The Beast, again

There it is. It’s been sitting there, waiting, for well nigh on two years.  
It’s a collector of spines. It sits on its perch and licks the gristle and flesh left on the vertebrae it’s been hoarding and wears on a string, gnawing and cracking the bones, sucking the marrow. 

I’ve left it too long, the taming may not work. It’s a beast. A bouganvillea glabra, thorny, wild. 

First, I have to move it. Perhaps another few vertebrae will be added to its collection today. 

But I worked smart, I used a wagon to move it.  

 But for that, I still got yelled at by the wife….she who must be obeyed.  She told me not to pick it up by myself. I’m stubborn. 

 I warned her that I’d put this pic on the blog. I may never sleep in my bed again, but it’s still funny.  The last time I worked on the tree (the full story and more, such as the smuggling of a nubile young female onto an old style sailing ship, and other randy details, can be found by clicking here) I had the help of Guaracha. He’s a bit busy of late, working overtime to pay for paintballs. It’s fun shooting and hiding and all that but when you get hit…..I’d rather take my lumps from my wife. She will at least kiss my boo boos better, as well as other…..places

 There’s the beast. It’s suffered from my illness as much as I haven’t seems. The top has died out and lost some deadwood. 

   

This was how it looked in the last post:

 
It’s aging, like me. 

It’s frustrating to lose the whole top of a tree, I just need to rip it off! Grrrrrrrrr!

   
 
Damn, first blood goes to the bougie. 

Losing the top means I need to change the front a little.  About ten degrees counter clockwise.  
That should work. Now I need to do some re-potting….  

 

…..deadwood cleaning…. 

 

…….unwiring….. 

 

……and, a hammerfist….. That’s the old top.  

 

The secret to keeping deadwood on a bougainvillea (which I learned from Dan Robinson, believe it or not) is to make it thin and hollow. You see, it is very sponge-like and will hold water. 

  

So the idea is to hollow it out to allow the wood to dry. 

  
Then you protect it with a wood hardener and lime sulphur. 

  
Now, where is my wife? She’s seemed to have abandoned me. I need to get the tree from here…. 

 
…..to there. Oh well, here goes the back.  

 
Oh yeah, I’ll feel that in the morning. At least I didn’t pop my stoma out. 

You can see the need for a repot.  

 

I’ll just need to rough up the edges a bit, really. I didn’t remove much soil.  

 It’s time for a different pot, I think. If you read the previous post, I made a big deal about the original pot.  

 So, to please the peanut gallery,  I’m going to see how it looks in a plain one.  

   Big trees call for the old “two chopstick” method of soil work. 
 

Where the sushi?

And now for some wire. 

  
I’m having to rebuild the top, there is a baldspot.  

 

This is the “comb over maneuver” It shouldn’t take too long to fill in. A year or too. It will push hard after this operation. Repotting a bougie stimulates the tree, much like it does to a ficus. 

What do you think?  

 
Yeah, I don’t like the pot either. It’ll have to do until next summer, I’ve already fertilized it. The pot looks too big, but it’s actually the same size, except for the feet. I can crop them out I guess.  

 A little better. I miss the sleepy, seaport village from the original pot. It was homey. 

In the next installment,  I’ll continue the bougie theme and work on the one I collected last year, chronicled in this post. See you soon!

Posted in carving, progression, rare finds, refine, updates, wiring, yamadori | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

How about a native Florida ficus to challenge you? 

Stumbling, sweating, staggering  through the saw palmetto brush, trying to reach that oak hammock, shade, the shade just might save me, I trip in a patch of sugar sand, landing face first. Sweat and dust in my mouth, up my nose, like powdered sugar, but not so sweet. I look like a refugee from the 80’s, powder stains on my nostrils and lapels. 

That’s when I look up and see it, its upright stem and shiny green leaves nestle in the crook of a branch, but languid root tendrils hanging, it’s like an alien, a slow motion organism, spreading, reaching,  strangling that poor oak to death. But it’s not an alien. Not even naturalised. It’s a native of the Sunshine State, one of the only ficus from lá Florida. It is a strangler fig, slowly, inexorable reaching its roots towards the fine sand of the hammock. When it reaches ground…….poor oak. The mighty brought down by the degenerate power of the fig. 

