Carving Hornbeam at the Hidden Gardens

I’ve been heading down to the Hidden Gardens often this past month. My work schedule at Argonne is pretty variable, so days I get off or get out early Jeff’s been letting me hang and help out at the nursery.

One of the projects I recently worked on was an American Hornbeam with massive dieback. In contrast to the coniferous yamadori found at the nursery Jeff started carrying collected deciduous material. Mainly American hornbeams, but red maples, lilacs, oaks, among others can be found.

Many of these trees have significant post collection dieback. On one end the dieback detracts from the value of the tree–the likelihood of creating a “seamless” trunk becomes increasingly difficult.

The same dieback however provides an opportunity to impart character and to impose a ruggedness characteristic of trees at the Hidden Gardens. Jeff gave me full reins to pick out a hornbeam to carve–so I did!

I have very little carving experience, but I did participate in one Will Baddeley workshop discussed here.

The tree I selected had a decent base with twin trunks–both of which significant dieback.

20170801_125208

20170801_121620

I neglected to take good before shots but there wasn’t too much to show. The bark was carefully stripped to separate the dead and live regions. The two trunks were crossing significantly so Jeff and I decided to cut the left one off. With minimal movement and little top growth on a mostly dead trunk the decision was easy.

I proceeded to shade the regions I wanted to carve out. When using high powered die grinders and dremels its easy to take out a chunk of tree you’ll never get back. Better to take it slow then to hog down big chunks of wood right off the bat.

20170801_125134

20170801_130759

After assessing the deadwood I began carving. First with the lower chopped trunk then with the top. A dremel was used both to establish a hollow and to add detail work. A die grinder was used on the top to remove excess wood.

The final height of the right trunk will actually be much lower (up to the sharpie) but I opted not to chop it back. Currently the narrow strip of cambium is solely supported by some top growth. Chopping lower risks dieback to the extent where deadwood will comprise more than half of the trunk. While deadwood has its place among deciduous trees it can easily become overpowering.

The trunk will be left alone with the intent of approaching grafting one of the suckers mid height onto the trunk. Until growth is established either through backbudding or grafting cutting back poses to great a risk.

20170801_162645

20170801_161835

20170801_145643

20170801_160315

20170801_162656

The bottom carving turned out very well. The top, not as much. It was challenging creating a wide channel through the curved trunk. The same techniques I used to create detail work on the smaller lower trunk resulted in a contrived appearance on the top. The second mistake I made was not offsetting channels in the top enough. This meant you could see through the trunk at some angles. Fortunately this was not the case for the potential fronts.

20170803_171451

20170803_172229
Flaw in top work seen here

20170803_171515

I may try to clean up the top more in the future and put more depth in the “flatter” areas. For now we’ll see how the grows next season as its not particularly strong at the moment. Working on this tree was good practice and I’m certain my next carving project will be even better.

Big thanks to Jeff for letting me potentially butcher a tree. I just hope that my work increased the value of the tree instead of depreciating it.  😅

On a side note I’ll be heading up to the Midwest Bonsai Show possibly all 3 days! I offered Jeff to help table and prep for the show so I’ll be hitching a ride with him up to the botanical gardens. I’m trying to reach out to the bonsai community more and hope to meet many people there. I plan to document the show on my blog so stay tuned.

For your viewing pleasure here are some photos of a sunrise I recently photographed:

20170731_054827

20170731_053245

 

 

 

In Chicago! Bontsai in the Midwest

From the Southern California suburbs I found myself in the Midwest. Farms and all, but still within close proximity to the city and the outdoors. I’ve began an internship at Argonne National Lab, a great opportunity not only for my professional career but for me to network and meet new people.

20170618_160710

I aspire to pursue bonsai professionally and I think a big component of that is getting to know the community. For my brief time here I hope I am able to meet as many Midwest enthusiasts as I can! I will try to attend both the Prairie State Show and the Midwest Show in August. I’m always up for a bike ride or a trip to the Hidden Gardens too.

