Archive for June, 2012

Messing Around With a Small Cedar

This little thuja (~30cm to top of jin) was collected in spring 2011. It’s not exactly a jaw-dropper, but it has some nice movement, natural jins and it reminds me of the big old thuja I see with dead tops.

Preserving the old flaky bark while extending the deadwood was difficult, and some was inevitably lost. Some was actually intentionally removed as it was giving an illusion of inverse taper.

This tree probably won’t be touched for the rest of the year except for some light trimming if the foliage bounces back strongly.

Prep Work on Another Juniper

This is a Rocky Mountain Juniper (Juniperus scorpularum) that was collected in the Kootenay region of the Canadian Rockies back in 2009. Although slender it has nice movement, great deadwood details, and lots of branches.

Aside from maintenance pruning and wiring down some primary branches, this tree has never been worked in detail. Today I cleaned the bark, worked on some deadwood, and cut back quite a bit of growth in preparation for its summer styling. Preparing a tree for styling is almost as important as the styling itself. It has taken three years of cultivation and menial work to produce what is now almost a pre-bonsai. It is a long road from fresh yamadori to having something that is ready for bonsai work.

In terms of styling, this tree still has me scratching my head. The main problem is that the view of the trunk with the best movement and lean does not show the lovely natural shari. I will have to make some compromises when styling this tree… either in deadwood, or trunk movement.

Before work.

After work. My favorite view of the trunk… but the shari is at the back.

Another view showing the shari.

Possible front, although the top half of the tree is leaning strongly to the back.

Artisans Cup of Portland Bonsai Exhibition Announced!

The other day an exciting announcement was made in the North American Bonsai Community: Ryan Neil and Michael Hagedorn will be organizing a top-tier bonsai exhibition to be held in Portland, Oregon in October 2013.

Artisans Cup of Portland Bonsai Exhibition Announced on Michael Hagedorn’s Blog.

Save the date! And get your trees ready, because Canadian trees are eligible for submission! I hope to see a strong Canadian presence there… I have already started staring at some of my trees and wondering if they will be worthy for consideration by the July 2013 submission deadline.

Blue Alps Juniper Prep Work

I have a progression of my work on this tree in 2011 posted here. The species is Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Alps’, and it is an incredibly vigorous variety. It was crammed into a shallow pot this spring, but bounced back nicely. I detailed wired it in July 2011 and today and it has already outgrown most of its wire. So today, after coming back from the US National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester, NY, I was itching to do some bonsai work so I removed the wire from this tree and gave it a trimming in preparation for its next round of wiring.

It may be worth noting that I unraveled the thin copper wire instead of cutting it away. Unraveling it is usually faster, makes less of a mess, and is better for the tree as it minimizes the chance that small loops of wire will be left on the tree that could later girdle or otherwise weaken a branch. I only unravel the detail wiring. The thicker copper wire applied to primary branches is cut away.

After a light round of scissor thinning, the tree went back on its bench. I will give it another month of growth until I have more free time to rewire the tree. Detail wiring this tree will probably take me the better part of a day.

Late March 2012 after repotting.

Today, before work.

After removing wire.

After a light trim. Only the strong middle shoots were cut back. The goal was just to balance the energy in some areas without weakening the tree overall.

Cool Thuja

Perhaps my favourite thing about old collected Thuja is the little details.

This tree was brought in to display at a local club meeting, and is more or less the same as it was when growing in the wild. Aside from some casual annual cutting and a bit of wire here and there, the owner has never really tried to make a bonsai of this tree. Instead it is just an old Thuja growing in a pot that is appreciated for its wild beauty. I would probably try to take the tree to a more refined state, although I understand the owner being content with the natural beauty of the tree.

While at first glance a rather and straight and boring looking thing, the incredible details tell another story.

The tree is about 1m tall and is in a Sara Raynor pot. It is a gorgeous pot, but slightly too showy for my taste.

Shari detail.

Strange hollow jin. It almost looks like this was drilled out by a bonsai artist, but it is 100% natural.


Shari separating from trunk.