When last we saw this tree (in this post) it looked like this:
That was last year.
It’s had quite a bit of growth. But on the only below freezing morning we had this winter, it was the only tree (including the buttonwoods and bucidas or any other neea) that was damaged. So it’s a bit ugly at the moment.
Here we are today
It’s finally just beginning to grow , I hit it with fertilizer just a week ago.
Which is a good policy, fertilize and then, a week or so later, do some pruning.
First, imagunna remove the wire. On a densely foliaged tree like this you might think its better to trim first and then remove the wire. But the act of taking that wire off will knock off new shoots and leaves anyway so, if you wait to trim, all those crucial branches you left won’t get knocked off from your clumsy big thumbs.
Basically, the nia grows fast but develops slowly. You will have shoots that grow 6 inches in a week but be in the wrong spot. Many people just hedge trim the tree and it’s convincing from a distance.
One of the best wiring jobs I’ve seen on a nia was the one on display at Epcot this year
It was styled by Jason Schley (www.schleysbonsai.com) and is one of the most natural looking trees I’ve ever seen. Good stuff.
So what I’m doing with the trimming is the same I do on all profusely budding trees, remove the growth in the crotches, all those shoots growing up and down, etc.
And as you see with the nia, that’s a job and a half.
I feel like a gorilla grooming a fellow ape.
Here is a branch
And the branch cleaned up
The tree buds all over; this is the backside
Which will all go bye bye.
Now some of these shoots I will keep
This one above might be in the right place.
Here we are all trimmed and unwired
I can hear it now. Whats up with this branch?
It’s too skinny for a first branch. Cut it off, nag nag nag.
I like it. It balances the tree. Often, an old tree will put out a branch low on the tree. That’s why I’m keeping it. My friend Allen Carver calls it an incidental branch.
I believe it NEEDS to be there.
And this branch in the back is needed too
It is crucial in the composition. It literally draws your eye back up the tree after leaving that first branch.
I wish more bonsai artists explained the concept of composition. Instead they fall back on the tired teaching tool of “first branch, second branch, back branch” and don’t tell the student that this is a short cut to composition.
Composition is the placement of elements so that the eye travels around the tree in the direction the artist intends.
It usually begins with some focal point; in bonsai it might be a flower or a big trunk or a deadwood feature.
A truly magnificent tree will have you discovering these features for long minutes.
A little wire now and:
The left side
The right side
A look at the spots that need carving
Which I promise I’ll do soon. Maybe this afternoon
Back, trunk and base details
And yes, it’s a chipped pot