Growing update

Just a quick post of the daily-changing trees with their new growth.

I hope you’re enjoying this period as much as I am.

Thomas

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Japanese White Pine #3

A large part of the design died and after a stream of tears, I think it will look good again in a few years. When I think about how it looked and how the price suggested the owner’s value to it, I can wait a few more years.

After some of the die-back. Not really sure why so much lost sap flow, I did provide good aftercare but the time of year may have been bad.

It seems much too even on both sides now and I will have to stretch the design to the left to give it some direction along with asymmetry. For now, removing the bark and keeping the jin should help a little with the flow.

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Have a good day.

T

Small Forest update

This has been in the works for a few years now and originally started as a group of 5 beech trees. Only one of those trees still lives today and after losing many of the trees the first year I thought it would be interesting to create a mixed group or mix of species that grow together around our common forests.

As you can see there have been many attempts to fix the design but each time I lost some of the new trees I added while trying to reduce their root ball to fit into the tied down group. I hope this time they all take and then I can focus on channelling energy and growth into the specific parts that need it.

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Cheers,

Thomas

Cascade Hawthorn

I found this tree last spring and to my suprise, it bloomed a couple months following collection.

 

It grew extremely well over the growing season and it may need a re-pot within the next week as it has been waking up from its slumber.

This tree has such old character for its size that I decided not to hack away any limbs. To just chop everything off would be a disservice to the feeling of this tree and its personality. Competing lichen and gnarled bark occupy have the tree and it’s truly interesting the amount of age such a small hawthorn can have. I styled it but since it’s so old already it was extremely hard to bend the branches into ideal places. Any severe bends would have simply snapped and killed off that section which is typical with Crataegus. But even so, I think this tree still has a lot to offer by keeping its wildness and ramification will improve with time.

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It would be cool to have flowers again this spring but we’ll see.

Have a great day.

T*

Candelabra Larch #1 New pot

Howdy! We had a burp in temperature here and as this tree is the last to change color in the fall and is the first to wake up, it woke up.

I visited Mr. Jiri Svacina just outside of Brno in Zastavka u Brna and after some discussions and pot considerations, he disappeared into the ether of his beautiful handmade creations and returned with a strange half-shell container and sporting a peculiar grin. “Perfect!” I thought.

For now the Larch will live with it and we’ll see what happens in the future. Are there any ideas for pots that come to your mind when you see this tree?

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Since things can’t seem to go normally, Europe has received another cold spell and it seems that this will continue at least until the end of the week. I placed all the trees back into the cold frame shelter and I hope that the Larch gets through okay.

Wishing for spring and warmer weather.

T,

Candelabra or Freak Larch #2

I had the same fun experience with this tree as with the first ugly larch. I have also received lots of negative feedback and negative reactions from this tree that it is a mess (maybe it is) and that there are so many problems with it, which could also be true.

To me, because this yamadori came with so many branches at the “knuckle”, I realized that I could also have a lot of fun with this tree and create something that isn’t a typical bonsai. And, if the tree already had all of this branching on it, then isn’t it natural? I didn’t place the many branches there. The tree experienced a storm, rough times, maybe a few rocks fell down on it during heavy rain or winds and yet the tree created new leaders and pushed on. Why cut all of that off? Instead you could use what the tree offers and try to make something original. Anyone else tired of only creating single trunk bonsai and listening to what is wrong and right? This art or hobby should be fun and you should try and do things that might not turn out so well.

For now, I will do just that. To keep this tree as a strange mixture of candelabra ruggedness from the high Alps and also a mixture of elegant and feminine features contrasting each other and creating tension within one tree. I am sure that this tree will also evolve and my taste might change, but oh man, this experimentation is fun.

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Spring is coming! Only perhaps a few weeks before our trees start waking up here.

T.

Candelabra Larch #1

A few weeks ago, I finally committed and styled a larch that I collected almost two years ago in March 2015. It was very strange, ugly and an easy piece to collect so I decided to give him a better life at the balcony. The alternative was a gooey and thick clay hell for soil, being stomped on by animals and agricultural machines alike and being outgrown by mere tall grasses that surrounded him, every year, poor fella.

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He was very happy in and at his new home and without skipping a beat, he grew notably well. Strong new foliage appeared and towards the end of the second growing season, he was on par with talented gymnasts as he pushed himself out of the container with his own roots!

There was still one problem though, how the hell is one supposed to style something this aggressive? And, what could we do with something this ugly?

For the two years I have cared for this guy, I really had no idea what I could do with it as there seemed to be too many options available. This is usually, as bonsai artists, the sort of problem we want but as you grow closer to your trees and form a bond, cutting everything off sometimes can be difficult. Once it’s gone, it’s over and waiting years to grow something back is, a waste!

The tree now goes against several rules or traditions and before I styled this, I had to completely let go and just trust my intuition. I ended up having a great styling experience from not worrying about how others will view this tree and I am satisfied with how it turned out. I have a pot ready to go as soon as the buds push a little more. As we speak the temperatures have drastically plummeted here and so my anxiety over the weekend was relived. Imagine the feeling when you enter your cold frame to find some of your trees starting to wake up and not having a pot ready! This upcoming weekend the weather will change again and so I may be re-potting quite soon.

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By no means is this really finished or the final look as with any bonsai. I do feel that as I continue to grow and nurture this tree my eye will catch something that may have appeared fine with me today but will seem stupid in a couple years. We’ll see.

Wishing you a warmer day than mine.

T*

Colorado Spruce #1 (Picea Pungens)

I will be teaming up with a local nursery this spring in Komin, Brno area. The place is called Carex and they have some decent conifer material along with a very friendly staff. I highly recommend visiting them and asking them if they can deliver the type of material you seek. Most of it has gone by the way side and most people wouldn’t consider putting in their garden landscape anymore even if you paid them. I was intrigued by this tree and I decided to take it up as a challenge and eventually create a high alpine Rocky Mountain tree.

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Good sized trunk with more of it hidden under this “soil” which it must have been living in for many years. It has great bark and the trunk size is not bad either.

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Here’s the tree after some branch selection and a reduction in height. I hope to improve the health and get some back-budding. After this Pungens regains some vigor I will cutoff even more but I don’t want to risk killing or severely weakening the tree.

In the spring I will take apart the rootball and place it into a fresh substrate mixture which should help bump this tree back in the right direction.

Here are some badass examples that have really inspired me and I would like to evoke a similar feeling in the final design.
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I saw this tree several years ago and find it a really fantastic example of a high elevation tree, Andy did a great job here.
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Todd Schlafer, a Colorado local, has worked with Mirai and I find his work very inspirational as well. I really enjoy what he has been doing with Pungens Spruce especially and he as also mentioned that this is his favorite species. Check out his work at firstbranchbonsai.com or his instagram page.

 

Take care,

T.