Well, that’s not how they all grow.  Some turn into trees without having to suffocate and cannabilize a fellow tree.  Today’s tree was one that germinated in the ground.  

 

Collected by Erik Wigert on the Gulf Coast of Florida, acquired by me as enumeration for a demo at one of his open houses (there’s one coming up soon, November 7-8 check his website for details – WigertsBonsai.com -This year will feature Marc Noelander of the famous Noelander’s Trophy).  I’ll be there as an attendee this time, hope to see you. 

Speaking of Wigert, since I got the tree from him, I thought it fitting that I’d use one of his tools, a battered concave cutter he asked me to fix. I had to reallign the cutting edges and resharpen it. 

 Don’t ask me why it’s painted white. Anyway, I’ll need to defoliate the tree (the binomial name is “ficus aurea”) so let me get started.  

 
I know, I know, the leaves are huge. They will reduce a bit, but this might be a tree I would show defoliated. If I can ramify it well enough. The tree looked like this after the first styling. 

 
There is a previous blogpost on it here. It’s grown in quite a bit. 

The defoliation continues.  

   
Wow there’s a lot of sap (that’s the white drops getting everywhere, I even got it in my hair. I didn’t want it in my hair….)  

 
It’s like a ficus leaf slaughter. I wouldn’t have thought there were so many. I’d count them but I can’t count that high.  

 Someone on Instagram asked why my trees never have leaves. The regular readers know the answer. There are several reasons I defoliate. Mostly it’s to see the structure of the tree when styling and to make it easier to wire. On the rare occasion I defoliate to get smaller leaves. But that’s only for show. Large leaves when a tree is growing on the bench do not bother me. I can see past them into the bones of the tree. That’s what really interests me.  

    
 
And this tree has some bones. It’s interesting and challenging. 

Oftentimes, in art, the repetition of shape and line is what creates the composition (in music it’s the repetition of a melody or theme or chorus). That’s what I’ll try on this tree, with some wire. It’s already unusual in species and initial trunk line, let’s make it more weird.  

    
   
I carved the trunk in the last blogpost on this tree. I think it’s very….inviting. 

The repetition of form starts on the first bend.  

 
I repeated it several times.  

   
It works for me, but for many it won’t. It’s not very traditional.  

 
The pics don’t really show it off well.  In real time it’s almost moving. There’s a madness or revelation in those twisted limbs. Follow them or run from them at your peril. 

 It’s kinda spooky too. 

Are you afraid of it? 

Posted in philosophical rant, refine, sculpture, updates, wiring, yamadori | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Just a’buildin’ some trees 

That’s a lot of bush.  

 
Just by looking at it I’m getting tired.  I need a rest already. I’m getting too old to be able to handle a bush like that, really.  

 But, as the song says, “I’m not as good as I once was, but I’m good, once, as I ever was”.  I’ll get to work after I finish this cold beverage. Ahhhh, cold, citrus flavored, green tea. Not a beer, mind you, but it is only 8:30 am. I better get pruning on this spectacularly full Willow leaf ficus.  

 
You have seen this tree before. It involved a trunk chop I believe.  I just can’t find the link. Sorry. I have failed you, miserably,  as the curator of my own work (I seriously need a manager. Someone to tell me where to go, to talk to venues, clubs and promoters for me. Most importantly, to deal with enumeration and amenities. Any takers?) I suppose I should begin.  Oh, I’ll be working on this fat bottomed tree too. Another Willow leaf ficus. 

 
It’s those kind of tree that make the rockin’ bonsai world go ’round. You’ll have to wait on it though, I have some waxing to do. Just on the bikini line. 

Here’s some very typical growth on the Willow leaf.  

  
   This would be the second time I’ve thinned it out this year. 
   Some more pruning.  
   
