Fall Colors and a Black Pine

Fall colors and a Black Pine

This is the first Fall for me here at Aichi-en and it’s amazing!  As all the deciduous trees start to change colors, I really got a sense of the change in season.  Also, the cold temperatures reminded me of that as well.  So far, I have found that in Nagoya, the Spring is short and the Fall is short.  The longest seasons seem to be the Summer and Winter.  Perhaps it’s just my mind playing tricks on me because the Summers are so hot and the Winters are so cold.  ;o)  Coming from California where the weather is mild year round, I’ve had to adjust to the weather in Japan big time.  I have to care what I’m going to wear because I’ll either freeze or suffer a heat stroke!  Having said that, I can’t complain though (though I think I just did) because it’s a great experience for me and it’ll make going home to California that much sweeter at the end.  In this post, I’m going to give you readers a sense of what Fall is like here at the nursery and I’m going to sneak in a Black Pine that I worked on recently.  Here we go!

Do you remember these root over rock Trident maples?  Where as most other trees have already lost their leaves, these are just changing colors now.  I have found that when Trident’s are defoliated during the Summer, the leaves will stay on the tree longer during the Fall and produce better colors.

Here is a picture of the Black Pine I was tasked to wire and style for a customer.  Starting in November, you can pull the old needles off of Black Pines and wire them.  Why don’t you all enjoy more Fall colors while I get to work on this tree.

Here’s a large Japanese maple that has lost about 50 percent of it’s leaves.  The tree is over 36 inches tall (91.5cm).  Here’s a tip about showing deciduous trees.  When we show deciduous trees, we pull about 40-50 percent of the leaves(big leaves) off the tree so that the viewer can see the separation of branches and some of the interior structure.  Having said that, the tree still looks full because the structure is so dense.

Here is an example of removing 50 percent of the leaves.  This trident was in Gomangoku a few months ago.  I removed 40-50 percent of the leaves and it still looks full.  The tree was a solid ball of leaves before.

The colors man! The colors!

The leaves aren’t the only thing that’s changing colors in the Fall.  Here’s the fruit of a gardenia ripening.

Here is a huge Japanese Maple that’s loosing it’s leaves.  Every time Mr. Tanaka walks by this tree, he brushes some of the leaves off, hence why one side of the tree has no leaves.

Here is the Black Pine after I wired and styled it.  As you can see from the picture, I guy wired a few of the lower branches down to the pot.  For the most part, I brought all the branches down and laid them out to make pads.  The needles on this tree is long because it wasn’t de-candled this year.  When needles are long on Black Pines, they are easier to make a nice round full shape.  The tree took me about 5 hours to finish.

Here is the tree after Mr. Tanaka made some adjustments.


Mr. Tanaka’s adjustments, what I learned and the future

Mr. Tanaka’s adjustments were quick and he focused mainly on the branch structure as usual.  He cut of a branch on the left side of the tree to add a bit of separation from the main branch and the top of the tree.  It was also at a point where three branches were growing out of the same spot.  This made the branch structure cleaner.  At the top, of the tree I had two branches that overlapped each over forming an X and he separated them.  After the adjustment, I studied the tree and was happy with the resulting work.  Though Mr. Tanaka’s adjustment doesn’t look as round and as clean as what I did, the structure of the tree came out better and overall is the important lesson to learn on this tree.  This tree still has a long way to go and the needles will be shortened in the future so Mr. Tanaka wasn’t too worried about how the silhouette looked at the moment.

I’ll finish off the Fall colors with this Trident maple.  This Trident is one of the oldest and unusual tree in the yard.  When the leaves come off, I’m going to dedicate a post just on this tree.   Stay tuned for that one.

I hope you all are enjoying the Fall colors in your area this year and that you too have some color in your own yards.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everybody following my experiences here at Aichien.  The year is almost over and I can’t wait to see what’s in stored for me next year! (That’s assuming I make it to the end of this month)

Thanks for reading!

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20 thoughts on “Fall Colors and a Black Pine

  1. Dirk Kraemer says:

    Hi, Peter!

    I am from Germany. I have followed your blog since a few weeks and I like it a lot. Very interesting!

    I would like to know which kind of substrate/soil you use for Maple palmatum and Pinus parviflora.

    Keep it up! 🙂

    Kind regards, Dirk

  2. Elliott Farkas says:

    Happy Hollidays Peter!
    With all respect to Mr. Tanaka, I kinda like the way the pine looks after you worked on it and before He adjusted it (please dont let Mr. Tanaka read this LOL). I realize that removing a branch from the area where there are several branches emerging will eliminate any possible problems in the future, such as reverse taper, and I know its hard to tell from a flat pic on a screen, but the tree seems less balanced to me with the trees left branch being lowered further. Often a little imbalance gives a feeling of movement and tension, but to me, in this case, its a little to much.
    Again, let me stress, I know I’m in no position to critique Mr. Tanaka, but I get a little better feeling from your vision of the tree.
    Someday, someone will invent bonsai majic dye #7 that will induce dramatic fall colors here in So. California, but untill then, please keep giving us those great images good bonsai advise.

    • Peter Tea says:

      Hi Elliott,

      Happy holidays to you too! I understand what you are saying. From the picture, the adjustments does look strange and not very pretty. I personally tend to try to make a tree as pretty as possible even if the tree is still in training. Mr. Tanaka on the other hand tends to be more practical and gets what’s needed done and only that. Doing the necessary work on a tree takes a certain amount of time and making a tree looks pretty after the work can sometimes take a good chunk of time too. When we’re very busy, things get adjusted to where they are needed and the tree can look pretty rough. It’s okay because the tree isn’t being shown. We can always make it look pretty later. Of course, that doesn’t help when I’m taking pictures of the tree after and showing it to people. Also, in the case of this tree, once the needles are shortened in the future, it’s going to look very different as well. Every time I look at a picture of a tree I always ask if the tree is still in training or ready for show. In training trees, I expect it to not be perfect looking. If the tree is considered show ready and doesn’t look nice, then there’s a problem. Overall though, I try not to be to hard on work based on a photo.

