Oval or rectangle? Cypress Forest

G3ON5IA_GUY

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I'm going to be creating a bald cypress forest in the spring most likely a natural swamp setting. I'm probably going to create an area to hold water to add to the natural look of the landscape. I've already prepared the larger trees over the past year and collected most the smaller tree's I need for it. The trees are varying sizes from 3" down to 1/2". The largest 3" tree will most likely be the focus tree and will be in the flat-top style. The idea is to have this one growing out above a younger forest. I mostly know how to pick a pot for a single tree but I'm not sure in this situation, I was originally leaning towards a rectangle for this particular idea but now I'm having mixed ideas. So I'm not sure if I should use an oval or a rectangle? Give me your expertise and opinions.

Thanks
 

johng

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Oval without question for me. Personally, I don't like a forest in a rectangle in most cases. Typically, I use rectangles for tray landscapes in which stones are included. Of course its all just personal preference.

Here is a couple of pics of a forest I created last summer. All the trees will be developed with a flat-top feeling. I am still not completely comfortable with the placement of the smallest tree.


and for scale - I think its about 65" tall.

John

John
 

G3ON5IA_GUY

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Very nice, thanks for the pictures. Yeah, I mostly see forest in ovals but for some reason I keep thinking this particular idea will look good in a rectangle. Not sure why, maybe I'm over thinking it. The picture definitely helps though.

The base on the largest tree looks amazing. Where did you find that one?
 

G3ON5IA_GUY

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Ok, I just watched a few of your videos and you have some nice cypress. Those things are big and have real nice buttresses! I know a buddy of mine would freak if he could find something like that to collect here. We have been looking to collect some large bald cypress but haven't came up lucky yet.
 
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Vance Wood

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Oval without question for me. Personally, I don't like a forest in a rectangle in most cases. Typically, I use rectangles for tray landscapes in which stones are included. Of course its all just personal preference.

Here is a couple of pics of a forest I created last summer. All the trees will be developed with a flat-top feeling. I am still not completely comfortable with the placement of the smallest tree.


and for scale - I think its about 65" tall.

John

John

There are those who would argue your use of four trees. What are your thoughts on this matter? Traditonally even numbers are frowned upon and, in the Japanese tradition, four is all but forbidden.
 

G3ON5IA_GUY

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I was thinking about that as well. But for some reason it doesn't bother me to much, maybe because of the drastic size difference in the trees? I think, if it was mine, I would consider putting a smaller tree in front of the two on the right.
 

milehigh_7

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There are those who would argue your use of four trees. What are your thoughts on this matter? Traditonally even numbers are frowned upon and, in the Japanese tradition, four is all but forbidden.

I am anxious to hear the reply on this. The even number leaves me felling a bit uncomfortable when I look at it. Here is one option.

1) Move the largest tree forward just a hair so that the closest root starts on the red dot.
2) Move the largest tree on the right to where the green dot is and place a 5th tree about the size of the smallest one in its place.

That is an ignorant opinion so take it with a grain of salt.
 

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johng

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I feel like we are getting off topic here but..

ok Vance, how about 3 and 1...still 4 but no longer 2 and 2...does that still break your rules?




Personally I could careless about the 4 tree thing...I am not Japanese or a xenophile so the death connotation has no relevance. Admittedly it is more difficult to arrange 4 trees in a pleasing fashion but as long as the group works for me I am not to worried about how many trees are used. Something is going to change with this planting, I am just not sure what it will be yet. I would like to continue to use the smallest tree for perspective but its best location needs to be determined.

Perhaps if this pot was a rectangle there would be more room to arrange the trees...nah I will stick with the oval...I just wish it was 2" shallower.

John
 

G3ON5IA_GUY

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I feel like we are getting off topic here but..

ok Vance, how about 3 and 1...still 4 but no longer 2 and 2...does that still break your rules?

Personally I could careless about the 4 tree thing...I am not Japanese or a xenophile so the death connotation has no relevance. Admittedly it is more difficult to arrange 4 trees in a pleasing fashion but as long as the group works for me I am not to worried about how many trees are used. Something is going to change with this planting, I am just not sure what it will be yet. I would like to continue to use the smallest tree for perspective but its best location needs to be determined.

Perhaps if this pot was a rectangle there would be more room to arrange the trees...nah I will stick with the oval...I just wish it was 2" shallower.

John

No big deal if it's off topic, still a good discussion. I do agree the 3 and 1 does seem to work. Maybe because the main tree is so large and it offsets the arrangement by having odd numbers on both sides? Yes it may be harder to arrange properly and still look good, but if you can make it look good with 4 trees then you've done a good job.

Anyways , I may be going with an oval but I would still like others opinions...There is still an image of the forest in a rectangle pot lurking in the back of my mind...
 

Vance Wood

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I feel like we are getting off topic here but..

ok Vance, how about 3 and 1...still 4 but no longer 2 and 2...does that still break your rules?




Personally I could careless about the 4 tree thing...I am not Japanese or a xenophile so the death connotation has no relevance. Admittedly it is more difficult to arrange 4 trees in a pleasing fashion but as long as the group works for me I am not to worried about how many trees are used. Something is going to change with this planting, I am just not sure what it will be yet. I would like to continue to use the smallest tree for perspective but its best location needs to be determined.

Perhaps if this pot was a rectangle there would be more room to arrange the trees...nah I will stick with the oval...I just wish it was 2" shallower.

John

I did not mean to tweek you in the nose, I just asked a simple question; I got my answer.
 

johng

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I did not mean to tweek you in the nose, I just asked a simple question; I got my answer.


You are WAY TOO sensitive Vance...get some skin buddy nothing in that was intended they way you took it.
 

Smoke

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Yea I didn't get that either Vance. I think John was just stating his opinion on the matter. Of course bringing up the issue of odd numbers in forests is one way to get the forums buzzing. I'm with John, if it looks good who cares about some stupid rule.

Of course if it don't work, the odd/even thing is always the culprit right?

To tell you the truth, when I first saw the tray of cypress of Johns, I never even gave the number of trees a thought....untill Vance brought it up. It's just not something I have to do when I see a forest. (count the trees)

John, The pot does you no Justice!
 

Vance Wood

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Yea I didn't get that either Vance. I think John was just stating his opinion on the matter. Of course bringing up the issue of odd numbers in forests is one way to get the forums buzzing. I'm with John, if it looks good who cares about some stupid rule.

Of course if it don't work, the odd/even thing is always the culprit right?

To tell you the truth, when I first saw the tray of cypress of Johns, I never even gave the number of trees a thought....untill Vance brought it up. It's just not something I have to do when I see a forest. (count the trees)

John, The pot does you no Justice!

I just asked a question, that's all. I certainly did not intend to start a fire storm. I was curious why this was done, not critical of it other than the obvious artistic/traditional ban on even numbers and specifically the number four. If this was done for a specific reason I wanted to hear it. If it was done just because the artist wanted to do it that way that was fine too. If anyone took it to mean anything else it is they who are tilting and windmills not I.

As to why the planting works or does not work was not even a subject I addressed, in fact I made no critique of the planting at all. As to counting trees? There are numbers most people recognize from sight without having to count one, little two, little three, little trees, four little, five little, six little trees etc. We can recognize up to five trees without taking an inventory.
 
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milehigh_7

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I guess I am the weird one. (like that needed to be said) I just don't like even numbers ever.
 

Vance Wood

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I guess I am the weird one. (like that needed to be said) I just don't like even numbers ever.

Artistically even numbers don't usually work. Because; for the most part nature is asymmetrical the use of this kind of symmetry leaves an unsettled feeling in the viewer. If we default to how bonsai has been taught over the last sixty years there are two things taught consistently: Avoid even numbers in groupings less than nine. Any thing more than nine for most eyes becomes "many" and the odd even aspect becomes a non issue requiring an anal attitude and a click counter to search for violations. Avoid the number four specifically; the number four in the Japanese culture is considered unlucky.

In today's attitudes toward bonsai and the dreaded rules is: You can do pretty much what you want in any way that floats your boat regardless of what someone else, or man made rules, may say about it. There is a caveat; over time as one grows and discovers that their bonsai don't seem to work artistically it is usually helpful to examine the rules, hereto ignored, and see if the problems with a tree or grouping just might be in a violation of said rules. It is surprising how often this helps out.
 

G3ON5IA_GUY

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So I'm confused... Is that an oval or a rectangle...? :rolleyes: Ok oval it is. Hahahaha :p
 

DaveV

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When I first looked at this cypress planting my initial impression was there is a midline and a right and left side. Maybe thats because I'm a dentist, but regardless there is clearly a right and left side that my eye automatically picks out. In my opinion, when you are working with small numbers, ie four trees, the rule applies. As Vance stated, "even numbers are frowned upon" in forest or grove plantings. This is because your brain/eye can see patterns when there are fewer trees to observe. When the numbers get larger your brain has a harder time picking out a pattern - I'm sure you all know this and needs no further explanation.
I would like to see the large tree moved forward and a tad to the center, and a fith tree in front of the two on the right so that the outline when looked at from above forms a triangle.

Its funny, we humans are picky. We draw midlines and find symmetry pleasing when looking at peoples faces and bodies. But, when it comes to nature and landscapes our brain like randomness or lack of symmetry. At least this is true form most people.


DaveV.
 
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jk_lewis

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I'm agreeing with Dave, here. My first thought when I saw the grouping was that "these trees don't like one another. One group over here, another group over there, and a cold, bare space in between. THEN I saw the 4-tree issue, which I've never cared for.

In today's attitudes toward bonsai and the dreaded rules is: You can do pretty much what you want in any way that floats your boat regardless of what someone else, or man made rules, may say about it.

Sure. You can do this, but you then should not be resentful when few others -- even those respecting your right to do it -- don't care for it.

Oh yes . . . SHALLOW oval pot.

(Sorry, pic should have gone after first paragraph.)
 

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johng

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Just trying to find the right size now.

Distance and perspective can be difficult to pull off in a group planting... I find it interesting that the feedback on the group I posted was only from the tree counters...not one direct mention of perspective or distance....although the original poster did mention the "drastic size difference"


This planting was never intended as a typical group (a number of trees planted together to represent a forest, or forest's edge) it was an experiment in perspective. Thus, I never applied the "rules" for creating forest plantings...in my mind they did not apply.

I am attempting to create an image that might reflect the way Cypress trees look when in a canoe and you look out across an open lake spotted with a few ancient flat-top Cypress. I really like how the trees and the plane of the water surface interact. In my mind the largest tree is by itself...a little further in the distance is the group of 2 and much further away is the smallest tree. I even considered trying to plant this group so that it would be viewed length-wise or from the side of the container...thinking I could achieve more physical distance and thus more imagined distance and perspective between the trees and may still do that in the future.

Admittedly there is much more work to be done before I am pleased with the composition (its only been together 6 months and the trees collected a year before that). Stick around and take a gander in 5 years lets see if it has improved:)

Al you are exactly right about the pot...obtaining an appropriate container is going to be a challenge and expensive.

G3ON5IA_GUY, the appropriate sized container is very important but it depends much on your vision for the planting you create. I hope you will share when you are ready. Here is a pic of Vaughan Banting with a BC forest planting that he and his crew created in the early 90's that I suspect may be similar to what you are envisioning.
did they use an even number of trees???:cool:
 

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