I’m getting there. If you remember the second post (I think there are two. It could be just me remembering the constant narrative running through my head as I work on bonsai)  I left two leaders on the tree (I think I did. That seems like something I’d do, I tend to be very non-hierarchical ) 

 
I’m going to go with the leader in the back this time.  

 Nice. Coming along well. 

I do have some bug intrusion I need to address.  

 I think it’s just fire ants (as some of you might know, I’m originally from Massachusetts, where fire ants don’t roam. Only piss ants, which are a different story. Anyway, when I first got to Orlando, I kept hearing about these mean ants called “fahrrrr ants”. It took me weeks to finally understand. If they had just called them “fiyah ants” I might have understood before I stood in a mound and figured out why they are called fire ants. Although, truth be told, I do not have that Massachusetts accent. People have described it more like a Canadian one, some even say from Nova Scotia. Eh?). One thing this damage proves is that cut paste doesn’t really protect from fahrrr ants.  

 
I need to re-dress the wound anyway. To deter the ants I spray some insecticidal soap on the chop area. 

A little more off the top. 

   
   
And now it’s time for some wahrr….whyah. Ahem, sorry.  Wire 

 
I like to use two smaller wires on a branch, as opposed to one bigger wire, generally (specifically even), when I wire.  

 
The traditional bonsai dogma calls for one big one (that’s what she said) because it’s “prettier”. But two wires provide for more support and less breakage when bending your branch. And it lets me anchor the wires mo’ betta from branch to branch.  

 
This is the first wiring of the tree, so we are using the brute force method and not much fine wiring. 

Like this branch.  

 
I could wire it and put curly cues in it. But is so thin, any movement I put into it will just be cut off later so, let it grow.  

 And, before I get the comments about this bar branching (I ward off your evil comments with the devil horns) I am aware of them and I’ll probably cut of the branch on the left. Not yet though. I’m still building the tree and I can, being in Florida and all, allow it to grow amd cut it off later. That branch took a just few months to grow. Or I might change the whole design and use it as the leader. Who know? What’s certain in life? Maybe an asteroid will fall on the earth and only that one branch, having been left on, could change the gravitational field of Florida and deflect the worst of the damage from my back yard and my trees. It could happen. Have you heard of the butterfly effect? The whole Jurassic Park franchise is based upon it, and chaos theory. Or at least it was until they came out with the whole “dinosaur whisperer” thing. Ridiculous. 

Anyway, patience. This is about building a tree, growing the branches and all that.  

 And that’s all until next year, probably. I’m getting some good taper. It’s just a matter of filling in again and then building the branches. 

Speaking of building a tree, this one’s trunk is the result of fusing smaller trees into a bigger ficus trunk with no taper.  

   It was still a big trunk but, it’s bigger now.  
 It wasn’t me who did the fusing so I can only guess at the technique, but I’m sure it involved wrapping the smaller trees tightly around the bigger trunk with grafting tape or some such product.  

You can see the rotten out tops of the fused trunks. 

    
 
There’s not much that can be done about the holes now. I think it looks kinda cool myself. Gives it character. 

I’ve had the tree for many years and I’ve not really done much to it except topiary trim it. Your seeing it after a hard prune that I did yesterday. And I see that there are some problems. These two branches are pretty straight.  

 
And they are both too old to bend and stay bent (like the phrase, “get bent, old man!”) 

Let’s sit back and look at the tree, and I’ll show you an artist’s trick.  

 
I call it the “thumb in your eye” maneuver.  

 
It can be used to measure spaces, to help your eye focus (or unfocus, more precisely) to see the artwork in a general (let’s assume I mean specific there)  way. And it can be used to block out details you may not need.  Like, do I need this branch?

 
Probably not, actually. How about this one?

  At the moment, I do. Is the tree too tall?  
 Yeah, most trees are, truth be told.  

Ok, break out the scissors, time to prune.  

    
 
And a little wire.  

 
I’m still not convinced about that first branch on the left.  It’s so straight, like a 1960’s NASA rocket scientist. Or Rob Kempinski. I had to explain the “bush joke” I told at the beginning of this post and he still didn’t get it. Or maybe he just didn’t think it was funny.