On Monday I was able to meet the crew at the Hidden Gardens.

20170626_170029

It was good talking to Jeff as well as meeting Kevin and Jennifer. Their nursery, in contrast to what we have in SoCal, has a TON of yamadori. Old rocky mountain junipers, ponderosas, and spruce occupied most of the benches. This season they also brought in a bunch of deciduous trees with massive hornbeams.

20170626_160450

There were many impressive trees with tons of character. Here is a fir with a massive base:

20170626_163835

RMJ with an twisting shari and live vein:

20170626_160442

One of Jennifer’s trees? Some kind of spruce but the gnarly deadwood and trunk line made it one of my favorites:

20170626_164826

20170626_164834

I should of taken a picture of the entire tree but here’s a massive RMJ with a really nice trunk:

20170626_173446

The high quality character and abundant foliage came with a price. Although not photographed that massive trunk is supported by two skinny strips of live vein. Imagine a body builder who never did squats. The challenge is to relocate the root mass closer to the trunk line so that the tree can be repotted in a more stable and aesthetic position.

I was talking to Jeff about an old Kimura video where he removes the dead wood, splits the live vein connecting to the root mass, and does some crazy bending to relocate it to a more desirable position. I thought that would be the best and possibly only option for this tree and Jeff was thinking the same thing.

The current root mass would need to be placed somewhere between the milk carton and the nursery can. Perhaps next year he’ll undertake the daunting task himself or enlist the help of some pros. Kimura himself would be the best 😀 .

I snapped a picture of Todd Schlafer working on an RMJ too.

20170626_165511

All in all I enjoyed my time at the Hidden Gardens and the hospitality of the whole crew there. Given that I live only a few miles away I definitely plan visit again!

I’d love to buy an RMJ to send back home to SoCal (apparently they grow fine there) but shipping plants into California is a bit of a problem 😦 .

Well that’s it for now folks. If anyone is in the area feel free to message me. I’m open to meeting most any bonsai enthusiasts.

A few shots of the local trails and the secret real glen waterfall. Location courtesy of bnutter “CasAH.”

IMG_20170623_191704_369

IMG_20170623_191704_367

IMG_20170621_174203_845

 

The Great Outdoors: Mt. Wilson

“This trail has been created for you – the city dweller – so that you might exchange, for a short time, the hectic scene of your urban life for the rugged beauty and freedom of adventure into the solitary wonderland of nature.”

– United States Forest Service

Its been long due for a post. If you’ll entertain me, I’ve decided to do something a bit different.

7 AM. Start. Class, research, study, socializing, networking, career, career planning, relationships, improve mandarin, learn Japanese, learn Spanish, work out (gym? cycle? climb?), aspirations, mindless streaming, mindless gaming, more study, eat. Stop. Despite achieving some, I am successful in none. Even if only temporary I sought an escape–an interlude from the chaos imposed by day to day life.

Memorial day weekend arrived and with more time on my hands I decided to set out on a hike. Although I’ve been afforded many hiking opportunities in the past, it had been at least 3-4 years since I went on something more substantial. For the route in question, perhaps 5 years since my last attempt. Of since I’ve gained a much greater appreciation of the outdoors. All things considered, I was eager to set out.

I would be hiking Mt. Wilson starting from the Gabrielino Trail and looping back on Mt. Wilson Trail. The route is approximately 15 miles round trip with 4,000 ft of elevation gain.

mt wilson map

I began my day at 5:00 AM, an unholy hour. While the sane, should they have the choice, was sleeping in I packed my gear and set out early to secure parking.

20170527_054621
But hey, the cat’s awake though!

I was heading to the Chantry Flats station. Despite getting there at 6:25 AM, 25 minutes after they open the gate, the parking lot was already completely filled. I was fortunate to find parking further down the road. Had I been enthusiastic enough I could of biked up there and locked it to the provided racks, bypassing the need for parking. I wasn’t too keen on stacking a difficult bike ride and hike together. Perhaps next time.

