Category Archives: Black Pine

August and Looking Back

It’s funny how things seem to be so much older looking back a year and a half.  Perhaps it’s not really the age but the improvements over that time that makes things in the past seem so old.  For example, this photo of the first tree I ever styled at Aichien.  I looked through my files and this seems to be the only picture I have of it, which is still a mystery to me why that is.  Compared to the more current photos, this picture just seems old and it makes a year and a half seems like such a long time ago.  Not that I’m that much better at photography these days, but I’d say there is an improvement among other things.

This Black Pine was one of the first post I wrote on my old website back in March of 2011.  Working on this tree taught me heaps about how to get creative with bending branches and styling concepts.  The lowest main branch use to be a not so low back branch and became the main branch because it was the thickest and oldest.  The branch on the middle right was to become a backup main branch if the main branch were to die from the bend.  Reason for having the backup is because we did a lot of twisting of the main branch, which can be very risky.

Looking back at this tree reminds me of how much I’ve learned since the beginning.  This tree really moved me away from my focus on the exterior of the tree and more into the interior structure of the tree.  That’s what the work on this tree is really all about.  It wasn’t about showy pads, or clean lines, or a bonsai silhouette  but setting the main branches and core of the tree to create a more interesting and structurally sound tree.  After all was done, the tree was put in a corner in nursery and in a way forgotten for over a year as it continued to grow.

Now the tree is back! In July, this tree was brought back into the workshop to move it on to the next stage of its development.  The tree grew very well, including the heavily bent branches.  I was pleased and happy that the tree has grown well and reinforced what I’ve learned in the early days here.  Now it’s time to de-candle the tree, pull some needles, remove the wires and the black plastic rope on the bent branches.

First thing I did was de-candle the tree and pulled the old needles down to five pairs (If you’d like more info on De-candling, see this post here).  Also having looked at the backup branch, we decided to use it in the overall design of the tree instead of cutting if off as originally planned.

Here is a shot of the middle branch that was kept.  Instead of just bending the branch up and making the pad, I focused on adding some movement into the branch to give it more character.

Here is a look at the inside of the tree.  After a year, the rope is still intact and the branches are doing well.  This tree was the first tree I ever used stainless steel wire as a guy wire.

Here is the main branch.  There are two layers of rope supporting this branch with copper wire in between.

Here is the main branch with the first layer of rope removed to show the long heavy copper wire that was used in added support.

Here is what the branch looks like as I removed the layers of rope.  The branch was damp which tells me that the rope held in some moisture which helps the healing process after a big bend.  What do you know, the rope does work pretty good.

Here is the inside after the rope and wire was removed.

Now that all of the wire, rope and candles have been removed, it’s time for the tree to rest and grow new candles.  The tree will probably be repotted in the following Spring so I’m looking forward to that since the pot is extremely heavy for its size!  That’s it for now, and it’s on to the next job!  More on this tree in the Spring of 2013.

August and Bonsai

August is considered the slow month for many Bonsai professionals in Japan.  For many Bonsai apprentices, this is the month that they get their annual 3-6 day vacation (haha, I’m not that luck).  The temperature is high (especially in Nagoya) and most of the time, we’re just trying to keep all the trees hydrated.  Currently we are watering the deciduous trees three times a day and the conifers two times a day.  That means that if I were to water everything in the yard myself, I would spend about 3 hours just in watering!

Though it is August and the slow time, there always seems to be something that needs doing here at Aichien.  Haha!  Most of the things that I’ve been doing, I’ve written about already so not much to talk about, hence why there has been so much time in between post.  That in combination with just trying to make it through the hot days and nights, time seems to have just blurred together for me.  But rest assure, I have many post lined up and lots more to talk about.  Though I haven’t been writing as much, I have been taking lots of photos of future topics.  I’ll be focusing more on short quick post in the future to get the info out to you sooner and more often.

Here are some examples of future topics:

I’ll be writing a post about why this Trident Maple has, “Good Taste,” as Mr. Tanaka puts it.

The styling of this Black Pine for sale at the next Kokufu-ten.

and some interesting observations I’ve made of a very old Japanese Maple.

So stayed tuned, I will get those post written up and out to you as soon as I can.

The Mighty Vending Machine

For those of you who don’t know, vending machines in Japan are very popular.  There seems to be one just about in ever corner!  The majority of them sell drinks but I’ve seen some that sell snack foods, Beer and cigarettes.  Though the beer and cigarette machines are fading, the drink machines are here to stay.  In my recent trip to Mie prefecture, I took various photos but it turns out they must have been out of focus because Mark Ibbett (visiting apprentices) got some very different photos.  Since his camera is much better then mine, I’d have to go with his photos.

My camera totally didn’t pick up that vending machine up top.  I think it’s time for a new camera!

So that’s where Mr. Tanaka was walking to!  There must be a blind spot in my camera…

Good thing there’s another machine on the other side of this river bed because this Boss machine just didn’t have the drinks we wanted!

Thanks for straightening it all out Mark!

Milwaukee in September

For those that don’t know, I will be back home in September for several weeks.  During one of those weeks, I will be headlining the Milwaukee Bonsai Society 42nd Annual Show!  It is a great honor for me that they would have me be their guest.  So if you’re in the Milwaukee Area, please come on by and check out a great show, great events and great people.  Events include, three workshops on Black Pines, Red Pines, and Shimpaku and two bring your own tree workshops.  There will also be special night events for club members that include, A critique of the show, discussion on bonsai ceramics, and a discussion and demonstration on branch development.  I hope to see you there!

For more information about the show, please click here

Thanks for reading!

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