Is this the final stage?

Fidur

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This is my first bonsai: PHOTOS.
It was gifted to me 10 months ago (and triggered my actual bonsai fever). I know it must be at least 15-20 years old (likely more). I have been learning to keep it alive first (only a little whitefly attack I could sofocate), and then I made some wirings to correct some problems. The tree is very healthy, and looking at the soil (akadama-lava mix) y seems I could avoid repotting for at least a couple of years.
So, my problem is, now that the tree seems to acomplish the style the grower decided, and there are no new design tasks, what am I supossed to do? , just care for it with no targets?.
I would like to make it a bit more interesting. To find a way to improve the design.... even if that must be a delay in time.
Any thoughts?
 

Fidur

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I will explain this a bit more.
Eight years ago, a job-mate( and a friend) was to retire and I was commanded by coworkers to buy him a gift. He liked flowers and plants, so I bought him this bonsai. So I choosed it, because the grower told me it was an indoor bonsai, and then the tree looked to me exactly like today. He didn't (couldn't) keep it in his flat, so finally gifted it back to me. That's why I assume the age must be at least 20 years.
The primary branches are not bendable (not without special techinques). So, little can I do in changing the branch style.
I could try to grow it over a rock, but the tree is quite tall as it is and I think it would be too much.
Any thoughts?
 

Forsoothe!

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You might consider a clip & grow path to adjusting the clouds to be less topiary and more bonsai in form...
E 1.JPG
And beyond that filing in the empty spaces, also to look more bonsai and less topiary...
e 3.JPG
 

RKatzin

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I do agree. There is inconsistency that I find very distracting. In the overall view there is much negative space where you can see through the tree, but in the individual parts there is no see through spaces and this keeps them as separate entities and not part of a cohesive whole.
Opening some spaces within each piece will join them with the open spaces of the whole tree and greatly increase your organic flow through and create a much more pleasant appearance.
 

RKatzin

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Once again I realize I didn't answer the question asked, LoL. No, the funs just begun!
 

Potawatomi13

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Anyone notice nice movement lower trunk but boring straight higher up🤨? Could anything be more "distracting"?
 

RKatzin

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Anyone notice nice movement lower trunk but boring straight higher up🤨? Could anything be more "distracting"?
I don't think so. I think the trunkline would be acceptable with some work on the branches, especially where the foliage is backed up against the trunk and hiding movement. Bringing out some wood and twigs in the branches will take attention away from the exposed trunk by creating lateral movement within the branches. Just my thoughts, but I'm curious what you would suggest.
 

Forsoothe!

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The standard procedure is to expose that which is positive and hide that which is negative in any feature, especially trunks which are not changeable.
 

Shibui

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A bonsai is only finished when it has no leaves for a year or more. There is always something to do to change and improve our trees. Just because a bonsai has looked like that for 20 years does not mean it has to stay that way for ever. As trees grow thicker or larger the previous style may no longer be appropriate. New owners will see a tree differently and may choose to change the shape or style a little or a lot. Check some of the restyles the Japanese masters do, even on really old and famous national treasure bonsai.
I agree with @Potawatomi13 To me there is jarring inconsistency between the strong curves of the lower trunk an the strongly vertical upper section, lack of taper and overall tall and skinny feel. I would be considering reducing height significantly, probably just above a branch on the left just above mid height. That's a big decision for a tree with some age and development so needs to be considered carefully before acting. In this case the top may be worth spending the time and effort to layer as there is probably a well developed small tree possible up there.
 

RKatzin

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Okay, my bad. I got the impression that the op was sentimental about the tree and just wanted to make it look better without negating the original style and I'm thinking along those lines.
 

Shibui

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Okay, my bad. I got the impression that the op was sentimental about the tree and just wanted to make it look better without negating the original style and I'm thinking along those lines.
I don't think your opinion is a mistake. Many growers absolutely refuse to change a style for sentimental reasons. That's their right and may still be the case here. There are also many opinions on what constitutes good bonsai design (but obviously only my opinion is the correct one!)
All we can do is offer opinions and options for the owners to consider. What they finally do is totally up to them.
 

Fidur

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Okay, my bad. I got the impression that the op was sentimental about the tree and just wanted to make it look better without negating the original style and I'm thinking along those lines.

Ohh, sorry if you thought I was sentimental about it.
In fact I've decided to make a big change in it, maybe even chop it and regrow. But it will happen when I'm certain about what to do.
 