 I do though. 

I thought it was knee slapping, belly jiggling, laugh out loud funny. But, then again, I think the movie “Weird Science” is modern Shakespeare. 

Both the trees get fertilized (I know, it’s the end of October, aren’t you supposed to stop fertilizing? No! You need to push the tropicals through the winter by keeping them warm and giving them supplemental light even. How else will you catch up to us Florida people? Push your tropical, people, they love it. Now, your temperate trees need a rest. Give it to them.) and I should have some good stuff to work with in the spring. 
 

 

Posted in branch placement, Horticulture and growing, maintenance, refine, wiring | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Up a creek without a paddle. I do have a raft though….

The raft style. Not so sure about it….it seems, I don’t know, almost like cheating or faking. Or, it’s what one does with inadequate material. Kinda like when you make a tree with branching only on one side into a windswept. A last resort when you have nothing left to do. A cop out. 

Or it’s one of those collectable styles. You know, you’ll hear people say, “I don’t have a raft or a cascade yet, or a black pine. Do you know where I can get a ginkgo?  I need all of those in my collection.” 

Before I get into more trouble, let me show you what I’m working on today.  

 It’s a juniper raft I inherited when my friend, Juan, passed away.  

 A raft-style bonsai is a one that is mimicking a tree that may have toppled in the forest (did you hear it, I didn’t, but I’m sure it made a noise. Well, I can extrapolate the fact of the noise a tree makes when hitting the ground and must assume this to be the case even if I’m not there to observe it. And don’t give me the quantum space bullshit, that’s only for minutiae in the quantum world. Unless…..Whoah, we are some other spaces quantum phenomena……hmmmmnnn, this world could be nothing more than a neuron, firing in some mega-massive rat trying to navigate an ultra-massive alien scientist’s maze, searching for a bit of cheese. Or, wait, we, us, we could be….the cheese! I am the cheese! I AM THE CHEESE!) but the tree, having fallen down, doesn’t die. Instead, it’s branches begin to grow up as though they are individual trees. And you get a little grove or stand of trees. It’s an interesting idea and it does happen in nature. (i….am…..the…..cheese….)

    
  
I did check under the trunk and it has thrown down roots, so it is truly a raft (as opposed to those cheap knock-off fakes made by non-unionized labor for the shopping mall parking lot market). 

This one is even “breaking the fourth wall” so to speak.  

  It’s saying to the audience,

 “Hey, lookameee! I’m a tree! I fell down but I’m still alive! Can you hear me man?!”

Breaking the fourth wall, which is usually reserved for works of fiction, like a TV show’s character looking at the camera and talking directly to the audience, doesn’t really apply to bonsai…..or, does it?  

Back to the idea of a raft bonsai. Here’s how one could be made. 

 
There are even times when a raft has been made by nature and one simply collects it. I know of at least three Florida bonsai artists who collected bald cypress that had been knocked down from one of the various 2005 hurricanes we experienced. They all thought they had a unique tree. I was sorry to let them down.  

The roots have adapted well to the sideways planting. 

 
I might’ve left some sticking up myself. 

I won’t be keeping this little ficus in the planting. Although it is cute. 

  
First step with working on a juniper is to clean up and remove the brown needles, the weak growth, those shoots growing in the crotches of branches and any that don’t need to be there for the design or health of the tree.  

 
All these hangie bits above need to go. But keep as many growing tips as you can. As has been coined “the STRENGTH (picture a young bonsai professional making a fist and flexing his biceps when you read this) of a juniper is in the foliage!”  

 
When you prune, don’t pinch every tip, prune out long shoots instead. 

Some wire.  

   
The idea in this first styling is to position each branch so that it fits the design but, more importantly, that they are all able to reach the sun.  

   

When styling for health, the tree tends to look a little spindly, due to the spreading of branches so that the sun gets inside.  

 
Still, it looks better than it did.  

 
Since I’m here, let me update you on a clump-style ficus I worked on today as well.  