20170527_063822

I followed the Gabrielino Trail, a popular well traversed segment likely due to its creek-side pathing. Water running through the Santa Anita Wash created a lush understory and a diverse canopy of both deciduous and evergreen trees. White alders dominated the landscape with oaks mixed in.

20170527_065407

20170527_070417

20170527_070732

I also got a look at the nearby Sturtevant Falls. Even at 7 am there were still a fair amount of people at the falls. Speaks for its popularity.

20170527_072457

As the trail branched away from the creek the canopy transformed into groves of live oaks, one of my favorite species for bonsai cultivation and in its natural form. One oak in particular stood above the rest. The enormous trunk and boulder its’ roots grasped was a testament to it’s age–undoubtedly a centennial at minimum. It’s difficult to get a sense of scale but the boulder is at least 5-6 feet tall.

20170527_071632

Here are some shots for the remainder of the Gabrielino Trail.

20170527_074123

20170527_075851 (1)

The Gabrielino trail led into Sturtevent Trail which would be taken to the summit. The gradual incline became steeper and steeper and white firs and big cone spruce would begin to take hold.

20170527_085447

20170527_083634

20170527_091656

The dense canopies restricted your field of vision but the latter half of this segment afforded expansive vistas.

20170527_091530

20170527_092123

20170527_091319

20170527_095946

Soon after I reached the top. Instead of pristine alpine summit you’re met with paved roads and astronomical equipment. As a consolation prize you get to eat at a cafe.

20170527_101114

20170527_102400

20170527_102637

Of course, the trip wouldn’t count if I didn’t photograph the USGS marker.

20170527_113202

The views back down were nothing special but I did see many spectacular manzanitas–characterized by the striking contrast between their red bark and bleached deadwood. Highly sought after as bonsai, but are extremely difficult to collect and keep.

20170527_113622

All in all it was an enjoyable trip and I plan to do more in the future. I hope you’ve enjoyed my post and its off topic nature. Thanks for taking a look!

Bonus panorama shot:

20170527_095006

Carving workshop with Will Baddeley

Easter Sunday wasn’t spent in pious gatherings or church festivities but rather in the deafening whirling of 8-9 simultaneously running dremels. I came unprepared for the onset of woody carnage. Flying bits of wood, flying bits, and flying die grinders. Good thing I was wearing eye protection. This action was found in non other than a Will Baddeley workshop–a bonsai professional from the UK with a focus on carving. There were 9 participants with a wide arrange of material including olives, bald cypress, buttonwood, boxwood, and others.

20170416_120349

I neglected to take pictures of everyone’s’ trees but got a few good shots. For starters here are my own trees:

nandiners
Large nandina bamboo with corky bark
20170416_095720
Foliage tied down to clear space for carving

I dug out this nandina several months back. Considering how much foliage it has put out and that it was relatively secure in the pot (meaning new roots) I was confident that the tree could handle the stress of carving. I would be carving down all the middle trunks that failed to backbud post initial collection as well as a stub in the front where I had removed a low sub trunk. Will’s workshops are very hands on–meaning you do most of the work and he provides the direction.

20170416_104732

I really should of taken my time here and was fortunate I didn’t compromise the design. I went all out and grabbed a makita die grinder with a large 3/4s or 1 inch ball carbide and grinded away. All those mid sub trunks were obliterated but I quickly realized that I needed to leave some wood to do finer detail work on.

20170416_112722

I used this triangular bit to add in some channels and prepared the next region for carving by stripping the bark. The stub would become an uro with a lip and the outer region would be recessed more. A lot of Will’s advice emphasized depth. Meaning that instead of carving clear cut holes you should do them at angles to create shadows or pockets. Doing so created more realistic deadwood as opposed to a contrived flat image.

20170416_114346

Best shot I could get at the time but you can see it taking shape.

20170416_144848

Rough work in the back. Edges need to be worked and detail put in.

