The 350 JBP Update 2017 part 2

So, my plan was to clean up, pull needles, prune, and wire this tree so it would be ready to tweak when Bjorn visited in December. This tree has been all my work since it’s initial styling with a buddy in 2007, and I thought it would be a good time to take the tree from the best I could do with it, to the best I could do with it…with Bjorn.

So here it is, Before:

And After:

What did we do?

Guy wires, exaggerating the downward angle of the branches, including the upper right, to reduce the separation between the first layer and second layer. Subtle, but nice.

Balance each tuft of foliage so they’re the same size and mass.

Evenly distribute each tuft so they’re equidistant.

Create subtle separation of layers within primary branches.

Rearrange the position of each tertiary branch so they fan outward, and then together, overlapping on or maybe two tufts from the branch behind into the branch in front. (Photo)

Round out the apex

Still to do: let the left upper section elongate.

Keep the first left branch shorter.

Replace branches at obtuse angles with branches at acute angles.

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Grandpa Earl

I lost my grandfather today, 1/11/18. He was 96, and a great man who fought in WWII, stormed Normandy at Omaha Beach. When he returned home in 1945, he returned to work at the engineering firm where he started years before as a courier. He ended up President, Chairman, and majority owner of the company. He lost his wife, my grandma, 19 years ago. Far too soon to lung cancer, she never smoked. He did, outside. They always had a fire in the fireplace, and we lived close enough that outside, or at times in elementary school (where I could see their house from the music room), I could smell wood burning, and I always assumed it was coming from their house. I still do.

My grandparents had a pool table in the basement, and I remember finally growing tall enough for my view to change from the gray resin belly, wooden rails, and leather-fringed pockets, to a brilliant aqua sea of felt, brightly lit by a shop light. Almost illuminating those many different colored balls. My dad, brother, uncles, and occasionally grandpa would play pool, and when we could see over it, we would be allowed to play too. Sometimes 8-ball, sometimes 9-ball, and once in a while, pea pool. one of the accessories was a leather jug which contained black peas with white numbers. Pour out a numbered pea, and take turns shooting until you sink the corresponding-numbered ball.

I have a shot of my son and my brother’s son playing on that same table decades later. It brought back a lot of memories.

A few years ago, when Grandpa could no longer live in the house on his own, I got a call from my brother, asking if I wanted a memento from the house as they were preparing it to sell. “Sure, how about the pool peas?”

At Christmas, Grandpa sent Christmas cards with checks for all of his family as always, with a note my dad helped write, encouraging us to use the money to do something special and remember him. I had always wanted a Yamaaki pot from the 1st generation patriarch, Akitsugu; the one with the eggplant chop containing 3 characters. I don’t know why. When I saw this one, it reminded me of the pool peas jug, and it had the eggplant stamp, just peeking out from the bottom. So that’s what I bought with my grandpa’s last Christmas gift. Fitting on several levels.

My ume is in full bloom today.

I’ll always admire, love, and miss my grandpa. Rest In Peace.

Earl Ramsay Van Fleet, May 9, 1921-January 11, 2018.

The 350 JBP Update 2017 part 1

This tree is the subject of my book, a pictorial cause-effect book showing how to develop a JBP Bonsai.  This represents its 10th year of training as a bonsai, after purchasing it from Brussel’s in 2007 for $350.  It was candles cut later than normal this summer to make the second flush of needles shorter.  Once the growing season was finished, (new needles set firmly in their fasicles) it was time to thin out needles, prune, and wire.  In mid-November:


Needles pulled, and lightly pruned over Thanksgiving:

Wiring the fine branches, starting at the bottom…
And working my way up…

To the top…