Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Japanese Boxwood - better view

Japanese Boxwood #1

A few people were really interested to see a better picture of this tree (The photos I used last time I kept small so I could try to 'spice up' the blog post!). Here's a better picture - I really like the image this little tree is sending me!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Japanese Boxwood #1

Japanese Boxwood #1
Informal Style

Well... The bug bit me again today while out shopping today at a local hardware/gardening store for a few things for the house. This Japanese Boxwood nursery plant is going to become my next project today. For $5.99, the hours of work I put into it and enjoyment of the finished product are priceless, in my opinion. Oddly enough, many of the boxwoods of this size today looked like great 'potensai' - or, 'prebonsai' as it's termed by some. This little tree has a nice trunk already developed and looks nicely aged with rough bark deep into the top branches. Boxwood species are much like Holly; they can get 'sticky' after the branches mature past the fresh 'green' stage. They can be more difficult to Jin as the branches thicken. This tree has good motion hidden underneath these leaves!

A few hours of pruning, deleafing, bending and wiring (even got a guy wire in on this one) I can see the vision that the Boxwood was giving me the vibes of; The beginnings of a stately informal style tree. I'm no stickler for 'forms' or 'styles', but when one suits decidedly what I'm aiming for - I properly label it. An 'Informal' style tree means that for the most, the main trunk aims upward, but not 'straight' that it has some degree of bend or 'taper' in the main trunk(s).

Here is what will become the 'back' of the tree. Well honestly - I'm not sure yet which is front or back, there are strengths to both views (which means it'll look good from any angle, good radial of the branches as long as they all live through their Jinning!) Good exercise in wiring for me, I need to go back and re-wire and add wire to some existing trees to give them more direction - this tree certainly has shown me how much direction you can truly give with wire. The end goal in this Informal style, is for a very heavily rammified Crown to the tree. This will cause the leaves to grow smaller, and will also create thick, healthy growth that will thicken the crown of this Japanese Boxwood nicely.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tree underneath the Nursery beginnings - Informal Juniper #2

Juniper 'Blaauw'

Original picture of the tree, straight from the Nursery, and taking some time to get healthy. This little tree caught my eye, I love the motion in the trunk.. I've been nursing it to good health for a few months now, it felt right to go ahead and begin it's styling, as I also have a nice home for it in the 'Log Pot' - at least a starting home as it's root reduction begins.

Informal Juniper Beginnings

I will be leaving it in the pot throughout winter I do believe, as it's too close to the end of the year for such a cutback and root pruning at the same time in my opinion with this species (This isn't Privet!). A few branches were left to work some Jin into - look forward to working on this one again next year. This tree will go into the new 'Log Pot' that was made with the last batch of Pots.

All fired up

Bonsai Pots all fired and ready to go
They all made it! A bit brighter than we figured for some, but this is our chance to figure out what we want to do and to 'not do' when the pot making winter season hits us.

Mame pots

2 from Aaron, and my contribution on the right. These came out actually rather nice, 3 different styles of pot and painting - 3 new pieces of art. :)

Mame pots

Another side view of the nicer Mame pots that came out.

Log Pot

This will soon have a Juniper planted into it, pictures of that tree soon to follow. I like the textures on this pot and how the colors fell into the grooves.

Log Pot

Side view - no it's not perfect - it's hand made, not poured mold. It has 'character'.. :)

Aaron's Round Pot

This came out really well - great texture and aaron's selection of colors gives the impression of the pot sitting in a field of grass.

Aaron's Round Pot

Another view, this pot is fairly deep; not sure how it'll be used but whatever goes into it will certainly be enhanced by this creation.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fired and Painted

Painted and ready for glaze

Previously fired pots - have been painted and are awaiting glaze. Hope to have finished pots by this weekend, as I have a few things I'd like to move into new homes.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Shohin Privet #1 - Patience is a Virtue?

