Many of you have seen this BRT before. But, if not or, if you’d like a refresher, go here to see it’s humble but portentous beginning, you can skip to about midway through the post. Unless, of course, the scintillating prose makes your brain flit and fly.

Since that amazingly engaging post, I’ve just been beating it up, here and there, this past winter, to see what would happen. Seems to be ok, right? It appears to look healthy, it’s full and purty.

Even kinda shaggy. Shaggy is good.

Time for some more abuse. Which means, in the time honored (and most controversial) Adamaskwhy tradition: DEFOLIATION

I get this question often when I tell students to defoliate. They say,

“Where do I cut it?”

Well, on a Brazilian Raintree, such as is the subject today, here you go:You’ll notice, just below my crudely drawn crosshairs, the new bud, tumescent and ready to burst. And above my crosshairs, you see all those things that look like leaves? Well, those are called “leaflets” and the entire structure we are cutting off is the actual leaf. The eggheads call it a compound leaf.

Below, right where my finger is, is all that should be left after cutting off the leaf. Those same eggheads call that part of the leaf a petiole. It’s really that simple. That’s how I defoliate all my trees. I don’t cut them in half, or thirds, I don’t stare at them menacingly and hope for backbudding….I cut so only the petiole is left (unless I’m being lazy I guess, and I get called out on that often).

Now, focusing on the tree at hand, it has pushed some new growth this spring already.

I’ll not butcher those new shoots, out of respect to all the energy it has expended creating those leaves.

I’ve covered all of this in previous posts so let’s hurry through the rest because the real theme of this blog has to do with the pot.

Remove (I prefer to unwind) the old wire.

I know I’m hurrying but I should make note, I teach unwinding with my students as well. Not only do you get to reuse the old wire (reduce/re-use/recycle) but, more importantly, it trains the hand how the wire and the branch respond when you move the wire around.

Part of which is the concept of always supporting the branch when you put the wire on or take it off.

Besides, cutting wire off is for sissies.

At the wire ends, use those pinchy thingies some in the industry call Jin pliers. They’re mostly for wiring.

There are a few new branches that need wire, and some old that need re-wiring.

Or even just some pruning back.

I like wire, I’m a bit of a wire bound actually, but I also practice clip and grow techniques. I don’t feel as if a tree looks natural using just one or the other method.

Clip and grow simplified.


And grow! The red arrow indicates the direction your branch will now grow in.

So, instead of wiring a branch in a direction, you achieve movement just by pruning. Like below.

With a two-punch combo of The Wire and The Scissor, we have harmony.

Ok, enough about that. Time to repot!

It’s not desperately rootbound, but in two months, in Florida, in my yard, it will be.

The two pots I’m considering:

Oval….a magnificent piece by Mike Thiedeman from Ohio.

Rectangle… older Japanese production pot.

The tree is ready, but I am not!

Noooooooo! Which pot?!?!

They both look good….

So I, in our modern way, took to social media to ask what everyone else thought.

It was close, with the rectangle inching ahead first, then the oval. Many people had opinions, some of them very valid.

In the end, on the web, the oval won out.

Of course, I had already chosen the pot by that point……………………………………………


The rectangle. 

Now, by now, you should be wondering about the title of this post.

Perspective. What in the hell is that?

A point of view.

The place from which you are standing, hands in your pocket, body braced against the wind, head cocked and pondering as you look at something. A tree.

When we put a tree in a comparatively narrow pot (with the canopy of the tree even to or just beyond the left and right end of the pot, this is narrow) we are framing the point of view as though the eye is relatively close to the tree (remember, we are trying to trick the minds eye into believing that a small, young tree is really a big, old tree, and that’s the only purpose of the shallow bonsai pot to begin with).

We are drawing the viewer closer into the trees presence by making the pot (which is the frame) smaller.

But this Raintree, which I styled to look like a natural tree growing in a pasture where cows can take shade from the Brazilian summer sun should be viewed from afar (kind of like my singing is best heard….from afar), almost the same way we look at tall Japanese maples in wide, shallow pots. The natural habit of a Chloroleucon tortum is to be twisted and contorted, hence the “tortum” part.

Granted, the tree looked bigger in the oval pot (and that’s how the arguments went for the oval, “the tree looks huge!”), but this pot give it that “far view” I’m after.

I may even go for a wider pot as the tree matures. That’ll be cool.

But you know what the great thing about Bonsai is?

It’s Art (capital A) and what I think may not be what you think, and your tree might just look good in a square, deep, yellow pot, or a maybe in a hexagonal, tarnished brass spittoon. And, though I might have an opinion, I respect yours, and respect that you can enjoy the Art just as you please. We can discuss but, ultimately, what I do or what you do is our own creation.

Let’s take the example of the rivalry, friendship, and creative sharing of Matisse and Picasso (by the by, my ill cultured friends who don’t like Modern Art, it’s been a hundred years, their work is Art. Grow up).

They were contentious, vociferous, competitive. Yet friends. And they respected each other.

“In the end, everything depends on one’s self, on a fire in the belly with a thousand rays. Nothing else counts. That is why, for example, Matisse is Matisse. . . . He’s got the sun in his gut. ”

-Pablo Picasso

I’m no Picasso, nor Matisse, but I’d like to think I have a small fire in my belly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s