Pairing a pot for this Chinese Quince

First, I really appreciate the current pairing, a Shuho rectangle with cut corners.

But I thought it might be fun to try some new shoes. Chinese Quince is special, as it has 4-season interest: pink flowers in the spring, exfoliating bark in the summer, bright red and orange fall color, and large yellow fruits that persist into winter. This makes pot pairing a lot of fun. They can handle masculine and feminine pots, glazes to compliment or contrast flowers, bark, or fruit. The sky is nearly the limit. So…

What do you like?

Here a few to consider. Pot info and my evaluation are under each photo.

Oribe Koyo rectangle with bamboo accents.

Good color and size. To me the walls are a bit too vertical. Maybe I’m used to a lip. The green glaze will be attractive with the bark all year, and nice with the fall color. If it flowers, pink is a good contrasting color to green, and a complimentary color to the yellow fruit.

Another Oribe Koyo, oval with feet and a lip.

Slightly narrow, but visually, the depth makes up the volume, and a smaller pot makes the trunk look fatter. The shape is a bit more interesting. It has a lip. Glaze color is the same as above, but a bit clearer, with a touch of blue where it built up at the band and feet.

Green Chinese oval cheapo.

I like the color and the shape, but it is too big; the width is almost the same as the canopy, so the tree looks small. The color is pleasing and it’s not too shiny.

Blue Namako Shuho rectangle with cut corners, a lip and carved feet.

This is the current pot, and it’s a good fit, maybe a bit deep. It’s a bold pot, but it’s a bold tree. Good fit.

Blue glazed Yamafusa rectangle with cut corners.

Clearly too big for now. Maybe in 10 years. It’s very muted in this photo, a conservative safe pot. Incidentally it was my first “nice” pot, and the one I showed my maple in at the 3rd US National Bonsai Expo.

Yellow vintage Chinese rectangle with window panes and cloud feet.

Great patina, good shape and the color suggests the fruit color. This pot should be perfect, but to me the pot feels lighter than the tree, creating instability. The tree was in this pot for a year or so around 2015.

Black round Yamato.

Too big, but the red crackles go nicely with the bark. The right size, and it could work.

Tan unglazed rectangle, vintage by Keizan.

Good size, but a tad plain. Very reserved.

Cheapo bag-shaped Chinese.

The size and shape could work, but this is really a cheap, ugly pot. This style of pot glazed in light blue could be a winner.

Formal unglazed rectangle Tokoname by Sankyou or Sanpo…can’t remember which.

This works to my eye. Good size, good shape, solid color. Not sure I’m ready to commit to the look yet, but would be easy to use as the tree grows older. Now, it almost looks like a pairing you’d use when you’re ready to sell the tree and dump off a pot you don’t care about as part of the deal.

Unglazed rectangle with cut corners, 3rd Gen Yamaaki.

The soft shape does work, but the warm red clay color is more for a juniper to me. If I went unglazed, I think I’d stick with a brown clay color like the previous, not red.

………….

So, 11 to choose from, with half being legitimate options for sure, and a few others to demonstrate what does not work and why. A decent exercise when you have time and pots to work with.

Scroll back through and pick one. Which one did you pick?

Ready for my pick?

First, unpotted and combed out:

I didn’t remove many roots, just combed them out and will replace the soil. Interestingly, the akadama soil which has remained in place for 4 years now is still quite in-tact. I read how people complain that it breaks down fast or turns to mush, but I simply have not had that experience.

And the winner is…

I love the pot, a production-grade Koyo with a sexy shape, a Chinese feel, and clear green glaze which beads up in blue at the bands and feet. The root mass stayed rather small, so while it is one of the smaller pots, the roots fit comfortably, and the base shows a bit wider too.

A couple shots with a ruler to show dimensions, the pot is about 11″ wide, and the tree height is 16″.

Leave a comment with your pick, would love to hear your thoughts.

Chinese Quince, 2 years of work

I like the look of Chinese Quince when they’re grown thoughtfully, with lots of movement and taper.  The longer I train them, the more I appreciate the work that is required to make something that likes to grow long, straight, and taperless into something that looks like this:

To get a quince to look that refined requires constant trimming and wiring.  Beginning in spring 2017, I started with pruning branches short, wiring several branches down:


And letting it grow for a few weeks…


Then pruning it back, and wiring the green shoots down in May:

And again in July:



In late September, the wire was biting in, and removed:



A light trimming back, and it can coast for the rest of the year.  It will be pruned again after leaf fall.

Fall color…November 2017.

Here is a leafless shot from December ’17

Light pruning, and wiring a few rogue branches in place:

2018…

By late March 2018 it was leafed out again:

And in mid-April, young shoots were wired to add some wiggle, and the crown was lightly pruned back. Before:

After:

Once the wire starts to hit in and the shoots lignify, the wires will be removed, the branches will be pruned back to one or two leaves, and allowed to grow again. Meanwhile, the shedding bark adds some interest for sure.

Aafter a few weeks of growth, it developed rust, and I ended up having to heavily prune it and unwire it. A bit disappointing, but hard-pruning is really what develops character.

After:

So, in mid-July 2018, it had grown enough to wire again:

Below is early August 2018, and if you’re not keeping track at home, this represents the fourth pruning this season, and I suspect it will produce another flush. It will be good to see this one leafless again.

Before:

After:

Mid-August, and the wires were digging in, so the tree was unwired and lightly pruned again. Before:

After:

If you’re counting, that’s 5 times the tree was pruned back and wired this year.

Fall color was good too:

And when it was leafless, here is the result of the year’s efforts:

Still some rough areas, and I think eventually these secondaries will probably need to be shortened again. For now, just the straight and heavy areas are pruned.

Then every branch is wired.

So here is the side-by-side after 2 years of building branches. Can’t wait to see what the next 2 years brings!

Next spring, a repot and some work on the nebari.

Chinese Quince winter pruning

The best Chinese Quince bonsai seem to be pruned back hard to achieve dense twigginess in an otherwise coarse grower. Here are a couple I’ve been working on; the first was one I bought about 10 years ago, and trunk-chopped it a few times while growing it in the ground to improve the thin, straight trunk.  It’s not great, but I think in time it will acquire some character.

Before:



After:


Pot?  Shuho.

Next, are cuttings from the tree above.  They’ve also been allowed to grow in the ground, and chopped to develop taper and movement…then screwed together to make an eventual twin-trunk.  Probably needs a few more years in the ground…



Pot?  Cool old Yozan…great old orange clay?