Forsoothe!

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Ohh, sorry if you thought I was sentimental about it.
In fact I've decided to make a big change in it, maybe even chop it and regrow. But it will happen when I'm certain about what to do.
Without getting into the long-winded history of my philosophy, I have learned that there is a correlation with ambivalence and not having a whole understanding of all the variables. When I find myself uncomfortable with, "the next step", I put the "next step" on the proverbial shelf and don't force myself into "doing" something. Some time down the line after I have thought about it, and not thought about it, slept on it, ignored it, ad infinitum, something clicks in my brain and all the ducks line up in a row and I take it down from the shelf and do the next step. Almost always, what I finally do is materially different from what I originally thought about. Almost always, it's because there was some detail that was important, but that I had not considered. Some piece of information was missing from my list of variables, I didn't know what it was, but I knew that something was wrong with my list of variables and that's what made me uncomfortable.

I put projects aside from time to time, without apology, because I have learned that when I'm uncomfortable my brain knows I'm missing something. I have done a lot of things that I have never done before. When you do something for the first time you always need to learn the details. There are always parts that you didn't think about until you get to where you have to do that part. That old saw, "Nothing is ever as easy as it first appears" is absolutely true. Take your time.
 

Forsoothe!

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In my business we used to love to say, "Never enough time to do the job right, but always enough time to do it over." It figured heavily into the origin of my "put it on the proverbial shelf" when ambivalent.
 

Fidur

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Without getting into the long-winded history of my philosophy, I have learned that there is a correlation with ambivalence and not having a whole understanding of all the variables. When I find myself uncomfortable with, "the next step", I put the "next step" on the proverbial shelf and don't force myself into "doing" something. Some time down the line after I have thought about it, and not thought about it, slept on it, ignored it, ad infinitum, something clicks in my brain and all the ducks line up in a row and I take it down from the shelf and do the next step. Almost always, what I finally do is materially different from what I originally thought about. Almost always, it's because there was some detail that was important, but that I had not considered. Some piece of information was missing from my list of variables, I didn't know what it was, but I knew that something was wrong with my list of variables and that's what made me uncomfortable.

I put projects aside from time to time, without apology, because I have learned that when I'm uncomfortable my brain knows I'm missing something. I have done a lot of things that I have never done before. When you do something for the first time you always need to learn the details. There are always parts that you didn't think about until you get to where you have to do that part. That old saw, "Nothing is ever as easy as it first appears" is absolutely true. Take your time.
I think you're completly right.
It usually happens to me that while I'm walking among my trees, I look at a tree and "discover" what it needs (in terms of design), but it takes some time to me to take action, while I think about all the variables. Then some day unexpectdly, my brain says "do it now". So , sometimes (even at midnight as my garden and bonsai corner have solar lights) I act (prunning , pinching, wiring or chopping an entire branch). I don´t even know why such a rush, but I usually obey this commands.
I know it's nonsense, but these are usually my best decisions. I think my brain knows what to do and when to do before I am aware of it.
 

Fidur

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I've been thinking about a plan to improve(?) this tree design.
I agree the half top of the tree is very straight, and also to me the tree is too tall.
So, I can first defoliate the top cloud, that as you can see in the pic, is quite branched:

IMG_20210817_113309.jpg

Then, I can take a look and see if there is a good structure to make a jin. Something like this more or less:

DSC_8336 (3)_LI.jpg

Sure, if there is no aesthetically good structure, I know I will get that foliage back, reverting to the actual state in one season.
Even more, I may go further and eliminate some more top clouds to get something like this (maybe a bit drastic(?)):

DSC_8335_LI (4).jpg DSC_8335_LI (5).jpgDSC_8336 (7)_LI.jpg

So, what do you think about such a plan?
 

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Leo in N E Illinois

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@Fidur

This tree as is, is a classic Penjing style, cloud shaped foliage pads, the trunk being the "dragon ascending". There is nothing "wrong" with this style. Its not bonsai, its Penjing.

Rather than destroy a reasonably good Penjing, why not sell it to someone who appreciates Penjing?

It will take many years and a great deal of work to make this a decent Japanese or European style bonsai. Much easier to move it on as it is, to a Penjing lover.
 

Forsoothe!

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I think your new designs accentuate the straight section. The die is cast as that trunk having them clouds. The clouds can be altered heavier or smaller to suit your tastes, but they're there and they are the tree. Once again, shop for what you want as opposed to radically changing something.
 

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