide its styling last week(2/7/2014), it was recommended by him to use this side as the front( there were two other possibilities, sorry no before photos).

there are 3-4 branches that might eventually come off but they are kept for the moment to contribute to the overall growth and health of the tree.

the bonsai enthusiast