Virtues of Patience - and Styling
Before Wiring
We will see if loss of patience wins out over early styling - or if it even matters towards the final stages of this trees creation. I had such a great vision for this tree that I went ahead and put some wiring on it - .5 and 1.5mm's were used.
Early Wiring Complete
This wiring will not stay on more than a few months; likely around late October as things cool here I will remove the wire. Privet thickens quickly; wire left on a tree too long will leave scars that may take years to heal properly.. There are still many things left for this tree to get it in shape to be Bonsai; a better revealing Nebari, future work on the deadwood at the base of the trunk. continual thickening of the main branches, shortened internode length in future growth - and time and patience. Less or more of which? :)

Haha - Karate Kid Revealed?

As my Dad asked me recently - 'are you becoming a tall Mr. Miyagi?' This was all in jest and I got a kick out of it - as actually I was not at all turned on to Bonsai by those movies at all but my own personal life transformation and interests in Meditation and nature. So, to day I find a link on one of my favorite blogs to watch, Kitsune's blog, I saw this:

So I checked it out. Well, for my birthday June 22nd.. Karate Kid was released in 1984. So.. Hah!! Maybe I am... :)

Fired Bonsai Pots

Fired Bonsai Pots
These are mostly Mame sized Bonsai pots, created by myself and my friend Aaron. Will be painting and glazing this week and hopefully firing and viewing a finished creation next weekend. Winter will be full-on pot making season, this is just 1st runs to get the creative juices flowing and experience for what works - and what doesn't.

Shohin Privet #1

Shohin Privet Bonsai #1
The Dig
So, I got an itch this AM while my 2 girls were spending time at their cousin's, to go yamadori collecting (that is, to collect a tree or plant from nature). Not as difficult for me as for some, and I'm not 'too' hard to please at the moment - the free time being the decision maker! So - I took a wander down my backyard hillside into the wilderness. Lots of 'edge' plant material, and one that is hardy that I'm having fun working on that I have alot of - Privet! Here I find a specimen I'd already chopped earlier in the year as part of my 'clear the lot' project at the bottom of the hill. Time to collect my prepped Yamadori!
Yamadori Found!
Here you can see the previous 'low' cut I made earlier in the year, and also that I have completely cleared the root ball of soil. Privet are extremely hardy, not many species would I treat in such a manner, but that is the nature of Privet. Notice the thick growth this plant exhibits after being chopped, due to growing in the ground vs chopping and moving directly to a pot.
Much reduction of the root system and deciding how to layout it's future Nebari development at this point. Also reduction in foilage, to cause the re-growth to focus in places of Taper development. All 'downward' roots have been cut, thick roots reduced. The lead branches are not cut yet - I want them to thicken a bit more close to the trunk before I begin creation of it's crown.
Front View
The last pot I have from The Monk Monestary in Conyers, GA. from a run there months ago. Perfect fit for this future Shohin Bonsai. Shohin or 'Mame' Bonsai are the ultimate miniature powerhouses - ultimately they are the best examples of bonsai size reduction in all species in the Bonsai art. I am using a 70/30 Inorganic/organic mix of Sphagnum Moss, Turface, and Lava Rock.
Rear View
The cuts have been covered in cut sealant, the tree watered, it's held in with wire through the base to allow stability as I wire it's branches in a few weeks. Again, I take my time; I allow the plant to re-establish, allow new branches to develop, see which ones die from the root reduction and cut-back; then I begin light branch shaping. (Mainly with cuts to form taper)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Tulip poplar

Huge Tulip Poplar in my back yard - we have a few of them, and unrestrained growth and a river beyond. A bonsai collectors paradise in the form of yamadori galore. This tree gives me much Inspiration for the tiny tulip poplars that are just beginning in the 'hopeful garden'. I will have to measure, but I would estimate easily 100-120' Tall, with a diameter at the base of 10'+. I will measure soon and show - it's a Giant. (Notice the slope - we're on the edge of a flood plain, I'll have to show a pic from 5 years ago - there were 4 remnants of hurricanes that hit us in the time of 2 months - the floodwaters after the last 1 were halfway up this hill, easily 30'+ above flood level of the river way down below). Little River in Woodstock, GA, is what's behind us - wasn't so 'little!')

Tulip poplar

Annnd the crown of said Tulip Poplar Giant.. It's a beauty!

