Japanese Black Pine

Si Nguyen

Omono
Messages
1,046
Reaction score
186
Location
Lake Forest, CA
I got this JBP from a friend who was dying from cancer. He had hundreds of bonsais, including some incredible California junipers and a perfect bald cypress and mostly excellent pre-bonsai material. This J. B. pine was really weak when I got it. After a year of feeding, it recovered quite well. When I heard the news of his death last month, I went out and started to work on this tree. I didn't do much but just look at it for a few hours, but the time allowed me to reflect on my friend's life. He was a good guy. What Harry said recently made me thought of this tree and my friend.

I changed the front on this tree and I wished I could have showed it to him. I had told him he had selected the wrong front before. Here are the before pictures:
 

Attachments

  • JBP old front.jpg
    JBP old front.jpg
    90 KB · Views: 180
  • JBP old back side.jpg
    JBP old back side.jpg
    84.2 KB · Views: 151
  • JBP right side view.jpg
    JBP right side view.jpg
    66.5 KB · Views: 141

Si Nguyen

Omono
Messages
1,046
Reaction score
186
Location
Lake Forest, CA
Here's the new front for this tree. I removed the main branch and a few smaller branches and shortened the rest. I did not get around to pulling needles. There is another option for a new front if I remove the darn rock. The tree is about 22 inches tall.
 

Attachments

  • JBP new font view.jpg
    JBP new font view.jpg
    72.8 KB · Views: 129

Bonsai Nut

Nuttier than your average Nut
Messages
9,722
Reaction score
18,648
Location
Charlotte area, North Carolina
USDA Zone
8a
I like what you did in terms of opening up the design, but I think you need to go a little farther. The tree is still too wrapped up with the stone. Additionally, I don't think you want your trunk line to rise straight up from the side of the stone - I think it will look better if it either leans out to the right like a windswept, or curves up to the left over the stone.

JBP-new-font-view.jpg
 

ghues

Omono
Messages
1,451
Reaction score
2,623
Location
Campbell River BC Canada
USDA Zone
7b
BN's observation was the same thing I noticed...the forces of the image and strong lines of the root take your eye on an angle from left to right then up. Perhaps if you follow BN's #2 line and then follow the top of the rock to the left and along the top of the rock (gap between the rock and main branch) it would be more in balance?
Cheers
G
 

Si Nguyen

Omono
Messages
1,046
Reaction score
186
Location
Lake Forest, CA
Hi Bnut, I see the same flow too, like line#1, but the mid and top part of the trunk line is too big to bend outward. I could reduce the tree to branch number 3 and redo the apex (and jin the top). Hmmm. Maybe I need to sketch that idea out!

I was thinking of just keeping it simple and fill in the top like this:
 

Attachments

  • bnut diagram.jpg
    bnut diagram.jpg
    89.3 KB · Views: 62
Last edited:

Si Nguyen

Omono
Messages
1,046
Reaction score
186
Location
Lake Forest, CA
.. Perhaps if you follow BN's #2 line and then follow the top of the rock to the left and along the top of the rock (gap between the rock and main branch) it would be more in balance?
Cheers
G

Hi Ghues, line #2 would be interesting but not really feasible, unless I chop it to that branch and start all over again. It would be more "balanced" yes, but that's the opposite of what we want for this type of design. The bonsai needs to "hang out" there a little to complete the image of a cliff-hanging tree. It needs to feel a bit precarious or unstable in order to have a certain tension.
Here's a thumbnail sketch of how I see it. Seeing it again today, I am seeing that it is a bit too full-looking though. Maybe it could be reduced a bit more.
Cheers,
 

Attachments

  • JBP thumbnail.jpg
    JBP thumbnail.jpg
    42.7 KB · Views: 70

grouper52

Masterpiece
Messages
2,377
Reaction score
3,622
Location
Port Orchard, WA
USDA Zone
8
Thanks for the nice backstory - it always brings a bit more depth to a tree.

The piece has an initial appeal that is quickly overshadowed by its problems. The tree does not fit the rock, neither in terms of the shape, size, color or texture of the rock, nor in terms of that particular species when it comes to things like the bark texture and color on the trunk and the roots, needle length (even when ultimately shortened to the max), and the general sense of "presence" a JBP can bring.

In the case of this particular composition, the specifics of this tree-rock matching also present problems. This rock is not particularly compelling or interesting. At least for the Chinese, the importance of the rock - the more stable and eternal element - far outweighs the importance of the tree, which often merely frames and compliments it. A JBP is such a commanding presence that it will overly dominate all but the most impressive of stones. This stone is plain and puny for such a tree.

The way the roots are placed around the rock here is also awkward looking, and they also do not look convincing in terms of telling a believable story about the origins of the tree.

Personally, I wouldn't see much sense in getting rid of the rock though - this tree would look even stranger without it.

What you might consider is the complete opposite of where you are heading with this tree, and unfortunately it looks like you may have already limited your options along these lines with your pruning. Hopefully not, but even if you have, you may still be able to correct that, although it will take a longer time span.

I would forget about all that foliage up high. Maybe leave it there for the time being, though, so the tree doesn't just die on you, but direct its energy downwards through balancing techniques. When/if you do remove it, do so in such a way that you will have jins there.

I would focus entirely on lower foliage (although what's left of it now doesn't offer much short-term hope), and have at least some of it sweep back along the rock over time to at least partially obscure those unsightly roots and that plain looking rock - so that what we do see pokes out mysteriously and allows the imagination to substitute something more attractive behind it. Selective pruning and early wiring of contortions into the young growth will also add eventual interest.

Once the vigor of the lower growth is established, start removing all that dominant stuff at the top, and then jin some deadwood elements up there coming up along and perhaps slightly over the top of the rock. That would be my general idea.

Hope that helps.
 

Bonsai Nut

Nuttier than your average Nut
Messages
9,722
Reaction score
18,648
Location
Charlotte area, North Carolina
USDA Zone
8a
Tilt the rock and sink it? You've still got nice movement and the roots feel much more natural to me. (BTW I think you need a deeper pot regardless)

JBP-new-font-view2.jpg
 

Klytus

Omono
Messages
1,305
Reaction score
22
Location
Singing Pines Tyneside-England
USDA Zone
8a
I liked the third image as it was suggestive of something as yet undefined,too late now.

The rock looks too bare now and the roots look unlikely and the pot is too oval and it's shoes too troubling

Can the rock be jiggled a bit or is it firmly grasped?

I felt like adding a question,if lopping of it's roots is the way to go then why not try splitting the root for a more knackered appearance?
 
Last edited:

grouper52

Masterpiece
Messages
2,377
Reaction score
3,622
Location
Port Orchard, WA
USDA Zone
8
BNut - nice virt, and great suggestion. At the very least, such things need to be done. I agree as well with the whole different-and-deeper pot idea, and would probably put it in a grow box for a few years to speed up the significant changes I think it needs.
 

Si Nguyen

Omono
Messages
1,046
Reaction score
186
Location
Lake Forest, CA
I liked the third image as it was suggestive of something as yet undefined,too late now.

The rock looks too bare now and the roots look unlikely and the pot is too oval and it's shoes too troubling

Can the rock be jiggled a bit or is it firmly grasped?

I felt like adding a question,if lopping of it's roots is the way to go then why not try splitting the root for a more knackered appearance?

Hi Klytus, the third image is actually not bad! This is what I was alluding to when I said there is another possible front once the rock is removed. When I first saw this tree I thought I would throw out the rock. Without the rock, and after removing one or two of the roots, and leaning the tree, it would make for a decent exposed-root style (neagari) bonsai. This is what I had in mind to do in the beginning. But the rock is stuck very firmly, and I have come to accept it as it is. This is an old imported tree from Korea. It is older than me for sure. I just don't feel the need to start over again with this one. The pot will go for sure though. I am thinking of a low flat tray, or even a nice green-glazed bunjin style pot. Something unconventional. Unconventional all the way baby!

Hi Grouper and BNut, thanks for the comments and virts. I know the rock and the root clasping don't look too realistic. It is quirky! But it's not so bad in real life. The low first branch had to go for sure. This tree needs to move up visually. To me, it needs more height in order to offset the weight of the rock. I thought about jinning the top half of the tree and using only the bottom branches to make a cascade style, but no. The rock is starting to grow on me.
BNut, the slanting rock is no good. It has a lot of vertical streaks and cracks that look better as vertical lines. You will see this tree later next month. Maybe we can do some more sketches on it later.

Cheers,
Si
 

Klytus

Omono
Messages
1,305
Reaction score
22
Location
Singing Pines Tyneside-England
USDA Zone
8a
I looked at it again this morning and saw another feature,the little stub diverted my eye too much yesterday.


How did it come to be growing out of the mountainside like that?

There was a rockfall.
 
Last edited:

Si Nguyen

Omono
Messages
1,046
Reaction score
186
Location
Lake Forest, CA
Hi Klytus, I think you are starting to get it now! It is not unusual to see such exposed roots from trees hanging off the cliff side like that. The rocks slide, and the soil gets washed away from the base of the tree. It is in fact more realistic to have some exposed roots when doing cascade style. This is unconventional I know. Here are some pictures I got from Google this morning.
 

Attachments

  • A tree hanging on.jpg
    A tree hanging on.jpg
    55.2 KB · Views: 52
  • tree hanging on to shoreline.jpg
    tree hanging on to shoreline.jpg
    95.2 KB · Views: 52
  • Old Veteran at Point Lobos.jpg
    Old Veteran at Point Lobos.jpg
    102.2 KB · Views: 59

rockm

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
9,683
Reaction score
12,456
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
Si

this is a nice tree. Its major issue (although it's not that big) is the rock. The rock doesn't "match" the roots in direction, texture or character.

All are important in rock plantings.

The roots cut directly across the grain of the rock (which has apparently been channelized to accept the roots). The roots themselves are grey and knobbed with flaky bark. The rock is brown and striated and mostly smooth and lacks the character of the tree's roots--the problem is usually the reverse...

Those things conflict to some degree--exactly how much they conflict is up to individual perception.

I don't know if this conflict can really be "corrected" in this planting, as the roots look pretty tight and the tree was probably planted on the rock a very very long time ago.

If it were mine, I'd just enjoy it as is and not really worry about "convention."

BTW, neagari is long outdated and overrated (IMO)...
 

Attila Soos

Omono
Messages
1,804
Reaction score
35
Location
Los Angeles (Altadena), CA
USDA Zone
9
Terrible match between rock and tree.
I would get rid of the rock, get 3 or 4 young black pines and approach-graft them to those roots, to create a more balanced exposed root mass.
 

mcpesq817

Omono
Messages
1,810
Reaction score
479
Location
VA
USDA Zone
7
Take a look at the cover of Bonsai Today #23 (I think that's the issue). There's a similar pine clinging to a rock in that cover which instantly brought to mind your tree.
 

Si Nguyen

Omono
Messages
1,046
Reaction score
186
Location
Lake Forest, CA
Hi Mcpesq, thanks for the tip! I do have that Bonsai Today issue. That is a good issue too, Kimura was seen digging up a field-grown quince!
Maybe I could reduce the rock like in that picture. I haven't thought of that possibility!
Cheers,
Si
 

Attachments

  • BonsaiToday23.jpg
    BonsaiToday23.jpg
    39.6 KB · Views: 35

mcpesq817

Omono
Messages
1,810
Reaction score
479
Location
VA
USDA Zone
7
Yep, that's the one I was thinking about :)

I'm a big fan of JBPs - yours is certainly unique, and not the big green gumdrop design you typically see. Will be looking forward to seeing its progress :D
 

Similar threads

Top Bottom