 Bonsai development is a series of prunings and growings and your tree may only be “pretty” for short intervals in between them. Much the same way many people don’t look good just after a haircut. 

So, haircut time.  

 
As you can now see, I’m getting the branches to build the structure, they just need ramification and thickness. If you’d like. click here, to read this trees first blog appearance. I originally got it from Paul Pikel. 

Here’s a nifty virtual for your enjoyment.  

 
It’ll be a cool tree one day. As will the raft.  

 
It’s growing on me. It’ll fill in and be a mini forest-y planting. It needs a new pot, but I think one where I can still keep the fourth wall broken, just to annoy those certain people of whom the title, Bonsai Police, could be applied. 

Posted in philosophical rant, rare finds, refine, wiring | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Is it really necessary to do that? 

Yes, it is. 

Let me show you.  

 
It’s a podocarpus. 

It’s tall. 

It’s full. 

It’s boring. It was styled in a time when bonsai trees were taller. The vaunted 6:1 ratio that the bonsai elite quote as canon was not, just a short 20-30 years ago, the paradigm. Instead of quick taper and the fat, grotesque trunks in style today, bonsai artists grew tall, thin, elegant trees. Has the bonsai aesthetic changed so much? No, not really. 

Here, Let me introduce you to the blog of Michael Hagedorn  crataegus.com. He has the requisite short trees but, if you watch the video shot by Bonsaiempire.com you’ll be very surprised by the height of some of his works. And what’s funny, is that I wrote the part about tall elegant trees before I watched the video. I do, after all,  read Michael’s blog and am familiar with his trees. 

Another artist, Peter Warren, is developing an aesthetic along the same ideas. His website is saruyama.co.uk but his Blog,  and all its random, stream of consciousness prose, is his real achievement. He’s a Brit, and that makes a difference. 

What does this all have to do with our ugly podocarpus? 

I’m keeping it tall.  

 

But why did I call it boring if I wasn’t going to trunk chop it? 

And what’s with the title? What’s gonna happen to this poor tree? Well, I first need to find the front, cuz the one we have now just ain’t gonna work. And then to the operation. 

This front is kinda dynamic. It breaks a few rules. 

 
The root on the right is crossing over the front. It could work but the top of the tree doesn’t support the design if I use it.  A tree should lean towards the viewer when viewed from the front and I’d have to bury most of those roots if it was the front. 

This side is just awkward.

 

It looks a bit like a Pokemon.  

 Yeah, these thoughts go through my head as I work on trees. “Podotree! I choose you!”
I’m thinking a front around here somewhere.    
The branching works with this as the front.  Mostly. 

 
There are some dead roots, but I’d have gotten rid of them anyway. Yay for me! 

 Now to prune.  

   
Regular readers may have noticed the change of venue and background for the pics. I’m at Reggie Purdue’s house for his first Saturday Studygroup meeting of the Brevard bonsai club.  

   They were doing some serious bonsai. Here’s Reggie bending a buttonwood cascade.  
   There’s some serious force being applied there, he’s a chiropractor by trade. 
I only got this far at Reggie’s place, I was talking too much.  

 Basically, I trimmed back the foliage in the same way as the last podocarpus post, Podocarpus? Podo-crazy! And I jinned all the branches on the left side. Let’s retire to my nursery, I’ve had enough company.  

 And I can carve with impunity in my own space without worrying about making a mess.This was a serious trunch chop back in the day. 

 
Let’s see what I can do.  

  

  

 Just a regular drill and a drill bit. 

A roto-saw on my die grinder.  

    
 Basically, I reamed it out from the top and opened it up on the bottom, and created a hollow. 

   

Now to put some wire on it.  
 I need to do some thing with the roots. It’s not sitting in a round pot, even though from this angle it looks like it does. 

See?  

 I need some courage…..

 ……. I think I need to move it in the pot. I think it’ll work, why? Cuz I’m a wizard……
a demon in disguise…
I know I’m a little early working the roots but the last three podos I’ve made pot adjustments to are thriving. I’m beginning to think that you can mess with their roots just like a tropical; by that I mean just as long as they are growing.  

