Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Canadian Hemlock Bonsai takes form

I was in the midst of a bonsai creation flurry, and did not get a good 'before' shot of this plant - but if you've seen Canadian Hemlock at nurseries, then you know what this looked like.  Here's a pic when I realized I should be taking pictures - you can see the mound of growth I've already taken off at this point.

Looks rather lonely there in the pot!

I wired up the 2 main branches, and did a little more trimming.  This species interests me because of it's close resemblance to Yew trees, albiet this Canadian hemlock seems a bit daintier.  I have a good image in mind of where to take this one, but for now it has a shady spot and will get plenty of time for it to decide where to go.

Alberta Spruce reveals itself

I got this little tree, for $1 in the discards at a nursery.  It was half brown, and looked like it had no future other than the compost pile..  But I took it in feeling bad for it sitting there all alone.   After a year of reviving it back to good health with new growth popping everywhere, I thought it time to turn this 'mini christmas tree' into the beginnings of a Bonsai.  This is a Dwarf Alberta Spruce.

As you can see alot of wild growth, and if you notice, it's apex branches are..  well non-existant!  This is the part of the tree that 'had' died (it's crown).  

Again I haven't wired yet, I want to 'see' what it's going to do after such a reduction.  You can see the top of the trunk has been jinned back to the line of bark still living.  The side branches will be reduced more in the future hopefully after new growth appears.

European Boxwood Shohin Bonsai on the way

This little guy is going to be styled in the classic 'broom' style.  As you can see it's already naturally close.  Still needs wiring, but as usual I want to see what branches survive the brutal initial cut-back before I get into wiring.  Also I will better be able to determine the stronger branches, and what to keep or not keep.

Initial Picture before any work done.  Strong little tree!

Much reduction and defoilation so that I could better see what I was working with.  Boxwoods rebound quickly, so this little tree should blossom back quickly with a little shade, water, and attention!

Little Laceleaf Maple trees for my Girls

Last year I'd put 2 tiny Privet into small pots for my 2 little girls - unfortunately their trees were among my losses from our vicious winter (and my poor 1st attempt at winterizing my trees).  So, I replaced them with a few saplings from a large number of seedlings I planted last year.  I thought these to be 'lace leaf' maple trees, but I'm now not too sure; The bark on mature trees peels like paper bark, revealing rich oranges and browns beneath.  The leaves closely resemble a Trident Maple.  I will work on the correct species.  The seeds were collected from a local park with lace leaf trees that were loaded with ripe seeds in season last Autumn.

I'm using seashell material on 2 of the pots.   We recently were on a family beach trip to The Outer Banks in North Carolina.  While there, I thought that this light airy shell material might do well for soil for some bonsai! This is shell material gathered with the tides; any beach you can goto, if you dig a few inches down you reach this 'shell' layer that is crumpled, and quite fine.  We'll see how they do compared to a more 'regular' pea stone w/ bark mixture (The shell plants also have some organic material mixed in underneath the top shell cover).

Juniper Shohin Bonsai in the works

Another nursery Juniper found it's way home a few weeks ago.  I'm really getting into the Junipers - I'm 2000 miles away from infamous California species, I'll have to see what grows naturally in the Appalachians here and try to piece together a yamadori trip  (I've spotted some nice Junipers on top of Stone Mountain, so there must be a few species that could be found in these parts or a little further north in the App. Mtns. I'd imagine).

Pretty standard Nursery plant!  Albiet it was extremely healthy and putting out a good amount of 'adult' needles.  Luckily I thought to grab a picture before I removed too much.

Closer look at the trunk after some more branches are removed.  When I purchased the nursery plant I looked deep in the heart of the tree to see what was there, and saw a decently beginning upright trunk.  Almost all my Junipers I have are trained as Cascade (follows the plants normal growing characteristics), this one will be different.

I didn't work on this tree for 2 weeks after I got close to the trunk; I had surgery, and it took awhile before I was able to sit upright for any length of time and tackle a tree.  So when I got back to it, you can see I lost a lower branch that got Jinned instead, and some trims on top had turned brown already.  Either the jinned branch, or the one opposite from it will be eventually removed, I'm thinking the left branch to give the tree some balance.  (It looks like all the branches are from the left side, some balance and hopeful new growth will provide places for the tree to go).

Future work will involve working the green growth pads some (pinching, wiring), just letting it get used to having so much removed already, before I decide what else to do.

Beast of an Azalea

Earlier in the year I showed a quick picture of 2 rather large azalea's that used to be in my front yard landscaping - that got pulled out to make room for some more delicate plant material in the front of the house.  This is an update on 1 Azalea (The other is still sitting in a large garden pot), how it's progressing and what it looks like.  Still not too sure of the species, but not one generally used for bonsai because it has large leaves (For Azaleas).  Because the tree/bush itself is large, having larger leaves may work out ok in it's final presentation - years from now, once good ramification has occurred and the leaves reduce somewhat in size.