20170416_144906

Hollowing some small sub trunks on another side. A nice detail I added here myself is a spiraling piece of wood. Its in the upper middle part of the shot and was carved out from one of the larger sub trunks.

Some finished shots. The carving could be refined and use some detail work but for the most part its done. I will allow the tree to grow unrestricted the entire year with lots of fert. Next spring I will cut back the outer sub trunks more and select primary branching.

20170416_191303
Final shot
20170416_191314
Image is a bit flat but the carving here was the best on the entire tree in my opinion. The lip has lots of detail and character
20170416_191321
I realize that I didn’t clean up the bottom of the channels with the obvious drill bit holes. At the time the entire tree was covered in sawdust and details like that went unnoticed

Tree dos:

This is jujube I’ve actually had for quite a long time. It started out as a tree in my parent’s yard. They were going to throw it out so I took it and bonsai’d it. Meaning chopping off 90% of the tree. Although covered this tree has REALLY good nebari with nice thick spreading surface roots. I didn’t really do anything with it and just let it grow the past few years. Last year it sulked a bit from over-watering but overall seemed out. There was some dieback from the initial cutback and decided that I might as well bring it to the workshop since I had no other plans.

20170416_094852
Removing bark and prepping for carving
20170416_120211
Top hollowed
20170416_150419
Hard to see detail here but under Will’s advice I created lips on the outside and angled cuts to create depth
20170416_150424
Top prepped for detail work. Did not take a close shot of top after detail but its dark. I’ll stick it in later
20170416_191416
Final shot. Burned the wood a bit to add depth.

Plan is to feed heavily and allow for strong growth. I will use basic wiring and clip and grow to develop this tree. I plan to make the foliage weeping seeing how mature trees have overhanging foliage. If they live I’ll post updates in the summer. Should prove to be interesting projects for me to mess around with.

Anyhow enough of my trees and onto shots of the workshop and trees other people brought:

20170416_090833
Settling in the morning
20170416_091944
Safety talk
20170416_093029
Assessment of trees
20170416_094056
Work on a large olive. Neglected to photograph the tree but a lot of wood removed on this one
20170416_095550
Jamie’s bald cypress
20170416_104908
Hank’s olive
20170416_105142
Nelson’s buttonwood. Gnarly deadwood on this one
20170416_112553
Getting all up in there
20170416_150211
Detail work
20170416_150214
Bob’s boxwood
20170416_150618
Nelson’s buttonwood enjoying a wash and reprieve from carving

A group picture I stole. Hank took the shot. Missing Jamie and Jack if I  have that right?

17949887_1589736281067285_1312011958_o

Well that’s it folks. If I find any good shots I’ll add them in. All in all I had a good time. It was nice talking to Nelson, Jamie, as well as meeting many new people. Was able to have a hand at my first serious carving attempt even if it wasn’t very good. Hope you enjoyed the read! These posts take quite some time to make so if you liked it a subscription is cool too.

Large Coast Live Oak and Labor Extortion at Kimura Nursery

I was recently offered a spot in a Will Baddeley workshop. Bob informed me that some space was open and in lieu of the workshop fee I could also trade in work. I didn’t have $200, but with the onset of spring break I did have time. With a few trees that could use carving as well as an opportunity to meet more members of the bonsai community I gladly accepted. I spent the last few days working at his nursery doing anything asked of me. If I could sum up the 15 or so hours of work in one word–deweeding.

20170325_092213

20170325_115827

In seriousness it was good to spend some time outside and I enjoyed talking to Audrey and Bob. I will be attending the Sunday April 16th workshop and look forward to meeting those there.

20170325_145428
Great weather on the days I came

Anyhow on to the tree. Winter of 2015 I picked up a large coast live oak from Barry Altshule. I visited his home and was able to get first pick before he brought the trees to that year’s GSBF Convention. It had good character, gnarly deadwood, and decent taper. All in all it looked like an interesting tree and I picked it up.

