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Posts from the ‘Wiring’ Category

“Fire” RMJ first styling

I collected this in South Dakota in 2013.

From this exact spot, very near the line of a fire that burned in the area between my first trip there and second. You can see some of the damage in the hill across:

And potted back in Iowa:

In 2016, I was able to remove the rotted burlap, and the original field soil, and potted it into a Bonsai pot with good, coarse soil to continue growing strong in Birmingham.

The attempted approach graft failed eventually. A few years later, it was full and ready for some work.

Before the workshop, I cleaned up the trunk, and foliage, and played around with some new planting angles. One was this:

And I was curious as to what Bjorn would think. Instead, he asked me “so, what are we doing with this?” So I had to go first. We agreed this was probably a good course of action, and also agreed to not simplify it too much by removing the second trunk.

Before starting, and setting the planting angle:

Starting to wire, primary branches only. Going conservative on the first wiring:

And the result of the first round:

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Twisted Shohin Itoigawa

Truth be told, it’s probably close to an inch too tall to be Shohin, but I’m working on that. I bought it from Bjorn in March 2014, when we drew some Shari and created some Jins, and then repotted it:

I let it grow for the rest of 2014:

Then wired it out in early 2015:

The apex was a bit pointed and too tall. But, not a bad start. In May 2016, I showed it at our Alabama Bonsai Society’s Spring Show like this:

Kathy Shaner was the judge, and made the following comments about the tree in her critique of the trees in the show:

And a few weeks later, I had the opportunity to work with Kathy on this tree. She had me spend time separating some of the places where the trunk had been doubled back on itself, cleaning up the sharis and then we started on the apex. I had split trunks of Shimpaku junipers with her before, but since this tree was small, I wasn’t fully confident in how it would turn out.

But she is a master and I am a student, so this is where we ended up. I let it grow for a couple seasons after this, not exactly liking the result. The tree also grew stronger on the right than on the left. I’m not sure why, unless it has to do with sun exposure. I turned the tree 180 degrees to get the weak left side into more sun for a few months, but it didn’t really help.

Finally, in December 2018, I decided to prune and wire it again. Here is where it started:

To compact the design, I started by shortening long growth:

Then removed juvenile and weak growth from the crotches.

Then wiring branches into position:

And finally, tightening it up a bit more with some guy-wires:

Here is a shot after the work was finished:

And a series of the development:

Next steps are to let the apex fill in, and to continue working on the shari.

Eisei-en

Last weekend was the first session of Bjorn’s intensive course. I cannot remember the last time I spent three days working on trees, and it was good to have enough time to get into a groove again. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s hard to do bonsai in 30-minute increments when it’s anything more involved than removing wire or performing a quick trim.

Here are a few shots from around his nursery, Eisei-en near Nashville, TN. It is a tranquil place with lots of nice trees, mostly comprised of large, domestically collected junipers and pines, with plenty of other gems tucked in and around.

Japanese Beech:

One-seed juniper:

One-seed juniper:

Trident maple:

Ume:

Trident maple:

Chojubai quince:

Trident maple:

One-seed juniper:

Massive One-seed junipers (that’s an 8′ high fence):

Scots Pine:

One-seed (or Rocky Mountain?) juniper:

Looking back toward the gate, workshop is on the right:

Trident maples:

Chinese Quince:

We discussed fall cleanup, some design aesthetics and horticulture, but mostly we worked on trees. Reps.

…….

Bjorn and I have worked on this Kishu Shimpaku juniper together for several years now, culminating in an appearance in the 4th US National Bonsai Exhibition in 2016. It seemed fitting to bring it to his nursery for the next phase in its development; committing to a direction. It is pretty balanced left to right, but the trunk definitely has movement: in your eye, does it move left or right?

The main section of trunk suggests right, but overall I feel the foliage wants to move back to the left. Mainly because of how the live vein exits the soil, and how the branch structure suggests everything moves up and then sweeps back to the left. The first branch is on the right, and the trunk moving to the right could work, but then I think that movement fights with the base, and the whole tree would need to be taller and thinner to move right. And I have a different vision for the tree than a tall, right-moving juniper with what would be an S-curve trunk.

Here is the starting point.

First step was to remove weak, inner growth, and the spindly stuff that would likely die over the winter anyway. That’s my new friend Jesse in the background, a fellow student who is from Michigan and brand-new to Bonsai. Nothing like jumping in with both feet! He was very gracious and watched some of the Bama LSU game on Saturday. I didn’t realize he’d be in the next few shots in a row, hope he doesn’t mind…

Next step was to prune to create (or leave) a bifurcated branch structure. Word of the weekend.

Then wiring…for about 10 hours when you’re slow or rusty. But I got there!

And the “after” shot. We are committing to the foliage and movement of the tree to the left, so it will take a little time to grow into the look, but the branches are set, pads are defined, and plan is in place.

So, for fun, here are the results after each of the last 3 styling efforts.

2015, first full wiring since purchased:

2016, tidied up in preparation for the National Show:

And 2018, advancing the design by shifting the movement more to the left:

Next spring, the left side will be allowed to elongate, while the right side will be kept tighter. It will also be repotted, tilting the tree slightly more forward, and rotated just a bit counter-clockwise. Finally, we’ll address that scar in the middle live vein. That will be the topic for another post for sure.