Holly Bonsai #1

Holly Bonsai #1

A more recent pic of the developing crown of the Holly - it's really popping right now, a great deal of new growth. Holly species are very 'sticky' - that is, they are hard to jin the branches, and develop motion; it's better to develop this movement and taper in Holly with cuts, and pinching early when it's still green. Looking to be a healthy tree, and fun next year to develop.

Holly Bonsai #1

Holly Bonsai #1

A better view further back of Holly #1 - I'm liking the pot selection as well, a bit large however the roots are still recovering from a severe cutback from 'stock' form. As this tree's crown develops, it will 'fill' into this pot in 2-3 years nicely.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Work table

Ugh, not attractive but frugal is the name of the Bonsai game for now. This is the work table, and also holds my partial light bonsai (starters, and a few Rose of Sharon I'm trying out). Also provides shade to many clippings and starters underneath.

10 Unknown truths and thoughts for Bonsai beginners

1. There is no such thing as 'Bonsai seed', or 'bonsai tree'. It's all in the care, pruning, rooting, and potting. Almost any sort of plant can be 'dwarfed' and appear as 'Bonsai'. Some species take to this more naturally and appealingly, than others.
2. Bonsai do not thicken well in pots - they must be allowed to grow unconstrained in the ground to reach appropriate trunk thickness. Chopping, develops taper. You will own more 'trunks' far longer than you will have finished bonsai if done properly while enjoying this Zenful practice. Think of it as 'tree farming'. :)
3. You 'can' replant your Mallsai (Those $20-$40 glued-in-stone creations from 'large' garden centers..) in the ground to regain trunk thickness - but will lose some existing natural Jin in the process. (A positive in my mind)
4. You don't have to go find a 100 yr old tree, to find good material. (It likely will be though)
5. Not all trees, are good material... :)
6. Don't let the bonsai addiction keep you pinned to small beginnings - go find a mature bonsai that you like, bring it home, learn how to care for it; watering, pruning, repotting. You will learn much from the care of a mature bonsai. As you grow your 'sticks' and captured 'yamadori' into future Bonsai, this knowledgable care will be passed on to your expanded collection.
7. Don't toss your 'sticks' out once you realize that's what they are - everything has it's place (not necessarially in the compost heap). They are great to develop 'habits' of tending and care. You might develop a nice looking tree out of them yet - with time and patience.
8. 'Do' invest in some unique species seeds if you have patience and time. This does allow complete control of the plant, especially it's taper in early stages. Just don't plan on calling it a bonsai for at the minimum 5-10 years. (It it's more than an addiction and is a passion - you will want a few like this in your collection at some point, to expand your species and available material for future trees).
9. Bonsai do not, live well inside, no matter what they tell you! Only a few species do ok in the home, and even less 'thrive' inside. Plan to give your trees good viewing locations outside. They are to be viewed and enjoyed, their energy felt! Our natural tendacy is to bring that inside with us - give them their world, and that is outside. Visit and tend them, in their world and you will be rewarded by their presence.
10. Create what you like, do not lock yourself into 'style' standards. It's good to seek opinions from others, share your work and gain input. Do not let it turn you off or hurt your Ego to hear hard truths about trees. In the same vein, take it all with a grain of salt; many bonsai masters or 'sculpters' think nothing of their comments, or the original design of the bonsai owner themselves when they review a tree. Many hold strict standards, while others have such high marks that an honestly beautiful tree may hear nothing more than 'looks ordinary'. That's great! Bonsai should look as regular trees - not all have to appear as if they are balanced on a cliff dangling for their lives. :)

Holly Bonsai #1

Holly Bonsai #1

This was a stock garden Holly (will have to re-discover the species) from my favorite Nursery.. It's been reduced greatly, with a few more branches calling for removal. I did not take them all at once - as I wanted to wait for it to re-root after it's root reduction as well, and see which branches survived naturally before making my final 'cuts'. Beginning to see a great deal of new growth, and a few branch die-offs as expected. Informal Style is in it's future.