20151024_105032

As seen in the picture, the whole front of the tree died off at some point. The heath of the tree as purchased wasn’t the best either and lacked a lot of foliage. .This was caused by borers of which were still in the tree! In the successive growing season I had to treat the tree with a systemic as well as physically removing the borers and treating the points of entry. After a year and a half of strong growth I can confidently say that the borers are gone and the tree is healthy.

deadwood

Tons of character on the wood. These trees were collected and the slow growth with subsequent weathering produced gorgeous deadwood.

20151126_134217

There was also significant dieback at the top of the tree as seen by the “L” shaped line. Despite the tree’s character and nice deadwood there were many design challenges. For one the tree lacked good primary branching not to mention the awkward transition to the apex as well as random bulges on the back. The tree was fed well to prepare for the major repotting.

Oaks being a semi-evergreen tree hold their leaves year round. This makes repotting difficult and many have reported losing their trees post repot. I was advised to defoliate the tree prior to repotting as to avoid transpiration loss and presumably a weak or dead tree.

oak repot20160213_110139_zpsvcvgdolo

The tree responded well and leafed out 1-2 weeks later. The top chop would be carved and and some preliminary wiring was done. In retrospect I should have cut back the front branch at this time to get better budding closer to the tree. But given that it was weak and had borers I feared the front of the tree dying and losing the bridge of live tissue between the top cut and the main deadwood.

Anyhow here is the tree several months later having pruned unnecessary branching as well as wiring some primary branching in place. As far as cut-backs for oaks the best time is mid-late winter right before the buds start swelling, and right after peak summer temperatures when (at least for coast live oaks) begin a second strong flush.

20160611_163047
Spring 2016

I missed the window to do cut backs on the larger primary branches due to my concerns of dieback. Due to my impatience I cut back the front branch with poor timing. It did throw out one tiny bud, but it was burned up in the heat. Fortunately I was able to get some side primary branching going.

Here is a shot of the branch structure developed at this time:

oak structurea
Late spring 2016

With several months of strong growth primary branches thickened substantially.

oak structure
Summer 2016

From my brief experience, coast live oaks develop SUPER fast in Socal. All the branching in this photo was developed from scratch.

At this point development was done for the year and I fed the tree aggressively to prepare for the big cut-backs to be done

I cut the tree back some time in late January. Just before the tree starts sending up sugars so food would not be allocated to branches that would be thrown away.

20170129_115506
Exposed

A few weeks later

oak treesa

Fast forward nearly 2 months later it it became a head of green.

20170327_165330

Yes leaves and outer nodes are monstrous, but the node length for the first few pairs are short and usable. I tried out these dried hard balls of composted chicken poo and turns out they had much more nitrogen than I anticipated. Thankfully it was slow release so my initial growth didn’t come out with poor internodal length.

Unfortunately I did not get buds directly on the big branches I cut back. I did however get plenty of buds near it and opted to approach graft branching in place. My top side branch was removed entirely and will allow an adjacent shoot to fill in the space.

20170329_16453820170329_16445120170329_164445

It’s a bit chaotic but I will be allowing the new growth to grow unrestricted until late summer when I do the cut backs. This will help me thicken my primary branches and give strong back budding when I do the cuts.

On the tree I did a total of 3 approach grafts. One in the front and 2 in the back. Unfortunately the front stub is dead but the cambium behind it bridging the gap between the top chop and front deadwood is alive and strong. Meaning graftable.

20170329_161806

20170329_161759
Cut is probably too deep

20170329_16440320170329_164344

20170329_164412
Few dormant buds on my branch that should wake up after cut backs

Not the cleanest grafts but I have confidence in them. As long the cambium underneath is alive and strong the branch should eventually fuse as it thickens up. Least I’m counting on it.

Here is the finished tree post spring styling. Extensions will be cut back and after a year the basic form of the tree will be set! Hard to believe it has developed this much in under 2 years. It’s hard to see the form with all the leaves but I will post an update when I do my cut back later this year.

