Pushing the Limit 2 with the Scenic Route

Pushing the Limit 2 with the Scenic Route

I thought you’d all enjoy an update about this Black pine that was heavily bent last Winter.  If you missed that post, you can see visit it here, Pushing the Limit.  Though the update of this tree alone is not very scenic as suggested in the title, I decided to tie it together with a trip we took about a month ago to Mie Prefecture which is about 4 hours Southwest of Nagoya.  We headed down south to visit a Bonsai nursery but like a dummy, I completely forgot to take pictures of the place.  I did however take pictures of the surrounding landscape though which I will be sharing with you.  But first off, let’s talk Bonsai!

Here is the tree as of July 2012.  It’s alive!  At the start of Spring, I lightly fertilized the tree and it didn’t seem to miss a beat.  The top is growing as strong as the bottom and there is no doubt in my mind now that the heavy bends we did to it wasn’t as bad as I though.

Here is a shot of the new candles at the top of the tree.  Nice a strong!  Having bent the trunk in two spot, I thought it would have slowed the top significantly.  In this very rare case, I was wrong.  ;op

Here is a shot of the tearing when we did the first initial bend. (When I say we, I mean, Juan, Scott, and myself).  I thought it would be cool to remove the cut paste and see how the tree has managed the damage.

Here is the wound with the cut paste removed.  It seems that the live tissue grew a thin layer of bark and recovered just fine.  The top portion of the bend where there was actual wood breaking has started to callus but I didn’t remove the cut paste because I didn’t want to risk damaging the callus.  I’ll give the tree another year before I clean out all of the cut paste and see how well everything healed.

If you ever wondered what a sunburned pine needle looks like, look no further.  After we bent the tree in the Winter, I kept the tree in the workshop for about two months to protect it from the freeze.  Once the nights stopped freezing at the end of March is when I took the tree outside for some sun.  Though the Spring sun was light and cool, it still managed to burn the needles.

Here’s a shot of the underside of the same needle.  Nice and green.  Normally Pine needles don’t get sun burnt unless they are protected from the sun for an extended period of time.  Though the needles on this tree are all sun burnt, in the Fall, I will pull all of those needles and the tree will look nice and green again.

Here’s a shot of the area that was bent.  All of the wires and screws are still in place.  I wiggled the guy wires and found them to be slightly soft which tells me that the bends are starting to hold.  I will remove the guy wires in the Fall of 2013.  This year, I’m going to skip the de-candling so the tree can get really strong.  In the Fall I plan on pulling the old needles and wiring the branches.  In the Spring of 2013, I will repot the tree.  You’ll get an update of those events as they come!  Now back to the bench with some fresh fertilizer!

Mie Prefecture

This photo is courtesy of Wikipedia.  The Red is where Mie Prefecture is located within Japan.

Nagoya is in Aichi Prefecture and we drove all the way to the Southern part of Mie Prefecture right next to Wakayama Prefecture.

Mie Prefecture is mountainous unlike Nagoya which is very flat.  The mountains are like giant stones with plants growing on top of it.  Many small towns form at the base of these mountains.

It was a foggy and misty day, which made it very relaxing.

During a stop along the scenic drive, we found this whole side of a mountain covered in Ferns.  I’ve never seen so many ferns together before!

On the opposite side of the ferns was this Ocean cove view.

Here is the Pacific Ocean at another one of our stops.

It was very peaceful hearing the waves crashing on the stones below.  The cool breeze brought in fresh clean air.  Look at how blue the water is!

More blue water!

Of course, anywhere you drive in Japan, there’s always a tunnel to drive through.  I lost count of how many we went through.

and they’re still building more tunnels!

Here’s a shot of Mark (visiting apprentice) looking cool with the shades and readying his camera.

Since all of the roads in this area is cut along the mountains, the Japanese take great precautions in preventing rock slides.  Here is a huge concrete retaining wall to keep the land from moving.

Here’s another example of another retaining wall.  Underneath the fence is some sort of hard surface on top of the soil and rock.

Even another type of retaining wall!

Here is an example of a massive concrete wall built to hold back landslides.  I looks like it can stop a whole mountain from falling on us!

Of course, it wasn’t just all retaining walls.  Here’s a small waterfall.  As you can see, the mountain is literally made entirely of stone.

There were areas where there wasn’t even a paved road but a dirt and rock road.  After we visited the Bonsai nursery, Mr. Fujiwara took us deep into the forest to look around (or at least, as deep as there was a road).

We made a stop and decided to look for suiseki!  This river is small during this time of year.  During the rainy season, this whole stone bed is underwater!

As we walked down the dry river, we came to this man-made pond!  The water was so clear that I could see the multicolored rocks at the bottom!  We hung out searching for suiseki for about an hour with no luck.  It was time to head home.

On the way back, we decided to stop for a drink.  I thought this Potato boy machine was interesting.  The only thing it sold was potato chips.  Nice!

As we were driving home, this rock formation caught all of our attention!  The van came to a skidding stop because we just had to get a picture of it!  What does the rock look like to you?