The Beginnings, Juniper Cascade #1, Informal Juniper #1

Informal juniper headed to bunjin style soon, this was a gift from my Father in Law, for my birthday in June. Straight from the Monk Monestary in Conyers, GA. Great material, my first 'real' bonsai attempt. Much work still needs to be done, the pads need more attention and time to fill. Will look to remove more branches, as I feel the tree wishes to be more 'bunjin' style - less growth, with even more movement shown. Much smaller pot in the future as I continue to reduce it's root system and develop a good Nabari worth revealing. A few of my 'sticks' around it and a tropical to it's left that i need to re-identify (nice in it's own right, healthy grower)

Ragtag starter collection

Beginners sticks bonsai, as they are called. last years 'addiction' shows it's results. These will be real bonsai in.. 10 or so years, maybe.. But they are close to my heart so will continue to have a small table to themselves, as my Bonsai collection truly grows. Many small privet, and many small sweetgums. Will continue to keep them small in the 'Mame' pots. They have been good teachers to me, in preperation for what's to come. :)

2nd table

Starter table #2, a Trident Maple to the left, that has a knot from previous cutting in the bottom that I plan to 'wedge' open and hollow. Healthy tree, it's recently been de-leafed and repotted. Also from the Monk Monestary in Conyers, GA. A small privet, and a root over rock in development in the red pot in the back. Some sort of Japanese Rose in the far back, have to re-classify it soon as well, it actually has a interesting Nebari, but it's branches need vast reducing in size to improve it's form.


Cascade juniper #1, this began as a graden stock juniper 2 gallon plant. It turned into numerous cuttings for future plants, and a nice beginning Cascade Style of itself. The right branch will be allowed to extend down while the middle and left will end in large pads and 'hang' close to where they are now. The top is just now being wired, another picture below shows it's beginning.

Juniper 'blaauw'

Pre bonsai material, was in the 50% off pile so I got it for 2.47 with tax at my most favorite Nursery.. I've nursed it back to health, and am happy with it's natural Jin in the trunk. Will repot in spring and begin styling next year.

Cascade Style Juniper

Cascade Juniper #1, is in a Korean Clay pot that was purchased while on a Vacation in Nags Head, NC. Our next trip there, I plan to buy many more for cascade, absolutely beautiful glaze, sized well for a good Cascade styled tree. Here you can see the very beginnings of the 'tree on top of a tree' (Naka) styling of it's top that I plan to create.

Hopeful garden

Pre bonsai stock, it's terrible from above, but down in and close, and you can see many privet, a few sweetgum, a couple of tulip poplar, and even a few juniper cuttings. I have other cuttings rooted in containers under my 'work' tables (not pictured here). The rather large plant on the left side is a great looking 2 trunk privet that next spring will have it's own pot and begin it's styling into a true bonsai. On the top right, a nicely thickened sweetgum, awaits more treatment after it roots. I plan to raise this area into a 10" raised wooden 'box', with tiles 12"-14" deep in the soil to prevent long taproots from developing, and to encourage radial Nabari growth. (along with toruniquet usage!)

Privet Hack

Bonsai in process, will have to rethink how I take photos as I don't seem able to rotate them when posted from my phone (technology in use!). Here is a rather large (and thick) Privet in a nice pot. This tree is going to belong to my best friend Aaron however I am going to help style and give him some assistance where needed as it grows. We intend to shorten it greatly, I'm waiting for it to back bud to select the best spot to make the next 'big cut'. Privet are rather hearty plants, and even in mid summer as it is, can take a root and trunk hacking, and rebud days later with good soil and treatment. (speaking of soils), I'm using a 100% inogranic on this one, a 'Turface' type material I got from Napa. (I will have to go into soil details soon I can see!)

Monday, August 3, 2009

What's it all about?

'Bodhisattva Bonsai' - each it's own word with profund meanings and depth; Both passions, if not goals I've set for myself. One a way of being, living a Mindful life with disciplined reactions and responses to the world based in harmony and rooted in Love. The other a recently re-discovered passion, and the main focus of my Blog, in it's own right a Zen-ful and insightful - if not meditative hobby/past-time/dedication/educational experience.

Some photos soon of some of my trees, sticks, works in progress, and things to share with everyone related to my Bonsai experience. I'll be displaying not only the bonsai themselves, but some of the practices of creating bonsai, tips on growing, methods of pruning, from my own experiences and knowledge gained from Masters of the art.



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