Haven't had much time to work on bonsai, however this Privet deserved a visit from the scissors. Going to clean up alot of the free growth, and partially defoliate to reduce leaf size to spur further back-branching and ramification of the crown/apex.
Before work begins, looking a bit wild.
Trimming and defoliation complete.
View of the hollow I'm working on over time to carve into the main trunk.
This is a San Jose Juniper; it's nursery stock tree that I've trained since last summer. This is her first major working since initial reduction and making a few branch decisions; it looks to be going the way of windswept, the branches all have natural movement from left to right. Difficult to find a path for this one, time will tell (alot of time!) if I'm going the right way or not.
Here's where things are after a few hours work today.
As always, poor man's measuring stick (lighter). If you view the tree's history above first - you can see the large amount of new growth it's showing this spring.
Some carving to do at the bottom. I want to save the branch on the right and turn it into a large jin to resemble a 3rd trunk that has 'failed' in the tree's past.
There we go, a little Dremel action. The dremel is a new toy I got for Christmas, I have a few wood carving bits for it - enough for me to learn the basics then figure out what other bits or tools I may need.
Closer view. Not completely finished, but it's still 'damp'. I'd like nature to dry things out and do some of the weathering on her own. It's a good start for me, I think.
So.. Time to get some motion into these large branches. Time to bring things closer in!
A few hours later.
Little more of a turn to the left - I think I like this as the front a bit better. Will have to reduce the right trunk jin a little to accommodate the new front, since it crosses the trunk from this new angle. Time to let this tree rest until Fall, then do a little adjusting of wire; remove some add more, etc. Next season if all goes well I will continue working on the 'top' which right now is pretty vacant! Not too worried about moving this into a pot yet - not until I"m happy with the design, and get a decent apex on there and the pads a bit more appropriate for the size of the tree.
Tree Story: This tree's protective bigger sister succumbed to the strong howling winds of a cliff side where they both perch. Now with the winds hitting this tree directly through the crumbling remains of it's once protective neighbor, the branches bend, or break away in the tree's struggle not to join it's sibling.
Anyhow, that's the story and I'm sticking to it.. :)
This little nursery tree has been with me approx 2 1/2 years, slowly getting worked here and there until I felt it was time to move into a 'training' pot that I specifically created for it some time back. It's a good 8-10 years from being presentable in any fashion however I like it's deadwood areas and trunk movement - again another 'training' tree for me of a juniper species, with deadwood to play with.. If the green survives and can pad out as I've wired, it could in the future be an interesting tree to view.
'The Log' training pot I made in 2009 for this tree. Things have come a long way on all fronts (pottery and bonsai skills, as well as application of said abilities, thank goodness).
Signed it and threw in a 'bonsai' in Japanese on the left. Plenty of drainage on this one all the way down the center.
Lots of new growth, the living veins on both sides of the deadwood are quite healthy. Species is 'Juniperus chinensis blaauw' sometimes called 'blue juniper' due to it's tint of blue, which becomes very obvious during the cold months,
The trunk looks rough, it will get cleaned up some soon. Poor tree is begging for some good soil (here it comes, 40% crushed lava rock, 40% fired clay particle, 20% sharp builder sand).
Reduced, repotted, deadwood cleaned up slightly just so I can identify it better (carving still to really be done). Still looking for the front.
Another angle before work begins. Hmmm.. Still not showing a good front - but I think I know where it is now after a few spins.
After thinning and wiring, I believe this is the front; with a slight turn to the right from here..
This will become the back. Now I'm starting to see 'someone' in this pose the tree is striking, can you guess who it is yet? :)
Close-up of the 'front', you can see the deadwood decently on the trunk here after a slight clean-up. Now that I have my front, I will carve into this side some to help with the taper and to blend better into the living veins, at the end of this season.
Had thought about going literati if I took the top off, it's still an option I suppose. Here's a view w/o the top to get an idea. I would bend the bottom right branch back 'up' some and get it slightly back above the main trunk chop line.
Another angle. Once the guy wired branch becomes stable, I will add a bit more movement in the bottom to follow the lines of the trunk. I sort of like this angle, gives the tree a sort of 'Travolta' pose going on.. :)
Another direction w/o the top if I went literati style down the road. Travolta w/o his left hand? Maybe I should keep the top and form it like this if nothing but for the discussion the pose could bring? :)
I think this is the front for now. A view if I left the top off and went literati.
Yep, time to set it aside in the shade for a month or so to allow the roots to take off, then out into full sun for the summer. I think this tree has earned it's name, 'Travolta' for sure take a look here to see the pose in action!
This Privet soon-to-be-bonsai has been collected for about 14 months. Right after collection I moved it into my garden in the ground, with a large flat brick underneath the root ball. It's a single trunk, will be 'informal' style tree. The many privet I have collected, I use as training trees before I move into more common (and less hardy in comparison) trees. However some of the Privet - are pretty interesting in their own right (down the road more likely).