      No offense taken Elliot. I’m glad you express your thoughts on the tree and I encourage that. Thank you!

      I use to live in Southern California and it’s tough to get good winter color there. I noticed that if the water is bad in your area, it will affect the color of the leaves in the Fall among other things. Is there actually any good water in S Cali? I moved five times down there and I never found it. LOL Take care my friend.

  3. Alex says:

    Peter, thank you so much for sharing! What a beautiful sight…I’m envious! Nice work on that JBP. Do people often come in to have their trees styled? It almost reminds me of working at the vet — people come in to have general care provided for their animals that they could easily do themselves if they took the time to learn (some have busy schedules, of course, so it’s understandable to a degree). Do people bring their trees in for overwintering as well?

    Also, thank you so much for posting that last picture. I absolutely can’t wait to read that post as it’s such an interesting tree.

    • Peter Tea says:

      Hi Alex,

      Thanks for reading! Most of the time, we have customers that bring in trees and want us to work on them. The quality of the trees have a wide range but we try to make them as nice as possible. Sometimes we will go to the customers house and do seasonal work there.

      We don’t really over winter the trees here. The temp here gets cold, but not cold enough to where it will kill a tree. Sometimes customers will bring in sick trees and we’ll nurse them back to health.

  4. David says:

    Tx for sharing Peter! I love fall and i love deciduous trees…
    Maples have incredible colors, i enjoyed mine a lot. This year, because we had a lot of sun from august till november i had very red autumn leafs… more then other years. Eye-candy 🙂

  5. cherylas2009 says:

    HI Peter,

    weather sounds similar to Wisconsin. If the temperatures could be evened out, it would be like CA. Nice post as always.


  6. Luc says:

    Beautiful colours indeed, I love the look of Momiji in fall (does that make a Japanese pun ?).

    I think I remember that last tree from a previous post, if that’s the one ; it has a top branch that slants down to make the left structure of the tree. I think is was grown by one of Mr. Tanaka’s older relatives, maybe grand father, if I remember what you wrote well.

    Nice colourful post !

  7. Rebecca Thompson says:

    Great photos Peter. Interesting, too, because we were talking about fall colors at our last bonsai meeting. A new member reported that none of his maples had color this fall and he wanted to know why and what to do to make sure that didn’t continue to happen in the future. Maybe you have some advice to add on that issue?

    Dress warmly and you’ll manage the Japanese cold winter!

    Looking forward to seeing you stateside soon.


    • Peter Tea says:

      Great question Rebecca!

      I’ve noticed that if the the tree is not healthy or got really beat up by the Summer sun, the leaves will not produce very good colors. They tend to go from green to brown very quickly. My advice would be to make sure that the tree is healthy first. Second is to shade cloth the tree during the Summer to protect it from the heat. Defoliating the tree in the Summer will also help in producing longer lasting color. Assuming of course that the tree is ready for that. Of course, the weather comes into play and we don’t have control over that. When the weather turns cold quickly, that usually results in the best color. If the weather is slow to get cold or there is strange temp swings, the colors might not be as nice. Take care Rebecca!

  8. Frank Kelly (Ardath Bonsai and Suiseki, Canberra Australia) says:

    Hi Peter,

    It only seems like yesterday that we were at ASPAC in Takamatsu and at Taiken-ten enjoying the beautiful autumn colours. I’m missing it heaps!
    Great to catch up with you in person for the BCI tour group dinner in Takamatsu. I really enjoy your posts and the info you so willingly give to us. Enjoy your ‘White Xmas’ this year while we have our usual warm Xmas here in sunny Down Under Australia.

    • Peter Tea says:

      Hi Frank,

      It was good meeting you at Takamatsu as well. This is going to be the first time I spend Christmas in Japan. I wish we had some nice warm weather like you guys. It’s starting to get cold here! LOL. Thanks for checking out the blog! As I learn more, I like to spread it around so that Bonsai can continue to grow in the world. People are always telling me that there isn’t enough good information out there so I’m just trying to do my part in changing that. Thanks again!

  9. Chris Ross says:

    The yard there looks amazing and inspiring. Wish you could have been here for our Marin club’s Fall show. It, too was quite beautiful, over seventy trees. We have wonderful memories at Marin club of you and your presentations here and wish we could have shared the show with you. Thanks for your terrific posts and for sharing your experiences so clearly and interestingly with us.

    • Peter Tea says:

      Thanks for following the blog Chris. It would have been nice to have gone to the Marin Show. Some of my best Bonsai memories are when I was there. Everybody is so friendly and I had a great time. I’ll be back in no time and cruising through the shows again and it’ll be like I never left. LOL! Take care Chris

  10. Sam Edge says:

    Peter does that last maple have a curved trunk at the top?

    • Peter Tea says:

      Hi Sam,

      Yes, the last Trident has a curve on the top and comes down making the whole left side of the tree. It’s a very unusual tree and I plan to write a post just about it in the near future. Thanks!

  11. Dominic says:

    Hi,Peter you did a great job with this blog , i join it now a couple of month and i am in between joy and pain because you live that live i want to 25 years ago . Thank you very much that i can follow your steps, sorry for my english is not good enough to say what i want to .

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