Here it is again, back in early May a few weeks after coming out of the ground, being hacked from a 6ft bush back to what you see, and already putting out a good amount of new growth on old wood.

In a large resin bonsai training pot from BonsaiMonk 3 weeks ago.

This past weekend, showing tremendous amount of new shoots on old wood and some newer branches I'm holding on to for now.   For having removed so much of the rootball I'm encouraged by it's rebound.  A shady spot and plenty of water through these hot months should have it's vigor recover fully.  Some light liquid oraganic fertilizer is being applied every other day (misted on).

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Now things are cooking - it's hot outside

It's pretty hot right now in the southeast US, in fact the entire east coast is having a heat wave with temps 100+ for many days straight.   Excessively high temperatures can be stress for any tree or plant - especially species that are not growing in their 'home' Zone, sometimes even humidity levels being the single downfall - temperature aside.  Watering during these hot periods is essential to your trees surviving heat waves such as this - proper watering that is.   Early morning and late evenings are the best times - no direct sunlight of intensity on the plants so they aren't burned by water droplets on leaves, and also not evaporating away before reaching the roots properly.  You hear a great deal about over-watering in Bonsai, but I have to say I don't think that's quite possible given the current heat wave.  I'm sure I'm still not being generous enough to them, but they are all happily sending new growth everywhere so my mix of fertilizing heavily in spring and good watering now seems to be paying off as it should.

Being hot, you could say that my trip to the closest thing to 'Bonsai Heaven' within a good 200-300 miles I'd estimate of my home, wasn't such a good idea in the middle of an afternoon?  (I probably lost a few pounds just in water!)   So what is bonsai heaven do you ask?   Plant City Bonsai located in North Georgia, about 1 1/2 hours from my home - no matter how you try to skirt Atlanta's parking lots - I mean Interstates!

I was lucky enough to meet the owner of Plant City and Bonsai artist Steve Cratty while there, and really gained a good deal of insight just from walking around his gardens and hearing his thoughts on Bonsai, my choices that day for material - and in general finally getting to 'pick the mind' of a local artist who is basically an institution for material in finished and pre-bonsai stages in this area.  Quite a selection of stock material that is attended to with 'bonsai' in it's future from the day it hits Steve's hands.   Junipers and Tridents being the ones that caught my eyes that day, I came home with one of both, however he has many species that are calling for me to make a quick return.  Absolutely beautiful crab-apples, horn beams, elm, ginko (I must have one, although I'll be old before it's a bonsai - I love seeing them and Steve had an absolute beautiful specimen there to gaze upon!) the list goes on.   I'm going to hold off on pictures of my 'material' until each one launches as a  project.  For now they are getting used to their new home and I'm getting my thoughts around both and how I want to progress each of them, and what they are 'telling' me as I start to tend to them.  Truly large material -  I have a pot for the Juniper already mapped out in my mind that I already possess, the Trident - not so yet.  Maybe Aaron can design a really beautiful low round pot for this beauty to finally rest in (in a year or so from now).  Why a year or more?  I don't plan to really touch either very much until next season as this is not the right time to be doing much of anything to Bonsai other than applying pesticides and keeping up on the watering.  (Fertilizing is generally out for most species when it's this hot, I do lay off the organic and go with emulsions during the hot months).

So back to my visit - I spent almost 2 hours there in the hot sun, and I must say Steve was kind enough to provide some iced tea while I walked around - true gentleman indeed!  This was my 2nd visit to Plant City.   I was there in early May with my best friend Aaron on a visit and at the time there was a workshop in progress, and I was just amazed at what we'd found.  We both stumbled around just enjoying the plants, pots, and atmosphere of the nursery, and did not get to really talk with anyone (just mumbling back and forth to ourselves - 'hey come look at this!').  This visit - I had an agenda.  

I also found out that Warren Hill pays a visit fairly often to Plant City, and will have another workshop in October.  I plan to be in on this one, time to turn things up a notch and really 'learn' as much as I can and also get involved with the local area Bonsai community which I've so far found to be all-so-far from where I live!

I'll have a great deal to post tomorrow - I've worked on a few projects recently that haven't made the blog yet, so I have catch-up to do and will also be working on a few projects tomorrow.  If nothing else the blog will be a good journal showing (hopeful) progress, my enjoyment of the art, and beauty of the trees.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Music with Bonsai

This is a very unique approach to bonsai and music, all at once!  This little tree had to be zinging for days after making music!  (Not only do people fare better when they approach nature - nature responds to positive human interaction!)

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