Below the rock formation, we found this Red Pine growing out of a crack in the stone.

On the opposite side of the rock formation was a rocky beach.  We were the only ones there as far as I could see.

Don’t let this peaceful picture fool you.  Mr. Tanaka in the distant was throwing stones at me!  Oh the life of an apprentice…  ;o)

This shot should be used for a screen saver!  Just millions of round stones with no two that are alike.

It took me awhile to get this shot of an incoming wave.  Again, perfect blue water!

Well, that’s where the pictures end, since I fell asleep for the rest of the drive home…  It was a relaxing day that I think we all needed.  It’s been great that Mr. Tanaka will take me on these side trips here and there.  It really does break up the mundane of work at the nursery.  Though I get a great deal of satisfaction from working on Bonsai, it’s nice to take a break from it once in a while (though we did stop at a nursery).

I hope you enjoyed this relaxing post and that you too get a chance to take some time off from your busy days.  It could be a two-week vacation to another continent or a simple drive to the next town.  Relax and enjoy those days because we never get them back.  With the days moving so fast and becoming a blur, it’s important for us all to breathe, slow down and enjoy the view.  Life is already short, why speed through it?

Thanks for reading.

P.S. If you are actively reading this blog, I would appreciate it if you subscribe to it (right column of the blog).  This is one of the best ways for me to know how many people are reading.  Thanks!

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11 thoughts on “Pushing the Limit 2 with the Scenic Route

  1. […] the limits. Peter Tea, one of our favorite bonsai apprentices/dare devils, keeps pushing the bonsai limits and getting […]

  2. Daniel Dolan says:


    The 1st comment related to heat stress…..crucial in Chicago as we have been experiencing 92F-96F on and off for some weeks. When temperatures at at their hottest in your area does Mr. Tanaka say…..”No work today…..too hot for pruning, wiring, etc.”

    How does very elevated temperature affect summer work, which we discussed earlier, on Japanese Maples for example? In other words if it gets over 85F should light pruning, wiring, be postponed?

    If I do work in the evening and keep tree watered and under shade cloth is it experiencing a lot of potentially damaging stress?

    Thank you.

    Best regards,


    • Peter Tea says:

      Hi Daniel and thanks for the question,

      Heat is something we always have problems with here in Nagoya. It’s not necessarily the stress of the heat but the related insect problems as well. For the most part, there hasn’t been any instances where we didn’t wire or prune the tree because of the heat as long as the tree goes under shade cloth right after. Right now, all the deciduous trees are under 50 percent shade and we’re about to defoliate everything again.

      During the Summer if there is a tree that is wired, we will normally keep it in the workshop for a few days after wiring, then put it out under the shade cloth for about a week or so. Then at that point, if it’s a conifer, we’ll put it out in the open sun. Ideally though, if all conifers were under 30 percent shade cloth during the peak of Summer (August), they wouldn’t be as stressed.

      So Daniel, if you’re working on the trees during the Summer, shade cloth should do the job in protecting the tree from the heat and strong sun. Only healthy trees should be worked on during the Summer but that pretty much goes for all the season anyways.

      Thanks Daniel and take care!

  3. Jeff Aldridge says:

    Peter; it would be great to know how you pros manage summer heat stress,(leaf scorch, watering fertilizing, etc.). In particular, I am having big problems with my Himeshara. Thanks!

    • Peter Tea says:

      Hi Jeff,

      I would say first off it depends on the soil medium you use. Himeshara (Stewartia) likes a lot of water and it seems that if they accidentally dry out, the top of the tree is usually the first to go! Which can be very disappointing. We keep them in high amounts of akadama to keep the water level up. You can put sphagnum moss on top of the soil to give it even more protection from drying out. Don’t worry about overwatering because they love the water.

      Other deciduous trees can be treated the same though Himeshara tends to take a dry spell much harder then say a Trident Maple. The best advice for deciduous trees are that it’s better to be too wet then to be too dry.

      During the Summer, all of our deciduous trees are under 50 percent shade cloth. We feed mildly during the Summer till the leaves turn in the beginning of Winter. If your trees are still in development, feeding should start in the Spring. If the trees are more developed and you’re looking to build ramification of the small branches, then don’t feed till after the Spring growing season.

      I would say the the best steps are to take extra care in watering and putting up some shade cloth. The shade cloth will make a huge difference and the trees will think it’s Spring again and will push strong growth.

      Of course, if you have insect of fungus problems during the Summer, it’s good to treat as quickly as possible to keep the tree from slowing down or weakening.

      Good question Jeff! I hope this helps. Take care!

  4. tmmason10 says:

    Wait, I thought Japan was a day ahead of us, I didn’t know they were a year ahead of us peter! Seriously though, thanks for the update and the trip pictures.

  5. Ray C says:

    You are doing what I can only dream of, great blog keep it coming

  6. Rui Marques says:

    Wow, so much to see in Japan.

  7. (*_^) Ah, la dure vie d’un apprenti …

  8. Penny Pawl says:

    The coast is beautiful! thank you

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