Arborvitae Literati

october

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Hello all,
I picked up this tree at Lowes Garden center about 4 years ago... It was like a $7 yellow tag special Fall tree. What caught my eye was the very rare curved trunk on one of these trees, not only unusual for the species, but this was a young tree and only about 15 inches or so.

My original plan was an informal upright. I styled it accordingly. I was going to wait for as long as it took for the trunk to thicken. However, when I friend saw the pic (she knows who she is ) 4 years ago, her first comment was.. "nice literati"... I said, I was going for a furure informal upright, but....hmmm.. So a year later the tree was given about a 40 degree tilt and many branches were cut off...

This year, I cut off the entire top of the tree and I am training a whole new top section.

Also, a slight turn when being viewed make a big difference with this tree. Notice there is a difference between how the apex swoops back toward the right in Pic 1 and 3 When I repot it, I will pot it with this turn. It just looks more balanced to me.

Any opinions or comments welcome.

Rob
 

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John Ruger

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That's really nice, great job! Do you find an Arborvitae any easier/harder than other evergreens?
 

october

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Thank you John...Actually,I am on the fence as far as how I feel about it... The foliage seems to be uncooperative at times.. When it grows, it is extremely thin and delicate. A very, almost paper thin scale foliage. Also, pruning can be tough. It does back bud, but seemingly not where you would want and not all the time. Also, even cutting the foliage back to the crease or junctions, does not seem to yield any new growth in that area. I basically only depend on getting growth from the areas where where it is already grwoing new foliage.. I guess I am basically treating it like a Hinoki or other cypress.

Rob
 

jk_lewis

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It doesn't really work for me. It looks tippy. There's too little movement in he trunk, and too much foliage on he top.

A bit of heavy wiring and a snip or wo could make it work, though. The basics are there.
 

october

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Hello jkl.. I do agree with you on on almost all of your points, the second half of the trunk could have more movement. However, the bottom half has just the right amount of movement for it to look natural and like a tree grwoing in the wild.. Any more movement in the lower 50% would ruin it's naturalistic appearance. With this tree, Iwant to kep it as subtle and natural as possible.

Also, yes, unfortunately, it is a bit heavy on top.. However, I am working with the options the tree is giving me.. The tree is stubborn and likes to grow from the ends. Which means that the silouhette is wider that I would like also,.. Depending on how it grows this season, will dictate if I cut it back yet again. I would like to get a smaller foliage area, but the tree will have to allow it.

Thank you for sharing your opinion...It is good that you saw, what I thought about the tree... Just verified that my assessments of the tree were probably correct... I assess my trees continuously, weeks after week, scrutinizing on what will make each one the best and most well balanced that each tree can be...

Rob
 

october

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ok....Here is a virt...2 branches cut off.. It does look moe proportional.. The sweeping movement is lost, However, it still looks good. A virt is easy though... I will take a look at the tree closely and see if the virt can be pulled off as good as it looks here... Pic 1 is with the branches cut and pic 2 is the side by side.

Rob
 

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october

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Well, took off both, well jinned anyway, the left and right anchoring branches and the back branch. Also, snipped a bit of apex.. I think it's better..Anyone agree?
 

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jk_lewis

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Well, took off both, well jinned anyway, the left and right anchoring branches and the back branch. Also, snipped a bit of apex.. I think it's better..Anyone agree?

I agree, but still a bit too much top, and I don't like pointy, dunce-cap bonsai. I'm no virtual wiz, but My suggestion is below. This trunk is still thin enough to wire movement in the upper part. The apex needs to bend to the right and down (red scraggly line done by shaky 73-year-old hands :) )
 

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october

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Well, the top part of the tree ended up dying., However, this opened up a great oportunity... A new apex was wired in place and the trunk was bent..I think this is the best this tree has ever looked.. Only took 4 years to bring it out...lol...

Hello jkl...Your suggestion did not go un-noticed and I thank you for it.... I did like your squiggly red line virt... I was just being cautious about too much work being done to the tree. However, since the top part died anyway, what harm could be done now.. I kind of based this new look on your virt and my own idea for the tree.. It has some aging to go..However, it has nice movement now and is simple.. Sometimes the Japanese just like simple aesthetics and I agree.. Sometimes, simple can actually speak to you the most.

Rob
 

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I think a way to overcome the "tippy" look would be to put it in a shallow rectangular pot. Say one about 1" deep with small cloud feet on it. The left to right dimension of the pot would allow you to plant 1/3 of the way in from the right and there be pot extending out under the longest left pointing branch.

The pot it is in is deep so I assume you have deeper roots to deal with. That could be accomodated by making a mound where it sits and tapering down to the edge of the pot in all directions.

I ain't no expert but that's what I'd do.
 

october

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Hello Mac In Oak Ridge.. I appreciate the reply. The thing is, this is a literati. A literati is never put in anything but a round pot...Literati, has few rules. However, this one is an absolute. Eventually, the tree may go in a more shallow round pot..

Rob
 

Vance Wood

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I like the tree and the pot. This is difficult material for the reasons you described so it will take a lot of looking after. I do have one opinion: If you keep fooling around with it at this point you will turn it into fire wood--it deserves a better fate than that. The important thing is that you like it, what anyone else thinks may be of academic importance but should not dictate you ruining a nice piece of material; so far well executed.
 

october

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Thank you Vance and I agree.. It was originally left the way it was for fear of over work. However, after the top died, I just wired up a new leader and bent the trunk a bit... It will now be left alone and I think this will be the final look for the tree.

