Monday, May 17, 2010

Cotoneaster #1 Informal Shohin

Oddly enough, it's taken some time for a cotoneaster to join my collection.   I think I always had a perversion to the herringbone effect it's branches can do as the tree 'bushes' out.  Well, I found a species (or at least a specimen) that finally called to me.  I've always wanted a few, as I adore the little berries that cause the tree to resemble an apple tree in miniature.  They also put out great little flowers, and grow madly - a very busy tree (Something a beginner like me should have picked up some time ago to keep me 'busy').

So this little nursery stock tree came home with me, for $6+.  For species interests, it is cotoneaster adpressus or 'Little Gem'.   Alot less of the herringbone effect on this one, just alot of long branches, with a great deal of good growth close to the tree as well.   The trunk is what caught my attention; Usually I don't pay attention to certain species in Nurseries, as they grow them multiple plants to a pot (or raft them out) which may then sometimes 'fuse' with age into 1 trunk - or more often than not the young trunks are at the far reaches from each other 'in' the pot, making it almost uselesss for bonsai (outside of a forest setting)   This was one large trunk (Well, compared to it's mates!), all by itself, with a nice lean to it.  Wasn't as busy as the other multiple trunk ones - it was calling for some work!

Cotoneaster before any work

View from the top

Fun plant to work on, think I will have to find a few more cotoneasters with good trunk movement to add to the collection.   Pretty easy to wire, alot of branch options to work with.  This took about 2 1/2 hours from start to finish.

Trimmed and wired

Slightly higher view from the Front

I can see myself that I'm catching on to the old bonsai saying 'Less is More'.  I have a few pre-bonsai trees from last year that are aching for a little 'less' so that they have 'more' of a future - I'll have to cycle around to a few of these soon as well.

So this little guy will stay in it's pot until next spring, when I will repot possibly into a large 3 gal pot.  Looking to increase the girth here for another 2-3 years, and then it will begin working it's way into a pot.  (I'm going to be persistent and patient with that decision!).   This was a bit of early styling to get things where I want them and to direct the tree's energy where it would be best for branch building - then let it go wild for a while!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

CBS Morning Show - What Bonsai means

If you missed this, you'll appreciate this production from the CBS Morning Show.     All hail John Naka the father of Bonsai in the States, and every bonsai artist who openly shares their knowledge and art freely with others.

"They are important to me, I care.  I care..."
"Transforming a small tree, can transform your life."
"It's trees yes, but the beauty of it, is art."
"Bonsai is an artistic representation of nature, in miniature."
"They are not special trees; any plant with a woody trunk can be a bonsai.  Bonsai is the technique applied to the tree."

Japanese Boxwood - Now a true Bonsai

Well, it's becoming 'more' of a bonsai, I'll say that.  :)   This is the apex of my experience so far - of bonsai and homemade pottery combined.  In this instance this pot is actually the creation of my best friend Aaron, which I'll revisit as this post goes.    I finally feel like I am getting somewhere...  :)

Before - the Tree Trunk Pot of Aarons

This pots beginnings are better detailed in this post. 

Here are some finished pictures - glazed and ready for use.  Love this pot, Aaron's work on the trunks and branches that work into the foilage on the rim, is appreciated better in person..  The glazing is beautiful!

Picture from last season

This tree's beginnings are detailed in this post. 

Japanese boxwood before the transformation

This is a picture today that I took before my work.  The wire came off, and as you can see it survived the unusual winter we had very well, with a great deal of new growth showing.

Vast root reduction

As you can see, I reduced the roots a great deal vertically, so that it will fit into it's new home.  I did this by gently raking out the roots, sort of like picking hair apart from a bad perm (lol).  It was easy, as it seemed this tree wanted to be a bonsai; it has a very fiberous root system, with no real large, obnoxious roots that I had to wither down!  

Pot is prepared with wire and layer of soil

Something I've inspired Aaron to do in his future pot designs, is to add holes for 'wire'.  On this pot, I'm snaking wire through it's drainage holes to help hold the root ball down in the pot.  Ready for the tree!

Japanese Boxwood - in new home

I'm so excited!  This went so well; I've planned this tree's future out in my mind since my first work on this tree last year - and knew after Aaron's pot was glazed that this Boxwood would find it's home here; To work through the process with patience and to have a result like this - I can say I think that this is my 1st 'real' bonsai created on my own, from start to well.   Not finished, but looking like a bonsai.  There is still alot of work ahead; some more reduction, and then beginning the full ramification that I have planned for this tree.  It's future is an Informal style bonsai, with heavy ramification reducing the leaf size dramatically.