 That wasn’t so bad, I didn’t have to remove much at all. 

Here’s the before pic: 

 
and the after: 

 

The tree looks precarious and damaged. Old. My goal, when showing it, is to have small, tight but sparse foliage to keep the tree looking like its teetering on the precipice of life and death. 

I’ll apply some lime sulfur in a month or so (for that one guy who will ask about it). I like the carved edge of the cambium/bark to begin healing before I paint the lime sulfur on. And, truth be told, I couldn’t finish the beer. Pumpkin and stout and a big bottle like that does not make for easy drinking. 

Posted in carving, redesign, wiring | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

What kind of bonsai trouble can I get into with a scrap piece of wood…..?

More than ten years ago, my first bonsai teacher gave me some unfinished mahogany boards that had been used as shipping boxes from Central America. He said to me, 

“Here ya’ go kid, I’m sure you’ll find a use for ’em one day” 

The boards were probably ten years old or more at the time (I guess when it was cheaper down there to use mahogany to build shipping boxes than it was to use pine. Nowadays, mahogany is damn expensive to buy, anywhere from $7-24 a board foot)  

 And add the ten years I’ve had it, this is practically an antique piece of wood (at least classic). I’d say this piece, unworked, is at least a $50. Let’s see what I can do…… 

 As you can see, it’s totally rough sawn.  

    
 Which is what I want. I could take this and run it through my surface planer, use the table saw and make it uniform. But the idea I’m going for, the style or paradigm, is what I’m going to call it Fancy American Rustic (my first foray into the style was in this post, check it out).  You’ll see. It’ll work. Not everyone will appreciate it, but that’s fine. What a person likes or not doesn’t mean it’s not art. Kinda like the fact that I don’t like lamb myself, but many do. There is no accounting for taste. 

  Since this is a small piece, I’m going to use my mini angle grinder with a carbide burr wheel. 

 
  Or not. The wood is pretty hard. It’s a good rule of thumb that, as wood gets older, it gets harder (completely different than what happens to a man).  For example, I have a hundred year old house made from pine (pine, the ultimate soft wood) that’s so hard,  you can’t drive a nail through it. 
Time for the big boy tools  

   
My full size angle grinder and I’m using the carbide nugget wheel (the one that isn’t installed on the grinder in the pic). That’s better. It’s still hard as hell though. 

It’s at this point that I will warn against not using the safety guard on your grinder. I know that I’ve removed it but I recommend you keep yours on.  

 

Tis’ but a flesh wound. 
You see, I’m willing to bleed for my art. Are you? I also recommend safety glasses and a dust mask of some kind.  

 
I don’t recommend the beer though. Not until you’ve gotten to the sanding stage, at least. Hats are good for keeping the sawdust out of your hair too. 

Ok, I have feet.  

   
Now to shape them, make them a little more fancy, so to speak. 

  
Now to distress the newly carved area to try to match the rough sawn parts. It’s a matter of fire, and a wire brush. And elbow grease too.  

    
 
I’m liking the cracking, what the woodworking world calls “checking”.  

 Now the brush.  

   Nice! Now to use an old carpenters trick: to get a smoother finish, you wet the board and then sand it. The moisture causes the grain to expand  and, by sanding it then, when it dries and shrinks, the surface will be super smooth.  

 
If you’ve been paying attention, that’s not what I want, I am trying to make it look old and used and rough (like A Keith Richards as opposed to a Barry Manilow).  So instead of sanding it smooth,  I’m using the wire brush to expand the spaces between the grain.  

 
And now, some lacquer. Not polyurethane mind you, or gloss acrylic but old fashioned lacquer.  

 I like lacquer because it dries fast, you can recoat it often and you can buff it, either to shine or dull the finish. I’m using a semigloss today.  

   
That’s after about four coats with sanding and brushing  in between. 

I like it. 

Now, how do you display a stand? Do you put it on another stand?  

 No, that doesn’t work. 

I know, put a tree on it!  

