Tag Archives: Deciduous

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.
IMG_4932
As I’ve spent time watering and caring for it I’ve noticed an opportunity to add an artistic aspect to it.
IMG_4928
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.
IMG_4929
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.
IMG_4930
IMG_4934
IMG_4935
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

DSC_0516 (2)

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

larchmtcdluzcput21bonsaitickler

 

 

 

 

 

Fundamentals of Bonsai – Pruning

There are hundreds of questions on bonsai forums, at clubs, and across the globe about pruning. What to prune, when to prune, why we prune, which species can I prune now, how often do I prune, etc. I want to help clarify these questions.

 

I’ll start with explaining why we prune. There are 3 main reasons to prune:
  • Cleaning
  • Controlling Growth
  • Improving Structure
     We clean to improve airflow and allow sunlight to penetrate into the interior and lower branches. This is also a precursory action to wiring and styling the tree. Trying to wire a tree without cleaning it first can be miserable, especially when doing it on a needle juniper.  Cleaning consists pruning off weak interior growth with little to no ramification and  clearing any foliage in the crotches between the trunks and branches. This includes leggy branches that are not developing in the desired direction.
     Pruning is the way we control growth on our trees. This is how we tell the tree to direct more resources towards a specific branch or section of the tree. This helps to keep your branches a specific length or thickness and give them directional movement to draw interest. This is also the technique we use to gain width in certain branches and keep others from thickening too much. I will go into more detail later on how to do that.
Structural pruning is the way we improve taper, inverse swelling (taper), direct the line of the trunk and branching, and remove flawed or unnecessary branches. Being able to prune effectively is the foundation of successful bonsai practice and design.

 

Before we go pruning anything we need to step back and observe a few things about the tree we’re about to prune. We need to identify:
  1. What species is the tree?
  2. What is the tree’s current health?
  3. Did you repot the tree within the last few months?
  4. Why am I pruning?
  5. Is the ______(tree, branch, etc.) that I’m about to prune in refinement or development?
  6. What season are we in?
  7. What is the effect on the tree’s energy and health if we prune now?
1. Some species hold significant amounts of energy in certain parts of the tree. Junipers hold significant energy in the foliage. When someone interested in bonsai buys a juniper and then prunes a lot of the foliage off they frequently die, this is why. Pines hold their energy in the roots. Deciduous trees hold theirs throughout the tree. Other species have certain timing for an additional flush of growth (Japanese Black Pine) or timing to prune for flowers.
2. If the tree is not healthy, don’t do any work on it unless it involves solving the health issue.
3. If you recently repotted the tree you should avoid pruning so that the foliage mass can help restore the root system that you worked on.
4. The purpose of pruning can include any of the aforementioned reasons – improving structure, controlling and directing growth, or cleaning.
5. We need to understand the stages of bonsai. If you’re not sure what stage your tree is in do some research before.
6. What season we are in can be a great factor in determining if we can prune without damaging the health of our trees. With most coniferous, deciduous, and broadleaf evergreen species the seasons function in the same way. Winter is a period where the tree doesn’t metabolize freely and we often refer to it as dormancy. Spring is a period of heavy growth. There are several periods of using the trees resources to produce more growth, then gaining those resources back through photosynthesis. In Summer some trees can go into a Summer dormancy if the temperatures get above 90° regularly. If you are in a more mild climate your trees may not slow down growth completely. Fall is a time where the trees save energy and focus on thickening branches and roots to help with Winter hardiness.
7. An example of a bad time to prune would be in Spring right after your tree has pushed out a ton of new leaves. If you prune the branches off before the leaves have been able to form a cuticle (finish growing) and reaccumulate energy, then you’re weakening the tree by taking away its ability to gain energy back.
A generally safe bet is the prune in early Spring before buds pop open or additional candles / needles start growing.
I’d like to also state that you can operate outside of these general guidelines, and depending on how you care for your tree afterwards, you can prune at almost any time. However, I would not recommend pruning whenever you please without extensive knowledge and experience.

Design and Critique #8 – Flowering Plum

IMG_3840

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

DSC_0516 (2)

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese Elm Repot

This is my favorite little tree I have at the moment. I’ve been excited for this repot as it’ll finally put the tree into a pot that is correctly sized. The constricted environment that it will provide will increase ramification and give it a smaller leaf size.

img_3291
Started by cutting the wires on the bottom in the middle, then making a flush cut to make sure they aren’t jagged when I drag them through the root mass.
img_3294
This little guy grew pretty vigorously for 1 year after a repot.
img_3296
Raked out the roots to see what I really had to work with.
img_3298
I put some soil in and tried to get a better idea of what would fit in the pot.
img_3289
I prepped the pot with the drain screen and wire ready to take in the tree. img_3290
I’m going to cut the two wires at an angle and fish them through the main portion of the roots or the ‘shin’ of the tree. You then bend them over once they’re through the shin and use that as a means to anchor the tree down.
img_3297
As you can see here, the wires become buried and hidden in the rootball.
img_3300
I then piled up the Akadama and chopsticked it in.
img_3302
I used Akadama as I can use this to be able to scale the roots and branches to get them finer and finer. For a deciduous tree in refinement this is how you can get the most fine ramification.
img_3304
Then the topdressing. This is to help keep the moisture even throughout the Akadama and help with moisture loss on the top portion of the soil.
img_3308
From the top down. Obviously it is going to get some pruning before the Spring comes in.

It made it through one night of sub 32° weather that I missed, but has leafed out without too many issues.

 

Blackbrush Bonsai

I’ve been doing some searching recently for Mojave Desert native plants that would be serviceable for bonsai. Enter Coleogyne ramosissima. This bush has tiny leaves, flowers, is long-lived, and has awesome gnarled bark. While researching this bush I stumbled upon this website that had invaluable information: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/shrub/colram/all.html 

Within the link it explains that these bushes typically grow in areas where caliche impedes deep roots, and that the majority of the root mass is below the plant within 4″ – 12″. This is a realistically collectable species. What is also great news is that these are everywhere and commonly bulldozed around where I live. Perfect, a trash tree has now become my treasure. Hopefully they’re easier to collect than the California Junipers that also fit that bill.

Here are a couple that I scouted out while I was looking for the best candidates to pick out for the next appropriate collecting time.

img_4075img_4082img_4079img_4085img_4081img_4084
Hopefully I’ll be able to grab a few good ones this next Spring or late Summer.

Design and Critique #7 – Twisted Pomegranate

c8f46a_c9144e83551e4716b5462dfef442c115

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.
DSC_0477

Next Up:

Flowering Plum

IMG_3840