Acer rubrum: root-over-rock

pjkatich

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Here is a current photo of one of my root-over-rock Red Maple's.

It was started from a seed that germinated in 1994 and was planted on the rock in 1996.

The tree was repotted in February of this year. At that time, the height of the tree was reduced by approx. 1/3 (thanks to Martin for this suggestion) and it was planted in this new pot. I still need to fill in the canopy a bit, but I think it's heading in the right direction.

Comments and suggestions are welcome.

I hope you enjoy.

Best wishes,
Paul
 

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Attila Soos

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Very good work with this red maple. Considering the shortcomings of this species (long internodes, large leaves), this is a great example of how one can overcome those with proper training.

One change I would do, to make the image much more interesting and dynamic, and add some emotional charge to it: instead of having the apex growing straigt up, I would give it a direction either to the right or left.

As it stands right now, the top is totally neutral, adds nothing to the overall feeling. It is a top that a tree would have, if it was grown on a peaceful meadow, undisturbed by any external force.
On the other hand, the tree starts up with its powerful roots clutching a rock: this image suggest drama and has an emotional charge, from the outset. So, the way I see it, the trunk has a dramatic start, and then it is neutralized by the peaceful top. Nothing really wrong with that, except that the potential of the tree is not fully realized, or a great start is wasted, so to speak.

Just recently, I was reading a Chinese penjing book that has some great ideas on this topic. It has carefully crafted diagrams, showing how subtle changes in trunk movement evoke entirely different images. For instance, if you move the apex to the right, and re-wire some of the branches, the tree would look like it is lounging forward with full force. It has certainty and power.
On the other hand, if you move the apex to the left (and again, re-wire some branches), the tree looks like "it wants to turn back". It expresses the anxiety of separation, yearning for the past. It has uncertainty and tension.

By the way, all these changes make the tree more "human-like", a common theme in bonsai, to evoke powerful feelings.

Again, it is a nice tree the way it is, I am just looking for ways to make it more interesting and unique.

Regards,
Attila
 
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pjkatich

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Attila,

Thanks for the positive feedback. I appreciate you taking the time to comment in such detail. You make some very good points about the overall feel of the tree. The original apex moved toward the left and added about five more inches to the height of the tree. I have been troubled by this particular aspect of the composition since I reduced the height in February but could not put my finger on exactly what felt wrong about it. As the old saying goes: Sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees.

In your opinion, what direction should the apex move, left or right?

You referenced a book on Chinese penjing, is it one that you would recommend? I would like to improve my knowledge on this subject.

Once again, thanks for the reply.

Best wishes,
Paul
 

anttal63

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beautiful tree indeed. i too just learnt alot from what attila has shared and i too would like to get my hands on that book.
 

Attila Soos

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As to which direction, I have a hard time suggesting one or the other, since it depends on your personal feelings. It may take more pondering and soul-searching on your part before you decide.

I would say that the more straight-forward approach is to continue the movement to the right. So, the top half of the straight portion can be bent to the right, about 30 degrees from the vertical (it doesn't have to be 45 degrees), and then wire the the branches on the bent portion, so that it doesn't look like the top was tilted. Also, if the top is to the right, then the foliage on the left needs to be reduced, so that there is more foliage on the right. The tip of some of the branches that do not point towards right can be wired so that they point towards the overall movement, as if the tree is "reaching out".

If you decide the other way, than the foliage on the left needs to have the greater volume, and it would be important that the tip of the first branch on the right (this branch is very important in the design) should be bent towards left, to lead the eye that way.

Anyway, it really needs to come from you, the way you feel about it.

The book I am talking about I don't really recommend, since it is in Chinese and not translated. But the diagrams are very telling. I got it from China a few days ago, rolled up like a scroll. I do this because I have a very extensive bonsai library, and I have read everything that the West has to offer. So, for a change, I am looking for any ideas that are not in the mainstream.
But if your situation is different, I would first buy books translated into English. One that comes into mind, that treats extensively the design aspect is Robert Steven's book "The Vision of My Soul", and he soon is coming out with a new Penjing book, which I can't wait to see.

Regards,
 
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Attila Soos

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Here is an example of diagrams showing trunk movements. Notice how important is for the overall image that the very top of the apex bends in a certain manner.
Actually, you can use a few of these diagrams to be the inspiration for your tree.
 

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pjkatich

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Attila,

Once again, thank you for your thoughtful insight and the penjing information you posted. I will take your suggestions into consideration as I further develop this tree.

Anttal63,

I appreciate your compliment.


Paul
 

Widgeon

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I think this tree looks really good. Nice job. I like the way it comes off the side of the rock.
 

Martin Sweeney

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Paul,

I like the change you made to the tree very much. Until Attila mentioned it, I did not notice or mind the straight upward movement of the top of the trunk. Of course, now that Attila mentioned it, I can't help but notice it. If you do not mind me saying, I think he is correct. If you don't mind me saying further, I would like to see some movement towards the right to continue the line that starts off the rock. Great work and thank you for posting it.

Would you consider adding a picture from before the rework so others can see the before and after?

Attila,

Please do not think that I am complaining. I appreciate your observations and thoughts concerning the design of the tree.

Regards to you both,
Martin
 

pjkatich

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Martin,

Thanks for taking the time to comment on this tree. Your input is always appreciated.

As you requested, I have attached a couple of photos of the tree before the apex was reduced. The first was taken about this time in 2006 and shows the tree in leaf. The second was taken in February of this year just after the repotting. This shows the branch structure prior to the apex reduction. The third is a close-up of the nebari that was taken in January of 2007 for those that may be interested.

For those that would care to comment, I would be interested in any feedback on the pot selection.

Paul
 

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JTGJr25

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First off that is a very nice tree well done. Second, I like the pot in the first pic best because the colors flow up with the rock and it still has some shades similar to the trunk of the tree.

Tom
 

bretts

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I first thought to the left but that bottom right branch can be used to great effect when the apex is to the right if it is given a greater wieght and the left branches are reduced .

The blue line represents a back branch that may have to be grafted
 

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pjkatich

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Tom,

Thanks for the feedback on the pot selection.

bretts,

Thank you for your input, I appreciate you taking the time to do the virt. I have a question regarding your suggested design. Your written response talks about reducing the brances on the left side of the tree, however, in the virt, you reduced the lower right branch. Would you be kind enough to clarify.

Regards,
Paul
 

cantstopsmilin

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i agree, i really like the pot in the picture, that sandy yellow color is nice and i like the way it looks with the rock and tree :) nice tree by the way :)
 

bretts

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Hi Paul
I was not trying to reduce the right branch but flatten it out.
I just forgot to reduce the branches on the left so I edited my explination. I do not think the branches no the left need reducing that much though. I think working the branch on the right to become thicker and heavy will give most of the effect
The virt was meant to be an explenation of what I meant more than a proper virt.
 
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pjkatich

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Jared,

I'm glad you like the pot, it is one I designed with this tree in mind. I appreciate your comments.

bretts,

Thanks for the clarification, I now have a clear picture of what you are suggesting.

Paul
 

pjkatich

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I decided to see what this tree might look like incorporating some of the earlier suggestions.

Attached is a virtual of what the results could be.

What do you think?

Paul
 

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pjkatich

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Attila,

Now for the hard part, putting the plan into action.

Hopefully, the physical tree will be as cooperative as the virtual tree was.

Thanks for your helpful feedback.

Regards,
Paul
 
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