Archive for December, 2015

Season’s Greetings!

The holidays are upon us and I’ve been busy with a few new trees, two of them to show you today…so let this be my Christmas card to you, as I most likely will not do another post until the new year. The first tree up is a ponderosa pine I acquired two or three years ago that was potted in turface or oil dry and in a very nice glazed white pot that was totally inappropriate for the tree. First order of business was to change the soil to pumice, then let the tree gain strength with a good regimen of organic fertilizer. That also gave me time to study the tree and I recently styled it for the first time; here is the result:


The tree was tall and gangly–sorry for the lack of a before photo. I was able to reduce its height with a single guy wire anchored to the lower trunk with a wood screw. A detail of the foliage:


A little closer:


Now I’m on the lookout for a pot to put it in this spring…Next I have for you a rock planting I put together earlier this fall. I was given the rock as partial payment for work done for a client and two of the trees were cuttings I made several years back, using a technique of wiring the extension growth for a growing season before removing it to make the cutting. The result is a head start on giving the tree good movement in the lower trunk. Here is the result:


The height is 14″ from the base of the rock to the top of the upper tree; 17″ from the tree on the left to the tree on the right…you can see some color difference between the two bottom trees and the tree at the top. I think the top tree is kishu and the lower ones are itoigawa. The lower two are the ones I mentioned using the pre-wiring technique with the cuttings. it isn’t a large planting, but boy is it heavy! I can’t imagine how heavy some of Kimura’s rock plantings must be, as I recall noting their size when I visited his garden back in February of 2014. A detail of the tree on the left:


I did some light thinning prior to planting so you could see the trunk movement better, but I can see a little more work needs to be done yet; this tree received a complete wiring two years ago, so the trunk and branches are pretty much where I want them to be. And now, the second tree on the right:


I removed a very straight sacrifice branch on this tree prior to planting and will wire it when the tree has established more roots in its rocky new home…I intend to bring the upper portion of the tree to the left, to make it seem more as though it grew from seed in the rock. And the little guy at the top:


I going to wrap this up as my internet is very bad right now…wishing you the best for the holidays and a Happy New Year!


Sub Alpine Firs…

The very dry summer we had here in Portland would lead you to think it would make for a poor fall collecting season…but after a scouting trip in early August, the trees were definitely actively growing roots. Everything I brought home responded very well to receiving regular watering for a change, especially the sub alpine firs. Their needle color went from a stressed yellowish color to green very quickly and stiffened up as they became turgid with the much needed moisture. I gave them all some organic fertilizer I’d made late summer and even felt confident enough to style some of them. So here are a few I was able to photograph well–there are many too large to get good photos of and will post about these when the time is right. First up is a natural bunjin style tree I cleaned up, removing toothpick jins and junk from the trunk, but nothing else:


At 41″ tall, this tree imparts a feeling of an older tree in the forest, growing up to compete with others for sunlight, while displaying the downward branches typical of long winters of heavy snow load. It also has fairly mature bark which is hard to find with these firs; the smaller ones that are collectible are usually saplings with very smooth bark. This was collected in early August and is acclimating very well. Next is a little cascade style I collected during the same trip:


I found this growing upright and as such, had a long, slow curve for a trunk line. After puzzling over what to do with it, one day I got out some expanded metal lathe to cover the surface of the pot and tipped it to see how it might look as a cascade…I liked what I saw and was inspired to follow through with a light wiring to rough in the design. While I’m on the topic of cascade style, I found another tree in a semi-cascade orientation during the same trip:



This tree is quite old and has deeply fissured corky bark, as well as shari starting from the base of the trunk and continuing to the dead jin that was once the tree’s apex. It was growing in a pocket of rock on a ledge and I was able to get the entire root system home with me. It had one branch growing ram-rod straight and I couldn’t resist styling it to see what I could do with it…a detail of the work:


I’ve found fall to be the best time to work on these trees as their bark is very soft and sappy if bruised or broken; some kind of protection such as raffia is essential for bending larger branches. A shot of the tree’s apex:


The shari along the trunk:


These trees retain a lot of resin in their sapwood and heartwood and the shari on this one is very good–no rot is present yet and the bone white color is totally natural, I haven’t used a drop of lime sulphur on it. And a final detail of the base of the trunk, which is 3 1/2″ in diameter where it emerges from the soil:


And here’s a little something I found, a small forest that was a rodent’s cache or a cone whose seeds never dispersed and sprouted together. There are seven trunks and an Oregon boxwood to boot…a real treasure of a find:


I think a little pruning and a little wire will be all that’s needed to make this a stunner…oh, and a nice pot ๐Ÿ˜‰


A detail ย showing branches already set with downward angles and a nice, natural mochikomi surface surrounding the trees. This is something I always try to preserve when I collect a tree, I think it’s sad to see other collected trees with the surface soil and mosses ripped away unecsessarily. I know it’s not always possible to retain something like this, but I like to if and when I can as it can give a real sense of place where the trees have originated, a built-in accent planting, if you will. Next I’d like to show you a tree I found falling away from a vertical rock wall. I could see that if I didn’t collect it, fate was not going to be kind to this one…


Another tree I was able to get the entire root system of, I fertilized immediately and styled the same season as collected. I used every branch this tree had, here’s a shot of the work:


One last shot of the base of the trunk; this one another long, tall Sally measuring in at 42″:


I saved the best for last…I almost passed this one up as I saw it from a distance; it looked like a sapling from far away but something about where it was growing caused me to come in for a closer look, dangling from a vertical rock wall. I was thrilled to find a very old, contorted and twisted trunk that was rooted to the wall in two places:


I haven’t touched this one yet and it was so wide I couldn’t get it in on the background. A detail of the shari:


And closer:


This is a very old tree by the look of the bark and the shari on the trunk. A look around the back:


That’s all for today…I hope I’ve whetted your appetite for sub alpine fir bonsai ๐Ÿ˜‰




Two posts in the same week! I’m on a roll, somebody stop me ๐Ÿ˜‰ My internet is no better today, but I was so pleased with the way my photo session went yesterday, I can’t wait to share my work with you…just after finishing the larger common juniper, I decided to work on the Pacific yew.

I’ve posted about this tree on the blog before, regarding its first potting to a bonsai container. I did some pruning this summer and realized the tree is very strong, so had planned to style it this fall, after one year and seven months in a bonsai pot. Here is the tree after styling with a view of the new preferred front, which is rotated about 5 minutes clockwise from the original front:




And a shot of the original front:


Detail of live veins near apex:


Detail of apex and ten-jin:


Detail of upper right branch:



Detail of the apex:



There’s much more I’d like to share but my internet is making this painfully slow an unpredictable…please bear with me for more

Recent Work…

I’m long past due for a new post here, I’ve been busy putting things away for winter, building a sun-porch for my tropicals and dealing with an apprentice who took off, leaving me short handed when he discovered there is work involved with respect to bonsai. He is now at large somewhere in Portland, Oregon and will have illegal alien status December 6th. If any of you out there in blog-land know of his whereabouts, please report him to immigration authorities. On to the trees…

The first tree up is a common juniper, Juniperus communis, I collected in November of 2007 in Washington state; it was three-trees-in-one as it spent most of its existence sprawled out over rock and where a branch touched a pocket in the rock, it rooted and formed a separate tree. I’ve featured one of these trees on this blog before–some of you might know it as ‘CJ’. I held back on the mother tree for so long–8 years–because of how much work CJ had been for me. The mother tree is large, 29 1/2″ from the rim of the pot after styling, and I figured I better prepare myself for the work. The task took me three full days to complete and a nasty little rash on my hands (those needles are sharp!) but wasn’t as difficult as I had imagined it would be. And there is still a little yet to do as I didn’t want to stress the tree too much just before winter set in. The tree as it is today:


A detail of the drop branch on the right:


A detail of the mid-trunk shari:


Detail of the upper trunk, near the apex:


Detail of first branch:


And last, a detail of the bend in the trunk in the upper right side of the tree:


Here’s a shot of ‘CJ’, the daughter ground layer from the tree above…recognize it?


A detail of pad development:


I’ve got more to post but am having some issues now with my internet connection, so will publish this and pick up again when I have a better connection. Thanks for reading!