Itoigawa cleanup

Well, I’d been putting off this chore far too long.  After repotting it into a slightly undersized container, I wanted it to regain some strength before unwiring and pruning it back, but it was a balancing act between pushing it too far and just right.  June 11 was the day, carefully unwired the buried wires, and pruned it back.


Wires digging in are carefully removed with wire cutters and thumbnails to minimize the bark pulling away from the wood:

And finally, after this much is removed:

It should be set for the rest of the growing season, and ready to be wired in the winter:


JBP Candle-cutting

I like to update this one every summer and every winter (if I can get to it).  Remember, candle-cutting JBP with 100 days left in the growing season produces a second flush of growth, with more buds (ramification), and shorter needles, due to the shortened growing season.  

July 10, before

Starting at the top, remove this season’s candles:

Middle section complete; leaving longer stubs on the stronger shoots.  Look at these like fuses on a firecracker, the longer the fuse, the takes to go!

All of this year’s candles removed:

Pruned heavy areas, and thinned the needles down to 10 or so pairs of needles per shoot.

Want to see how this tree got from a nursery can to antique Chinese container in 10 years, in a flip-book format, with step-by step, cause-effect photos?  Check out the book: Developing Japanese Black Pine Bonsai…by yours truly.



Shohin shuffle

Aside from the accent, the arrangement below is the same as shown at our local club show in May.  For kicks, I moved a few trees through the display.  The fun of shohin is the mix & match of trees, pots, accents, and stands, all within the non-existent rules, which we’ll tackle one day.

The accent is wrong, and none of the trees in the mini rack have a stand under them:

Swap the top jbp for the triple-trunk Shimpaku.  It works on top.  The scale is good, as is the stoic stance. If this was to become the top tree, I’d probably shorten the left-pointing Jin to keep any suggestion of movement going back to the right.  The trident maple over the rock isn’t a shohin, but the scale isn’t bad.  I don’t need 2 blue pots and 2 yellow pots in the display, however.  The root stand adds some texture and height variation to the display below:

Switching it up a bit more, adding a crabapple in a Roy pot in the photo below.  The overall movement is ok, but the display is a bit lackluster.  These trees would need to be part of a bigger shohin display, and the crab would need to pull more weight, visually, with flowers or fruit.  I repotted it this spring from a 1-gallon can down to a small pot.  While it’s healthy, it didn’t flower this seeing.

Swap the outside trident maple for a Chinese elm.  Both work well there, I think.  I’m kinda liking the ROR as part of the composition. Even though it’s taller than 8″, the scale works.

The following arrangement works too, but a few things bother me.  First, the maple and it’s accent really move to the right in this shot.  The maple should “point” back to the display.  The Shimpaku really doesn’t feel right under the pine.  In the mountains, junipers usually live higher than pines.  Part of shohin display is to suggest the natural occurrence of trees; pines and junipers higher in the display, fruiting and flowering below, deciduous at ground-level, and the accent/ground cover at the lowest spot.  I do like the maple as the outside tree, suggesting a lowland stand of trees in a golden meadow.

With that in mind, swap the accent for a pool stone.  This works.  Nothing flashy; a painted pot and something with berries would help, but this is a starter set!

Just for kicks, the Chinese elm at left.  Notice how it takes the eye out of the display?

Since I’m shuffling things around, how about a virt with a 7-point display?

That could work.  The Chinese elm pot could be a bit more exciting?  How about a 5-color Gekkou?

Maybe a brown pot for the pine?  A Wajaku:

Guess I need to talk to David Knittle about a box display and Matthew about some pots.  Glad my wife doesn’t read this stuff!