20170329_161004
Syringe is for the tree, not me

A quick before and after showcasing the current progress:

Thanks for taking a look and I hope you’ve the read. Feel to leave me any comments. Have a great day! 🙂

 

Here is a more updated picture of the tree from April:

It is healthy and developing well.

20170408_133851

Bonsai-a-thon XXI: New friends and stories

Last weekend I was able to attend the 21st Bonsai-a-thon hosted at the Huntington Gardens. It was a good opportunity to meet members of the bonsai community and to check out some rad trees! I was only able to stay for a few hours Saturday and for the first half on Sunday. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the event for the time I was able to attend.

Meeting new people is my weak suit, so it was great for me make some bonsai friends.

Day 1:

I had missed the demonstrations in the morning but still was able to check out the displayed trees and vendors. The display was hosted by the Viet Bonsai Society for this years show and the quality of the trees were superb. I saw many familiar faces and vendors including Frank Yee, who has been very nice to me since I joined up with Santa Anita Bonsai Society and Barry Altshule who I grabbed a nice live oak from 2 years ago. No shots of vendors unfortunately but here are the trees:

20170225_12412120170225_124149-120170225_124328-120170225_124427-120170225_12422720170225_124313-120170225_12420320170225_124302

20170225_124529-1
Jim Barrett elm donated to the Huntington Gardens
20170225_132038
Al Nelson coast live oak donated to gardens

During the first day I went to Dick Ryerson’s table and talked to him and Phil Hogan (correct me if I got his last name wrong). Dick shared an interesting story about a glaze with me. The so called “million dollar yellow.”

yellow-glaze
A picture of the glaze I stole from the net

Glazes, or the finish put on pots, are a cumulation of chemistry, ingredients, and artistry. During the high firing process many metals or other components of the glaze oxidize changing in appearance and color. Variations are endless, but when done right you can make a pot of unrivaled character and beauty. For the same reason recipes for highly sought after glazes are often kept secret by the artist. For a particular pottist in China, that secrecy resulted in the recipe dying with him. To the Chinese government’s (or maybe a private company?) dismay, no one could reproduce the highly sought after yellow. Desperate to have the recipe again they offered $1,000,000 (yes, one million dollars) to anyone who could reproduce it. Potter Otto Heino and his wife would spend 15 years trying to reproduce the glaze, and was ultimately successful in doing so. Officials came to his home, confirmed that the glaze was indeed authentic, and paid him the 7 figure check. There was one caveat though–for as long as Heino was alive they could only buy the glaze from him, but would give the formula after his death.

The most amusing part comes next. Heino took that 7 figure sum, presumably an unheard of amount of money in the community he lived in, and deposited at this local bank. Word got around that Otto Heino had deposited a million dollars for “pot.” Yes…that kind of pot. Due to the misunderstanding the local police stormed into his home the following evening and tore up his place in search of the aforementioned “pot.” Goes to show how valuable “pot” can be.

I ended up buying a pot from Dick and put a nice small live oak in it. The tree in question is discussed in my previous post.

20170225_140713

20170225_161430
Coast Live Oak in Ryerson pot

Day 2:

I was recommended by Dick and Phil to watch the Al Nelson’s demonstration on Sunday. Al’s an expert on developing live oak bonsai and was advised to talk to him. I arrived to the Huntington Gardens early Sunday morning with just that intention but ended up doing something entirely different.

One of the demonstrators was Bob Pressler. Bob’s a well known person in the local bonsai scene and owns Kimura Nursery in Northridge. I had just arrived at the demonstration room when Bob asked the onlookers for a volunteer. Surely, among the audience (most of whom are at least twice my age) had more experience with bonsai and was better suited to help out–but no one volunteered. I thought, “heck why not, it should be fun” and walked over to Bob’s table. For the next 3 hours I applied raffia and wire on a medium sized kishu juniper. Bob on the other hand was working on a bottle-brush (callistemon) tree.