I spent 4 years training this $8 yellow tag Fall special lowes tree.... I would hate to lose it at this point. Especially, now that it is starting to look like an actual literati, a simple one, but a nice one in training anyway..

Rob
 

Vance Wood

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Lieterati are supposed to be simple, that's the entire point (and difficulty) of the design.
 
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Hello Mac In Oak Ridge.. I appreciate the reply. The thing is, this is a literati. A literati is never put in anything but a round pot...Literati, has few rules. However, this one is an absolute. Eventually, the tree may go in a more shallow round pot..

Rob

Rob,
Not so absolute. I refer you to John Naka's first book, "Bonsai Techniques".

Starting on Page 247, Bunjin Techiques

See page 250, Fig. 488 - Square Pot
See Page 251, Fig. 491 - Free form Rectangle Pot
See Page 252, Fig. 494 - Square Pot
See Page 253, Fig. 497 - Rectangle pot much like what I described.

Then go to John Naka's, "Bonsai Techniques II"

See Page 29, Fig. 71-72 - Rectangle Pot
See Page 30, Small Figure at bottom of page - Rectangle Pot
See Page 216, Fig. 452 - Rectangle Pot
See Page 303, Fig. 665 - Free form Rectangle Pot described by Naka as "suitable for Bunjin style...."

And so on. Never say never. It is way far from absolute. A Bunjin style can go in quite a variety of pots. I'm sure if you take the time to look around you will see many more. It is not uncommon at all.

I will give that you may not like a Bunjin in a square or rectangle pot. However it is quite accepted to display that way if the tree fits the pot.
 

rockm

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Literati is certainly not limited only to round pots. There are no absolutes in any style.

There are no strict "round pot only" rules here:
http://bunjinjournal.com/2009/05/21/john-naka-on-bunjin-style.aspx

...As well as appropriate square, cascade, and rectangular shaped pots, bunjin are often displayed in egg shaped/crescent containers, egg shaped/crescent containers overturned, slabs and inverted slabs, hexagonal, octagonal and so on.


There are no absolutes in any style. If the pot fits...Round pots just happen to work better with literati/bunjin as they tend to be more subdued. It takes a little more work to get other shapes to match trees with such a particular, individualistic style.
 

october

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Hello everyone...I have had both John Nakas books for a while and have studied them both. From what I can recall, all his literati sketches, in book 1, were all in round like pots. I am not saying that it has to be completely round, some are a little lop sided, some are uneven, some are slab like, some are in round like rock pots.. However, almost all traditional litertai are put into a round like pot..and usually, it is a straight forward round like pot. I believe that it is ok to think outside the box. However, I have not really seen many literati that were not in a round like pot.

Here are some examples of what I believe to be perfect pots for these trees. I am not saying that you could not find pics of literati in other pots that would look good, nor am I trying to prove a point.. However, traditionally, it is round which is what I was going for, a simple traditional literati in training. Also, I would like to see some literati pics of trees in something other than a round like pot.. I would like to se something a little different. If someone has some pics, please post them inthis thread.

Rob
 

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Mojosan

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..."Also, I would like to see some literati pics of trees in something other than a round like pot.."

Mac already gave you some references above...
 

october

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rockm...When I said........ I would like to see some literati pics of trees in something other than a round like pot... I mean actual trees.... NOT diagrams or drawings. I would like to see finished or near finished bunjin in their pots. All of MAc's references were illustrations and drawings, not actual trees.

Also, it is usually the case that a roundish, shallow bonsai pot would work best with literati.. Can you use another pot (rhetorical)..of course you can. However, I do not believe an actual rectangular pot would ever really work...They are meant more for informal upright style.. You can use any pot you like or what you think works, you can put an informal upright in a cascade pot, if you think the tree can pull it off.

Hello Mac In Oak Ridge... I have read John Nakas books from cover to cover a couple of times over the last 2-3 years.. I did see all the examples you sited. However, there are a couple of things I would like to mention.. Almost all but maybe 2 illustrations out of both books have a bunjin in something other than a round shallow pot. The ones that are illustrated (note, illustrated) in something other than a round shallow, are in a block or compeltely square pot. There were no real finished, key word, finished literati in anything eles but a round pot.. I am refering to an actual tree picture here, not a drawing. Did you notice that all the photographs of finished bunjin, were in round shallow pots.... It almsot seemed like a couple of square pots were put in to break up the chain of round pot after round pot drawings.

Like I said to rockm..you can do what you like or what you think is best. My use of the word "absolute" in a prior reply was in reference to what I have seen in my 10 years of bonsai, my experience from visiting bonsai nurseries over the past 10 years, studying at them and recently doing some work for them...

If we are to get back to the original subject of this post...It was to post a rework of a simple literati that has finally achieved the look it will probably have for a very long time. In my opinion, this tree is the appropriate pot. Not everyone may agree..

Rob
 
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Rob,
I don't question your tree, your opinion of the tree, what kind of pot you want to put any tree you own in. I think you have a really nice tree there and would love to have it here.

I did question your instructing me that a Bunjin, "is never put in anything but a round pot" and also instructing me that this, "rule is absolute". Neither is the case and to post such on a public form is a disservice to those who may come here for guidance.

And may I point out that I first got involved in Bonsai around 1970, or 40 years ago. I may have seen a few trees in my experience also.
 

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