Tag Archives: Bonsai Design

Pomegranate Bonsai

Pomegranate Plans

If you refer to my Pomegranate Splitting post you’ll see where this little guy came from. Initially I planned to do a twin trunk style with the two main trunks you see.
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As I’ve spent time watering and caring for it I’ve noticed an opportunity to add an artistic aspect to it.
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In this photo above you notice the not-so-great-for-bonsai base it has, combined with the charred look of the bark. I’m not sure what the previous owner of this entire pomegranate was doing to it, but nonetheless.
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This base became significant to me as I noticed that a piece of completely charred deadwood was creating a wedge between the two main trunks and affects every single trunk coming from the base. I was able to identify with this images. It reminds me of the effects of my struggles with addiction and how they affect my family. It creates separation within the family and scars everyone in their own way. This could also be synonymous with divorce, mental illness, or other forms of addiction or abuse.
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As you can see in the previous photos, how this traumatic event affects each person is different. Some almost completely fail, or cease to grow, and others overcome and continue to develop. The “father” trunk in this case, has it continue on and affect the entire structure of the branching and canopy.

I’m not 100% set on how the rest of the smaller trunks will play out, but this tree has plenty of refinement to go and I’ll study and decide as I go. If you have any techniques or artistic ideas of how to bring this story to life, please do leave a comment!

Design and Critique #9 – Chinese Elm

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Masculine vs Feminine:

This tree is very feminine in many ways. The delicate branching with movement complements the movement in the slender trunks. A rounded canopy is the crowning feminine characteristic that pulls everything together.

Design:

The trunks all fill their own space that is designated for them. This is an easy thing to venture off from with multi-trunked trees or forests. The pad formation seems to be more distinct on the left side. I’m not sure if that was intentional or part of the development of the tree.

Comments:

I would love a pot that is a bit more shallow and feminine to fit the feeling of the tree. The pot being a bit oversized might have to do with it being displayed constantly and not being able to have a huge amount of personal attention.

I’m not really a fan of the stone it is shown with or how close it is displayed to the tree.

I think a few of the branches when viewed up close look unnatural in the ways they bend.

Next Up:

Larch

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Design and Critique #8 – Flowering Plum

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Focus:

The focus of this tree is the trunk and the flowers. These two features are so stunning that they overwhelm the display. This takes your attention off of any flaws that might exist.

Branching and Silhouette:

While the branching and ramification leave much to be desired, the silhouette still holds an asymmetrical shape with 3 dimensional aspects.

Comments:

I’m not 100% sure on the size of the stand. I feel it is a bit oversized which takes away from the feminine aspects of the tree. I also feel the pot color fits much better with the purple leaves of a purple-leaf plum (exact species not listed) but it doesn’t mesh as well with the light pink flowers. I do love the companion plant choice. Fantastic tree overall.

Next Up:

Chinese Elm

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Design and Critique #7 – Twisted Pomegranate

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Display:

The display of this tree threw me off for a few reasons. The pot is yellow, which doesn’t seem to fit with pomegranate’s leaves, but would go well with the flowers and fruit. It just seemed a bit loud to go with a winter silhouette showing.

The companion plant looks not so alive (can’t tell from the photo if I’m wrong or not) and awkwardly placed. This is in part due to the apex and confusion of flow which I’ll touch on.

The moss is well put together and looks clean. This can be just as much of an art form as the rest of bonsai itself.

Branching and Silhouette:

The silhouette of this tree rubs me the wrong way. Not to say it is wrong, but design-wise from my understanding I think it is because there isn’t a significant amount of asymmetry in the design.

The defining branch doesn’t seem to come from the trunk but from behind the tree which isn’t very natural looking.

Comments:

I gave critical criticism, but this is a phenomenal tree. Pomegranates are one of my favorite deciduous trees and I wish I had gone to this show to see it in person.

I’d love to see this tree with 3 or so pomegranates left on to complement the yellow pot.

This is my favorite pomegranate and possibly the best deciduous tree I’ve seen in person. This is displayed at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, CA.
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Next Up:

Flowering Plum

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Design and Critique #6 – Crape Myrtle ‘Natchez’

This White Crape Myrtle is another example of harmonious design. The apex, defining branch, and trunk all flow to the right. This tree has a lot to give in terms of showy bark, flowers, and amazing Fall foliage. These features lend enough interest to the tree which allows itself to go with a harmonious design.

Taper: This tree has amazing taper that continues from the base all the way up to the apex. The branches show proportionate thickness as well. The nice part about Crape Myrtles is that they shed their bark and heal wounds fantastically. This makes believable taper more accomplishable without large scars. 

Branching: This tree will continue to develop more ramification as time goes on, but the branching that it currently has does a good job of moving while occupying a good amount of space within the overall silhouette.

Comments: I love that this tree will still display its amazing bark even when in leaf. I wish I had a photo of this tree at what I see as the actual display angle to help me to see the left portion of the tree better.

 

Next Up:

Twisted Pomegranate

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Design and Critique #5 – Design Principles

I’ll start by letting you know that I don’t know what species of tree this is, but it is from the 38th Nippon Bonsai Taikan Exhibition (Photo credit: Bill Valavanis). However, that is not important to know to talk about design principles of bonsai.

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There is a flow to 3 main things that define the type of design that is being used: The defining branch (blue), the apex (red), and the trunkline (black).

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Apex:

The apex is the highest point on the tree. To find the flow of the apex you find the highest point on the tree and put a dot. Then you find where the apex “terminates” or ends by the change in silhouette or pad and mark that on the left and right. Now split that apex in half from left to right. If the highest point is on the right half then it flows to the right, and the same goes for the left portion.

Defining Branch:

The defining branch is typically, but not always, the lowest branch on the tree. This branch has the purpose of defining the longest or widest point of the tree. This branch and the opposing branches on the other side of the silhouette help to form asymmetry in the design.

Trunkline:

To find the flow of the trunkline you draw a line straight up from the middle of the trunk. You then find which half most of the trunk lies on. This photo isn’t the best example of this, but the right side has a large portion of the trunk. This is generally more straight forward than this example. Imagine a semi-cascade or slanting style as a more obvious example of this.

Design Used:

The apex, trunkline, and defining branch all flow the same direction. This is an example of harmony in design. A perfect time to use harmonious design when styling your tree is when you might have an amazing feature that draws a lot of attention. Stunning deadwood, gnarly or smooth bark, or stunning jin or shari are all situations where harmonious design does a great job of complementing those features.

Next Up:

Plans For The Elm

This elm had a rough year. I was hoping to get better ramified branching this year after repotting, but instead of ramification and smaller leaves I got long internodes, vigorous growth, and a near death experience when I left for vacation.

I have this blue pot that I’m excited to combine with the yellow color of the Fall leaves on this Elm.

Both the trunk and the pot are pretty feminine in design, and will compliment each other nicely once combined. The smaller size of the pot will help to facilitate smaller leaves and internodes. Hopefully I can get a bit more progression in refinement this next year.