   The tree is a ficus salicaria (Willow leaf ficus) that technically belongs to my daughter. The pot is by Jim Gremel. 
And the stand is by me. That sounds good.

 Keep an eye out for a series of these stands on the Facebook auction sites. There will be a limited supply because I only have so much wood and I’ll get bored soon enough. Once I exhaust the idea (like landscape painting) I tend to abandon it and move on to the next thing. I’m just not good at production work, which is maybe why I’ve kept up with bonsai, they are always changing and present the challenges I need to keep myself sane. 

 

Posted in Art, carving | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

One years growth on an Orange Jasmine 

Whoops! They almost got me that time. 

  
It seems that the wasps have been invading the nursery of late. I’ve been stung, Johnathan and my son Logan too. And they’re not those big, slow, calm ones (that my idiot brother-in-law would call “hanging foot wasps”. He would move when he saw one, shouting “Ahhh, look out, it’s a hanging foot wasp, a hanging foot wasp!”. To give you an idea about this dude, this is the same guy I told you about in a previous post who insists that the word “would’ve”, the contraction for “would have” is the same as “would of”. Glad I don’t work with him anymore, pray you don’t) no, these are those small, mean, vindictive wasps that drop down like a glob of raining pain and sting you like a hot bullet in the ass.  Oh yeah, that kind. 

The bastards were living on this orange Jasmine.  

 
You’ve seen it before. A year ago actually, in this post, which is weird because I remember just working on it. But since then, I guess I’ve been a trifle busy with my health. It’s past time I got back to it (plus I had a request to revisit the tree from a reader, Alexandra,and one must please ones fans, after all. Though I think I will probably disappoint her with how little development has occurred).  

 
But, as they say, better late than never, right? This is how you saw it last: 

 
It’s too late to repot it really (I suppose I could but it doesn’t quite need it, next spring definitely though, if I’m to stay on track for the 2016 Nationals)  

 
With a quick defoliation and trim you can see how much progress has been made.  

 
Some of the branches Were pruned for taper and movement.  

 
Some were left long for wiring.  

 
Here’s a debate we can begin. I enjoy debates. First, there is the prevailing school of thought that, to thicken a branch, you let it grow, maybe just wiring the initial bend off the trunk. This technoque works, as long as you have a tree that buds back on old wood easily. 

Another method is to wire your branch into the shape and size that the eventual design calls for and develop branches, etc, as they emerge. But, many (many) people say that your branch will never thicken if you do this. 

Here’s my take. If you have a lot of trees, and you like the look of a finished bonsai and you like growing them, do both methods. 

If you have few, use the second method. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re doing it wrong, the branch will thicken. Really. You have just as many leaves feeding that branch if you have one ten foot branch or an 8 inch branch with secondary and tertiary branching. 

If you’re a farmer, feel free to do method number one, because you’re just interested in bringing a product to crop as fast as you can and you don’t care how the tree looks. 

I do both, sometimes on the same tree. And, after annoying half the readers, let’s see how many more I can annoy. Wiring. 

  
Boy, I can hear it now…”that wire might be ok for the thicker part of the branch, but you’re supposed to stop and go down to a smaller gauge on the thinner branch! You’re just an asshole, Adam”. 

They (this is a specific “they”, not the generalized “they” that’s often employed in this type of monologue) have no idea how much an asshole I am (they still read the blog though, tee hee hee). This wiring is a training tool, not meant for display purposes (when you try to conceal the wire) and it is easier on the branch to use one length of wire, as long as you’re careful. 

Gee willickers, there’s a lot of words in this post.  

 
Anyway, here’s the tree after those long, specious paragraphs.  

 
I’m getting some good branching on the left and there’s even a whole new back branch, you can’t see in the pic, that’s promising. I just need some fertilizer and water and a little more time (oh, a nice pot too) and I might make the Nationals next year. I just need some reminding is all. 

I’ll trust you, Alexandra, to be my official Reminder Person, if that’s ok. 

Ten next post o think I’ll share with you all a carving project I’ve started. It’s exciting. 

Posted in branch placement, progression, updates, wiring | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments