Learning from a Waste of Time.

Messages
2,776
Reaction score
15
Location
Michigan, USA
USDA Zone
5
Learning from a Waste of Time.



Awhile back I was given a tree by an owner of a local bonsai shop and challenged to do something with it. It was a three branched wonder right from the get go, the only real thing I could think of doing with it at the time was to use it for firewood. But a gift is a gift and a challenge is a challenge, so I did what any aspiring bonsaist would do, I sat it on the back bench and promptly forgot about it.

Some time went by and I dug it out, chopped off two of the three branches that had died, pruned the hell out of the remaining branch, hoping for some back-budding, which never came. I looked at the tree again....the nebari wasn’t bad, one high root that would have to be covered, removed, or camouflaged, but other than that it had a nice spread that would have been decent on any other tree. The jins from the lost branches were at differing angles and impossible to fix now. The trunk stopped tapering about half way up the tree, and the single living branch was too small to really do much with.





Yet, this time I seen something in it, not a great bonsai, but an idea, maybe I could make something at least presentable out of it....even if not, I just had to explore the thoughts I had.

That same week I displayed a few bonsai at a local church for Good Friday and on a whim, I took along this tree just to see it in a different environment. The uninitiated viewers at the church commented more on this tree than any others there, this surprised me because the tree was obviously raw, unbalanced, and unrefined, but the uneducated loved it and many said how they could meditate on this tree for hours.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t just my imagination?

I posted the pictures of the church display on-line after the display at the church, where, as fully expected, this tree was rudely jumped all over it like it was the last marshmallow at a weight watchers campfire by a couple people. Most reviews were unfavorable, but the majority were less personal, such as Harry Greer’s comment, “I gotta tell you the truth man, that third tree on the right is never going to make it, ever.” http://bonsainut.com/forums/showpost.php?p=23561&postcount=34 Even some of my friends asked me if I was joking, I wasn’t, I w as fishing. (And they were biting.)

Never one to be overly concerned with public opinion, or one to be easily discouraged, I sat the tree back on the back bench and fed the hell out of it, hoping for some back-budding, none came. However, the single branch elongated, ramified, and thickened slightly.

During this time, I was researching an article and was verifying some information in John Naka’s books when I ran across some interesting images that made me remember the “something” I had seen in this tree. Now inspired, I trimmed it, wired it, and let it be until yesterday. Now with only a guy wire on it, the possibilities I once saw are beginning to show.



Image from “Bonsai Techniques I” by John Naka
Page 129




Image from “Bonsai Techniques I” by John Naka
Page 130




Image from “Bonsai Techniques II” by John Naka
Page 216




Updated pictures to follow......

what would you have done?

Save the toss it in the trash or put it in the ground comments, no cop outs here, what would you do if challenged to make something out of this tree, as you see it?)

.
.
.
 
Last edited:

ghues

Omono
Messages
1,327
Reaction score
2,168
Location
Campbell River BC Canada
USDA Zone
7b
Will,
That tree will be a challenge but with time........
I'm not sure that with that type of foliage it may never give you perfect results, however it might be transformed into a tree with a more realistic look about it.
John Naka’s drawings/examples remind me of the trees I took photos of yesterday(2 yellow Cedars= distant and close up).
Cheers Gman
 

Attachments

DaveV

Shohin
Messages
408
Reaction score
54
Location
Nebraska
USDA Zone
5a
Will, I like the first drawing of John Naka's. Who knows, this may be your favorite tree someday! Some of my favorite trees are the ones that I brought back from certain death or have a story to tell - not always the most beautiful ones.

DaveV.
 

Vance Wood

Lord Mugo
Messages
13,600
Reaction score
15,704
Location
Michigan
USDA Zone
5-6
I think the tree is worth doing for two reasons. One; it was a gift from someone Two; so many people made such a big deal out of it, it deserves resolution. The idea for the tree's future is viable and worth doing. It is not like there is no visible solution. The issue of time is purly Will's concern and his to pay, be it three or twenty years.
 

greerhw

Omono
Messages
1,978
Reaction score
10
Have you wired it yet......:rolleyes:

keep it green,
Harry
 

Bill S

Masterpiece
Messages
2,494
Reaction score
19
Location
Western Massachusetts
USDA Zone
5a
I think the tree is worth doing for two reasons. One; it was a gift from someone Two; so many people made such a big deal out of it, it deserves resolution. The idea for the tree's future is viable and worth doing. It is not like there is no visible solution. The issue of time is purly Will's concern and his to pay, be it three or twenty years.
Spot on Vance. Will my answer is the same thing you did. I don't have enough trees that would make me throw it away because I'm too busy. At Worst call it a practice tree. At you age time is on your side.
 

irene_b

Omono
Messages
1,415
Reaction score
2
Learning from a Waste of Time...

To me if you are learning then it is not a waste of time.
Irene
 
Messages
2,776
Reaction score
15
Location
Michigan, USA
USDA Zone
5
Thanks for the words, all.

Anyone have an idea, a direction, a path they would go with, using the material as shown?




Will
 

HotAction

Chumono
Messages
673
Reaction score
4
Location
Syracuse, NY
USDA Zone
5
If you say 2 of the three branches died, I wonder about the tree's health. If it is growing well and your not worried about it, lets look at the options. You are going to have to work with that one branch, or hope for the backbudding that you say hasn't come yet. So, spend 2 years letting it grow, pinching what you feel is necessary, and then reevaluate. Consulting those Naka drawings at that time will prove much more effective. Wait till you have more options and listen to the tree. I kinda like it as it reminds me of the many trees I see in the local swamps that are just holding on. Unfortunately, most of those swamp monsters lose the fight.

-Dave

p.s. for now I would pinch that downward growing foliage.:D
 

Smoke

Ignore-Amus
Messages
11,563
Reaction score
19,735
Location
Fresno, CA
USDA Zone
9
Learning from a Waste of Time.




Updated pictures to follow......

Save the toss it in the trash or put it in the ground comments, no cop outs here, what would you do if challenged to make something out of this tree, as you see it ?).


I see a perfect windswept tree here.

Ok sorry about that. I think posting this without the updated picture is kind of stupid. If there is more to work with why not post a better picture so someone can give better advice.

Is the tree better shown from the other side? From this view it looks as if the tree is dead because there is no living tissue shown and the foliage looks out of place on a dead trunk. There has to be a live vein somewhere why not show us that even if it's a side shot.

While those examples in Naka's book look promising they are mostly made with much more branching than you have here. Those made with only one living branch and either a verticle element or a down sweeping element are made from a very long branch with tertairy branching simulating foliage divisions.

To achieve this the best advice would be what you don't want to hear yet would be the only coarse of action......

PUT IT IN THE GROUND!
 
Last edited:
Messages
2,776
Reaction score
15
Location
Michigan, USA
USDA Zone
5
Al "Smoke" Keppler,

Considering you were the worst critic of this tree when it was posted as part of a larger display at a church, as mentioned in my first post here, I fully expected you to come out of your self imposed exile to comment, I am glad you did not disappoint me.

So in response....


I see a perfect windswept tree here.
I'm sorry, I just don't see this, maybe you can elaborate on your belief that this is a perfect windswept?

I Played with the windswept idea before, but gave up on it due to the options offered by the material. While the tree will obviously show signs of wind and other environmental damage, I feel windswept is not what the tree wants to say. I lean more toward the straight trunk bunjing or literati style.

I think posting this without the updated picture is kind of stupid.
Good thing I don't consult with you on what I post then, huh? Hey Al, by all means, if you think this is stupid, ignore it, I promise my heart won't be broke.

The reason I posted this without the updated picture is to see what others would do with the same material, not to get critiques on the update, yet.

If there is more to work with why not post a better picture so someone can give better advice.
More to work with? There is one branch Al, what more can I possibly show? Besides, you seen a few pictures of this tree before, you have stated your opinion on it before, what exactly can you add now that you haven't before?

While those examples in Naka's book look promising they are mostly made with much more branching than you have here. Those made with only one living branch and either a verticle element or a down sweeping element are made from a very long branch with tertairy branching simulating foliage divisions.
Al, the trees I showed from Naka are shown because they have exactly one branch coming off of the trunk, the same as the tree I have shown, the only difference is length and ramification, which can easily be added to my tree. Feel free to use this fact in any constructive suggestions you may have.

PUT IT IN THE GROUND!
Al, anybody could take this cop out, it requires no thought, no creativity, and no talent. This is why I asked that the easy solutions such as tossing it or planting it in the ground be left out of this discussion. This is a problem that requires you to solve it, not a nurseryman, not a another artist, these kinds of problems are often faced by those who actually create bonsai.

This tree may never amount to a hill of beans, but the skill level gained by solving problems such as this one can only be gained by actually doing it.

So what is it going to be Al? Can you find a viable solution or is giving up your solution?




Will
 
Last edited:

irene_b

Omono
Messages
1,415
Reaction score
2
Excuse the bad virt.
Tilted to the right with the foilage worked to embrace the tree.
Just a thought.
Irene
 

Attachments

Smoke

Ignore-Amus
Messages
11,563
Reaction score
19,735
Location
Fresno, CA
USDA Zone
9
Because you said "updated pictures to follow".

If there are updated pictures when will the be shared?

When this tree has an acceptable amount of foliage to even eek out anything remotely possible to looking like bonsai I will give you a very highly qualified reply. Untill then this tree is unacceptable as bonsai material.

Since when is putting material in the ground a cop out. The material I have around my house would be a cop out since I have material worth putting some effort in. This material needs a year or two in the ground just to get healthy, leave alone bonsai techniques on it.

I am sure you will make something acceptable from it.

Good luck, al
 

davetree

Omono
Messages
1,527
Reaction score
684
Location
St. Paul Minnesota
USDA Zone
4
I wouldn't do anything with it except grow it out first. Can we see some pictures, or did you style it from this point ?
 
Messages
2,776
Reaction score
15
Location
Michigan, USA
USDA Zone
5
When this tree has an acceptable amount of foliage to even eek out anything remotely possible to looking like bonsai I will give you a very highly qualified reply.
I'm curious, who did you have in mind for this "highly qualified" reply? Kimura, Pall, Stevens, ???


Untill then this tree is unacceptable as bonsai material.
Thank you for your opinion. It is the same one I share, but AGAIN, the point is that it is a challenge, the point is to tell us what you would do with this piece of material as is, BESIDES the obvious cop out of tossing it or putting it in the ground. You seem incapable, unable, or unwilling to understand this.

Come on Al, think outside of the paint by number, ready to detail, instant bonsai mentality.


Everyone else, thanks for playing along and giving suggestions, Irene, nice virt, thank you!



Will
 
Last edited:

Smoke

Ignore-Amus
Messages
11,563
Reaction score
19,735
Location
Fresno, CA
USDA Zone
9
Ok I thought you wanted real advice not spit balling and blue sky pie in the eye crap. Ok

Fo me, I could achieve something like this in 5 years with that. Of course to achieve this I would need to put it in the ground to get from "A" to "B"onsai.

Is that more clear and consise for you?

Photo courtesy Vaughn Banting
 

Attachments

Smoke

Ignore-Amus
Messages
11,563
Reaction score
19,735
Location
Fresno, CA
USDA Zone
9
I'm curious, who did you have in mind for this "highly qualified" reply? Kimura, Pall, Stevens, ???

Will
BTW...at your level I am more than highly qualified....heck even Vance is highly qualified.

give me a break....
 
Top Bottom