Bob was donating the bottle-brush to the raffle while the kishu would be kept, only brought as a demonstration. As we were finishing up he turned over to me and asked, “do you know what we’re going to do with the tree?” Semi-cascade would be the obvious answer but Bob had mentioned he’d like to do something more interesting if possible, so I replied, “I don’t know.” He said, “you’re going to take it home.”

20170226_093606
Al Nelson, to be working on a group planting of pygmy cypress
20170226_103914
Lets take a look…
20170226_103911-1
“What have you done to my tree”

I never expected to participate in the demonstration, not to mention taking a tree home. Bob’s a pretty cool guy and I enjoyed talking to him. Working the tree as a “demonstrator” really enabled me to talk to other members of the bonsai community as well. I was approached by Helen Barrett and talked about cycling, bonsai, and her athletic feats. She later introduced me to her husband, Jim Barrett who makes awesome pots. All in all, it was a fun experience.

20170226_145445

This is the best shot of the tree I have for now. I will be styling it later this month and will post it up on my blog so be sure keep a look out.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my post and feel free to leave a comment. These posts really do take quite some time to make so a subscription would mean a lot.

Julian

Why I Love Bonsai and My Trees!

20161210_155000
My favorite bonsai nursery, ie the enabler

I started bonsai as a hobby 3 years ago. It wasn’t over an awe inspiring tree or most famously, with Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid but rather on an impulse. I was hitting the Southern California surf but instead of pulling out a new PR catch I found a large rock, reminiscent of mountain, stuck in the white water of the falling tide. I pulled it out and almost immediately I thought, “wow I bet a tree would look cool on this.” The following day I surfed the net looking how I could put a tree on a rock and I was introduced to bonsai. Right then and there, it clicked and I knew “bonsai” was something I wanted to do.

10672036_10202496860814881_4337497382755347215_n
2014 Southern California Surf

Fast forward 3 years I still love it and pursue it with ever increasing interest. Despite my love for this art I cannot concisely describe why I enjoy it so much. At face value, bonsai could show an artfully crafted tree–perhaps something nostalgic of an ancient mountain juniper:

Or what we idealize a tree to be:

20160324_144331

Beyond the appearance, especially since I don’t have any trees nearly as nice as the ones I’ve been posting 😀 , bonsai provides me with perspective. In many ways they resemble people. Like people, they take many years to cultivate. And over the course of time, they change. Struggles and hardship can become their defining characteristic or something that is overcome. Although a “perfect” tree is admirable in the meticulous care or growing conditions needed to develop it, the ones with “flaws” often show the most character and capture the most interest:

oaker
Richmond Park, courtesy of Bobby Lane
mach5-maple
Japanese Maple, image taken by Sergio Cuan

And while the trees don’t give a damn about what we think, we impose our beliefs on them and in turn the many years of horticulture and artistry needed to craft them into bonsai. Ironically they end up becoming their own entity all together instead of a reflection of the people who worked on it. In some cases they even become a legacy, living past a human lifespan:

hiroshima
400 Year White Pine that survived Hiroshima: US National Arboretum

If anything bonsai has taught me–rather, forced me to accept that anything good in life takes time to get. I enjoy slowly developing my trees as much as I  e̶n̶j̶o̶  am developing my own life. On both ends, I hope for the best and will continue to do the best I can do.

Thanks for reading my post and what you’ve been waiting for, my own trees! I will slowly give my various projects designated threads and fill them under the “Tree” submenu so that you can easily find them and check on their progress. If you’ve enjoyed my posts please subscribe, leave me feedback, or share it to others.

20170101_154642

20170107_104722

20170107_105341

20170107_105045

20170101_155754

20170107_105718

20170101_155344

20170101_155110

20170101_154005

20170101_153319

20170101_152415

20170101_151010

20170101_151436

20170101_15192720170101_152236

20170101_152659

20170101_151647

20170101_154848

That’s it! These are most of my trees but I still have other projects in the works as well. Progressions and more projects to be posted in the future.