Here you can see it has a pretty decently flat root base as is. Time to bare root all this famous 'Georgia Red Clay' and good soil I used around the root ball when I first collected.
All clean, lots of good roots here. Time to reduce the root ball's height so it can fit into a pot snugly.
The pot. Training pot for sure, it will go into something smaller in the future. The soil. This mix is approx. 30% oil-dry (NAPA product, 100% fired earth), 20% coarse builder sand, 40% lava rock, and 10% organic sphagnum moss. (Need a little organic for Georgia's hot summers..)
Happily potted up, some wire through the drain holes to hold it in place. Time to take it inside and do a little more work.
I think this is the front that I will use for now.
Quite a trimming (generally safe for Privet, they grow like mad and I sealed all cuts well). Poor man's measuring stick (the lighter).
A pic from the rear, the nabari look decent from here as well. Could go either way, will see which side strikes best for the lead to a final apex.
Close-up of the nabari from the rear.
Close-up of the trunk/nabari from the current front.
From the ground up, it's 12 inches, 6.5 inches to the main trunk 'chop'. Approx 2.25 inches at base with 1.5 inches being main thickness of trunk to the 'chop' line.
Lots of fun with this project, I have many more privet to unearth in the near future. Maybe 1-2 more before this spring gets in full gear, many more next spring for certain.
Here is a Privet that I've been training into bonsai for about 2 years now since collection. A Privet with 2 trunks. I've hollowed out both trunks to give the impression of natural damage/age. Now it's time for some branch moving and a little pinching before full spring/summer growth kicks in.
Before work begins. Pot created by my best friend Aaron, the infamous 'brick' pot.
View of the larger trunk with some carving done. Fire applied to give appearance of natural causes and to 'age' the open deadwood. I use a paintbrush to blend in the ashes and brunt crust into the wood that I've then carved. This view shows a few branches that I'm going to move today.
A view from the rear, or, another possible 'front' view? Pinching done on most branches past 2 terminals. A few were left to grow to help thicken a few precise branches. Can see I've brought a few branches down on the left side now, and applied a little wire.
That's it for this go-around. In May this tree will get a heavy defoliation to reduce leaf size and aid ramification of this tree.
Still need 3-5 more little saplings, almost there. This is sort of a test - Tulip Poplar generally don't make the best of bonsai due to the enormous leaf size. Not to mention the flowers once they mature which give the appearance of a tulip - hence the informal species name. However those can always be properly removed, the tree will still thrive and leaf yearly. They do reduce decently when potted however it's still a sizable leaf size, and would be hard to convince as a bonsai unless it was a very large specimen - or used in a forest setting! That's my idea - to make a Forest, and take advantage of a 'canopy' of the leaves and develop the lower branches with wiring to give them the effect of being a large forest of poplars.
Here are a few pics of the crop - all of these are survivors (except the 2 tiny ones) of the harsh winter here and are bursting with new buds. The 2 tiny ones I pulled up this year before the buds opened, these will be used on the edge of the forest and in the back to give depth.
Just a few pictures from the garden - all pre-bonsai material and 'experimental' stages for me. I'm enjoying the learning process!
A row of mostly trident maples in 2gal pots - these all have a future in a large forest I'm planning for them. Further to the left is a American Elm, a large privet with a good nebari cut very low, and a 'rose of sharon' near the end. Near the bottom you can see plant markers - I'll show my seedling progress next week, but so far - doing really, really well. I planted numerous things - and am getting numerous results!
A close up of the left side of the left garden. Can see a few large privet trunks, a Maple forefront left, and still not sure quite what the heck it is in center but it's interesting, so I'm working on it until I can see the leaves better this year to identify.
This tree fooled me. I thought I'd brought home a really large Sweetgum Maple in the middle of winter, but this turns out to look like it's a paperbark birch instead. Which is exciting as it's doing really well, and is at the point where it should begin ex-foilating bark in the next few years! You can see numerous buds up and down on the wood - it's coming to life.
Right side of the garden, more 2gal pots with some Junipers far right, some jap maples center, and more tridents on the left. In the ground - are about 100 trident maples, a row of jap maples, a row of assorted local specimens (crepe myrtle, elm, birch), and some sweetgum maples far right. These, are my future trees to play with many years to come. Some will go into big 3-5gal pots, many will go into the ground in other places for 'wild' growth growing, and some will just be used as trees in the yard! (Tridents are beautiful, with
great colors in fall from yellow to orange to red!)
Rather big Azalea that got reclassified as 'bonsai material' last year. I'm enjoying this tree and learning the patterns of Azaleas - if it keeps doing as well as it currently is, it might even turn into something decent one day, with some mindful attention to it's needs.
Needed a trim so I could review branches. Defoliation time, it won't be making flowers this year.
Left a few small leaves on however it's already budding all over and on old wood again this spring. Has some inverted taper in the base of the trunk, but that can be resolved with a little carving. Waiting to see where the vigor of the tree takes it, then I'll help it along. The exposed roots are just as it was originally in the ground - some are dead, some are alive. This will be part of the 'carving' process down the road.