Close up of the trunk wired to hold root ball

Closer look at the base, the wire threaded through the root ball and gently twisted around the trunk, the soil (80% inorganic, 20% organic), and a nice little rock for effect (I dig rocks in the bonsai pots, the right rock can add depth and increase the image of landscape for the pot itself).

Yay!  A fun day and a productive, exciting experience.  Thanks to my wife for letting me indulge time today!  :)

The drive didn't die

My bonsai drive didn't die, but a good number of my starter 'sticks' did!  We had a rough winter, with numerous snowfall events where we had snow on the ground for many days (freezing, remelting, freezing - terrible for any potted plant, even worse for bonsai with shallow pots and root systems, that are also above ground.)  Most of my 'stick' bonsai in pots, died because they were so young their foilage did not protect their 'earth' properly so snow fell directly on to the soil and root systems - melting and refreezing a few times.  Also I did not winterize them fully as I'd planned.  (Lessons learned - the hard way..)   But..  there's alot to share as I've not been idle, and there are alot of things to show off!   Wintering lessons learned, this year will be different indeed.

Left garden box - future bonsai privet, sweetgum maple, red maple, boxwoods

With the help of my best friend Aaron, who's joined me on this bonsai and pottery adventure (more to share on that later), we built 2 garden boxes, this is one (will save pictures of the other for later in the season, you'll see why then!)   In this box, are many large girth trees and bush/tree species that I've collected from my back woods last year, and were placed into the ground and allowed to grow 'wild'.  These are some big babies, that are all thriving as spring as arrived.  We built and moved these trees from one side of my garden to the other, which allowed the reduction and 'shallowing' of their root systems - priming for the future!  It's hard to capture this, but it's exciting to see the future branches thickening before my eyes (the real secret to good bonsai - is allowing for proper growth and thickness of branches in the early stages!  A lesson I've been shown and now produced on my own with terrific results.

Nice form from a Privet Bonsai

Just a quick picture of one of the survivors from winter - it was not exposed to snow (much) but was also in a deep training pot, which kept it alive.   I love it's movement, this one will be a project next spring, letting it stregthen and grow out it's future main branches.  This will remain a shohin bonsai, with it's great trunk movement.  I'm excited about it, as privet are generally a straight 'upward' growth plant, only snaking when forced by other growth to fight for sunlight.   This one was found literally partly crushed by a downed tree, and forced into extreme cicrumstances to get sunlight.  Privet, are extremely hardy..  When winterized properly.. *sigh*

Large Azalea begins bonsai life

This used to be an azalea bush that was nearly as tall as me (over 6 foot) that was in front of my house.  My wife and I are in the middle of a transformation of our front yard and landscape, so a few old azaleas became my 'babies' for some truly inspiring, large flowering azalea bonsai.   This is a beast!  It is approx 12" girth, and is sitting in a large garden container, after much reduction already of it's roots.  You can see it's size slightly in comparison to my children's swing set that it currently sits next to.   Azealas can produce new growth even on extremely old wood, and as I've already found in many places, it is already beginning to send new shoots out in all different directions for future branch selections..  This will be alot of work, and much for me to learn in the process.  Species?  I'll work on this, but it puts out beautiful large, white flowers.

Large Azalea #2

Here is another, and posibly more attractive flowing trunk on this azalea and nearly as large girth-wise as 'The Beast'.  I was able to reduce this one's root system a little closer, and as the other - both are healthy, thriving, and showing new groth already on very old wood (Both date from the building of the home originally in 1991, and I"m sure even at that time, they were a few years old.  That puts both I'd estimate at around 22-26 years old, in my opinion.  (They are really big!!)  This one is approx 11" girth around.   I'm seeing a great tree in the future!  I don't recall if this one was one of the white flower, or pink flower azaleas from the front - not sure I will see with this season, as the flowering time is already upon us, and I reduced these really right as they were beginning to send out buds.   Time and patience..  :)

SO much more to tell, but this is a blog - not a novel..  The drive didn't die, if anything it's increased.  I've learned so much through trial and error - and experience now.   I'm not pleased that my little trees died, I had alot of hope for producing 'trees' years from now that I could say were my 'originals', but..  Lessons learned.   My azaleas and garden trees have bright futures ahead of them.  :)

Home & Garden Blogs submit to reddit Blogarama - Blog Directory blog search directory Hobbies Blogs - Blog Rankings Blogs lists and reviews Blog Directory Bodhisattva Bonsai - Blogged Blog Ratings Web Directory Top Blogs - Increase SEO of Your Blog, Blogging Resources Gardening Blogroll Center Award Winning Home and Garden Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory