Pom Pom San Jose Project

doctorater

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EDIT: Incidentally, on your styling dilemma: You were originally attracted to the base so I'd think about retaining that. Post 6 is a nice image that makes me wonder about a slanting twin-trunk design, using the two trunks that go off to the right in that picture. The trunks would be tall, with most of the foliage closer to the top, like a mature conifer. Other trunks would be removed and thrown away (air layering just wastes a year unless you see trees you actually want in the sections to be removed), with the remnants carved into small, subtle, deadwood features at a future date. Caveat is that I've not studied your tree, and to be honest nobody can really give good advice without the tree there in front of them. This is just going on my general impression.
You got me thinking about a slanting twin trunk. No way you could see it in the photos, but for that the best angle might be from the other side - trunks 6 and 2 rather than 6 and 5

Here's a larger version of 6 and 5 slanting right...

Twins to R.jpg

And here's 6 and 2 slanting left...

Twins to L.jpg

That's a possibility I'll definitely look at more carefully before chopping anything. The challenge is trunk 6 has minimal movement or character from this angle.

I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

Steve
 

doctorater

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Everybody starts out in bonsai approximately the same way. We acquire a plant, sit down at the table, clip here and there, stare at the tree and say to ourselves, "What now?" We can't see the forest through the trees. Those of us that had the luxury of attending demos or better yet workshops get a boost to the next level by somebody looking over our shoulder and walking us through the process of looking at the individual parts that will make up a whole tree. That's important, but there's another aspect which is even more important: a tree was supplied by someone who actually knew how to shop for a good candidate. A good candidate!

One of the most difficult aspects of bonsai is, "where do we spend the time we have to devote to the art?" We all start in the same place, knowing nothing but wanting to have and to work on miniature trees. We discover that anything woody can be bonsai. Wow! Great, we all have favorite species. What we don't actually understand is that it is only superficially correct and it takes awhile to understand all species can be bonsai, some better and easier than others, but all individual plants will NOT be bonsai, some are just too unlike anything we want. The lesson that this OP is going to understand, come Hell or high water, is that you have to be able to walk through rows and rows of plants looking for particular features that contribute to bonsai while ignoring the thousands of trees that have counter-productive features. You John Naka would pick up a bad tree and try to make a bonsai out of it? The more experienced you get at selection, the better your trees will get. Eventually, you don't go to nursery looking for species, you go looking for anything with good bones. You see an interesting canopy and immediately look under her skirt. You want some kind of foliage, but you understand that you need to start with the nebari that's there, and the first three branches are absolutely the guts of a really good tree and either they're there, or you have to grow them for years to get what you need and want. Do you want to spend your precious time doing something,
Forsoothe, thanks for coming back and commenting again. Glad I didn't run you off with my snarkback. 😊

I appreciate your perspective here, but I think you're missing some things. I'm not actually new to bonsai, certainly not a beginner - more of "reginner" since I was active in the past, but got out of it for a while and am now getting involved again. I know pretty well, for example, how to go through nursery stock and find a good candidate for bonsai. The thing you're missing (and @Paradox as well) is that that's not why I bought this piece. I bought it for the material to teach me things that I know I need to learn (see my comment above). In the end, if the pieces don't make great bonsai then I've acquired some decent landscape material (or possibly compost material) but I've learned useful things and spent very little money to do it.

That said, I think I see potential beauty in these branches that you are missing. There are three or four (maybe more) perfectly pleasant bonsai in these branches. No, there isn't a ton of movement, but there's enough. to work with For example, these branches could, in a few years time, compare to some of these mostly straight "sticks" in pots, but these are all perfectly nice pieces of the bonsai art that I'd be pleased to have on my bench.


Trees.JPG

Look back up at the photos of the various branches and I think you can see the vision. None of them are going to win prizes, but they can become quite nice if I can raise my horticulture game to match me artistic vision - the horticulture part has always been my weakness. More specifically, it's the day in, day out consistency of caring for the tree and the patience to not let my artistic reach exceed my horticultural grasp.

I'd be curious to know, what's your weakness? Where do you most need to grow as a bonsai practitioner?

Thanks again for your comment,
Steve
 

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doctorater

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@doctorater

I see youre fairly new to the forum and to bonsai.
Welcome to the hobby and to the forum.

You probably arent going to like what I have to tell you about this tree, but I happen to agree with @Forsoothe! that this tree is not great material and probably not worth the time and effort to try and get something decent out of it.
I however will try to be more diplomatic than his first post and try to explain why its not great material and that while it could provide a great learning opportunity, it wont make a good bonsai.

I have walked past by 100s of these in my travels around tree nurseries looking for material and when I was new to the hobby was very tempted to buy them just as you did.

The biggest problem with these is the octopus configuration, trunks going out at all directions so left as is, its just a topiary, and cant make a convincing bonsai at all.
fI think that you have also come to that conclusion.

The second problem is that they mostly have rather straight trunks with all the foliage quite a distance away from the roots and as somone said, they dont seem to back bud at all.
Lastly the angle that each trunk comes off the root base is too extreme to make even a convincing informal upright and they dont bend so a cascade is out of the question as well.

I honestly dont know how easily San Jose air layer as I have never tried it myself but if you want to experiment, you could give it a try.
That said, lets assume that they do air layer well and look at each branch to discuss how if each one might be worth air layering.

Trunk 1
Has a little bit of movement from the angle pictured, but the branching above leaves a lot to be desired. There is a very large thick branch up near the top which would have to eventually be dealt with. Possible candidate.

Trunk 2
Very straight near the bottom with a bit of reverse taper wehre the branches start. Could try to do the air layer about halfway up the straight portion to make a better possible candidate.

Trunk 3
Very straight in the middle of the branch, reverse taper below. Lots of branches but the straight section would make it kinda meh.

Trunk 4
Very little taper throughout the branch. Interesting movement halfway. Might try the air layer just bleow the first branch. Area below the first branch very straight and not interesting at all so not worth keeping.

Trunk 5
IMO this is the best branch. It has nice movement near the bottom, relatively low branches. I would try this air layer where the edge of the pot is if you can.

Trunk 6
Also not a bad trunk except for the reverse taper where the branches start. I would air layer this about 3-4 inches below the branches.

Your proposed 2 trunk with #1 and #2
This configuration creates a 'Y' and would not be a very compelling 2 trunk. If you cant bend them to try and reduce that effect, its probably not worht it.
We usually try to avoid trees and branch configurations that form a 'Y' because they just dont look good at all.

IMO the best trunks in order are 5, 6, 1, 4 IF the tree can be air layered.

My advice is to try doing air layers on the less desirable trunks first (2, 3) to see if it will work.
You will learn something along the way.
Any way you go, this is a long term project to get anything decent. Whether its worth it or not, I dont know. For me it wouldnt be.
Dont get too invested in the tree because the chances of getting a decent tree out of this is slim.
Work on trying to find better material that has a better chance of developing into something nice.
Good luck
Thanks for commenting, Paradox.

I don't mind at all that you don't think this is great material because it's not great material. As you noted, I got it because it's a cheap learning opportunity. New species, new techniques, new challenge. However, while I know full well it's not great material, I think it has more potential than you think it does (perhaps it's the limitations of photos?)

One of the challenges I enjoy is to take something like this, an ugly duckling of sorts, and find the beauty in it and help release it. I think that's fun. Is that not fun to you as well? As far as the time I spend on it goes, I don't have benches full of quality prebonsai and well-developed bonsai in my yard. I have time for something like this. This project is perfect to move my skills forward while I gather, piece by piece, those nicer, more developed examples of bonsai art. I'm sure once my space is full of as much great stuff as yours is, I won't be as interested in in taking on a project like this one.

Further, I'm not as much of a beginner as you think, more of a "reginner" as I said to Forsooth above. Was out of bonsai for a while, now getting active again.

Your critiques of the individual branches are great, I agree with most of what you said and I really appreciate you taking the time to write it out.

Feel free to comment on my crap anytime!

Steve
 

Forsoothe!

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Forsoothe, thanks for coming back and commenting again. Glad I didn't run you off with my snarkback. 😊

I appreciate your perspective here, but I think you're missing some things. I'm not actually new to bonsai, certainly not a beginner - more of "reginner" since I was active in the past, but got out of it for a while and am now getting involved again. I know pretty well, for example, how to go through nursery stock and find a good candidate for bonsai. The thing you're missing (and @Paradox as well) is that that's not why I bought this piece. I bought it for the material to teach me things that I know I need to learn (see my comment above). In the end, if the pieces don't make great bonsai then I've acquired some decent landscape material (or possibly compost material) but I've learned useful things and spent very little money to do it.

That said, I think I see potential beauty in these branches that you are missing. There are three or four (maybe more) perfectly pleasant bonsai in these branches. No, there isn't a ton of movement, but there's enough. to work with For example, these branches could, in a few years time, compare to some of these mostly straight "sticks" in pots, but these are all perfectly nice pieces of the bonsai art that I'd be pleased to have on my bench.


View attachment 319953

Look back up at the photos of the various branches and I think you can see the vision. None of them are going to win prizes, but they can become quite nice if I can raise my horticulture game to match me artistic vision - the horticulture part has always been my weakness. More specifically, it's the day in, day out consistency of caring for the tree and the patience to not let my artistic reach exceed my horticultural grasp.

I'd be curious to know, what's your weakness? Where do you most need to grow as a bonsai practitioner?

Thanks again for your comment,
Steve
I should first apologize for assuming you didn't know what you were doing. You do, and you are on a mission. Welcome back, too.

Yes, there are useful things you can do with these as air-layers, and you might build a forest, too, since the brothers are nearly quintuplets and the thinness of the branching allows proximate, overlapping arrangements that would be augmented by smaller root systems. We would all like to follow this post over the next few years and be pulling for you.

We all have some weaknesses and mine is styling. I am a Treebler by training as a long time gardener and inclination, but I would like some edgy trees, too, but don't really have an artistic bone in my body so distorting trees in an artful fashion is very difficult for me. It's not that I can't twist and contort, bend and bow, and making the big cut is not a problem. I have made some ugly trees. The problem is more one of not being able to obtain the kind of grace that separates the men from the boys. There's another thread running about bunjin and one of the trees is too tall, thin, straight, and otherwise useless stock that someone managed into a strikingly beautiful tree, and another one that is a shitty Pine sapling offered as gonna be that is a never gonna be nothing, because the party of the second part doesn't recognize the difference between ordinary and art. You can't make beauty if you can't recognize the difference between artful and ordinary. In fact some of us can't make beauty even if we can distinguish between artful and ordinary. My glass is half full.
 

Kadebe

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... You can't make beauty if you can't recognize the difference between artful and ordinary. In fact some of us can't make beauty even if we can distinguish between artful and ordinary. My glass is half full.
As a newbie I know, that will also be my weakest point :p
 

Potawatomi13

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Normally believe is considered awkward having 4 trunks. Three or 5 trunks feels more comfortable. Trunk #4 is straight and no low foliage and would personally remove. Personally would simplify to 1, 3 and 5 as long as one of these is second rooted trunk. As to air layering: is there desire to have more of these? Seeing base of tree from side personally like 2 main trunks attached and creates bigger and growing base a big +. Removing one trunk leaves both with no roots(nebari)one side. Everybody may have ideas but after all is said is YOUR tree. Study, take time, no rush. WAIT until inspiration strikes and do not try to force design from dry well;).
 

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This is part one to how I got to a future thread. It will be linked.

First I thought, I would love for someone to show me a picture of a forest tree on this site, that has better started branching than this. I don't believe it exists. Especially with the poor general understanding of good branching we tend to demonstrate.

The only thing half wrong is the bare one sides.
But even the worst one shows off the trunk as we like, perfectly, before having branches near the top.

IMO. Any girths can still be adjusted with care. "Flip flopping" thicknesses to appropriate.

Made me really want to see them all layered and used in a Forest, because what else, is we don't want branching going into closely placed groups.
Making these trees perfect for that as well.

Anywho...
On to my disgust with "occums razor". @rockm I haven't been able to rid myself of these thoughts about it. I had to look it up. And forgive me, but it is by definition, lazy cop-out advice. The simplest solution is usually the best? My my. Please, in all peace and honesty, I believe you are better than believing that garbage from the 15th century!

Leaving this here cuz that thread got cancelled and "occums razor" shouldn't be applied to these trees, well, except to remove that bark of course.

I believe people can take sensible advice from people they respect, then continue applying it to situations, just because they are under that spell of respect.

Those are the thoughts that led me to the thread I'm about to create, it'll be an interesting one.

Trees be with you.

Sorce
 

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With respect to Occam's Razor applied to the art of bonsai, I believe the concept you are searching for is "mis-use of analogy".

Piece be with you.
 

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@sorce.... and what about rafts. I guess these trunks suite for multiple rafts?
 

doctorater

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I should first apologize for assuming you didn't know what you were doing. You do, and you are on a mission. Welcome back, too.

Yes, there are useful things you can do with these as air-layers, and you might build a forest, too, since the brothers are nearly quintuplets and the thinness of the branching allows proximate, overlapping arrangements that would be augmented by smaller root systems. We would all like to follow this post over the next few years and be pulling for you.

We all have some weaknesses and mine is styling. I am a Treebler by training as a long time gardener and inclination, but I would like some edgy trees, too, but don't really have an artistic bone in my body so distorting trees in an artful fashion is very difficult for me. It's not that I can't twist and contort, bend and bow, and making the big cut is not a problem. I have made some ugly trees. The problem is more one of not being able to obtain the kind of grace that separates the men from the boys. There's another thread running about bunjin and one of the trees is too tall, thin, straight, and otherwise useless stock that someone managed into a strikingly beautiful tree, and another one that is a shitty Pine sapling offered as gonna be that is a never gonna be nothing, because the party of the second part doesn't recognize the difference between ordinary and art. You can't make beauty if you can't recognize the difference between artful and ordinary. In fact some of us can't make beauty even if we can distinguish between artful and ordinary. My glass is half full.
Well, I may not truly be a beginner, but I'm quite sure I do NOT know what I'm doing. This site is full of people who clearly know what they're doing. In no way do I consider myself among them, not even close. However, this doesn't mean I think they're always right either 😉, especially since they disagree with each other all the time.

Interesting that a couple of people have mentioned the possibility of turning pom pom into a forest because that idea has been growing in my thoughts as well. Maybe I'll do a virt or a sketch and post it here.

You're talking about the "Intelligent Conversation of the Literati" thread aren't you. I LOVE that thread, my favorite by far that I've read on bonsainut. Several years ago I actually started a serious effort to "define" what made a literati a literati and reading that thread got me working on it again. I have plans to finish it up and post it in it's own thread (too long for a comment). If I'm lucky I'll be able to start some great arguments in the comments, muah ha ha.

Steve
 

sorce

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@sorce.... and what about rafts. I guess these trunks suite for multiple rafts?
Longer term, hell yeah.

@Forsoothe! I had it in mind to free pot whoever answer "trees be with you" correctly, and you nailed it so....we'll have to work that out!

Sorce
 

sorce

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What I expected when I clicked...

Swear to God I was thinking bout that song the other day. It was my jam, I was shocked that dude was white, but now, watching that video, thinking about deep fakes, I think dude was lip syncing, it was the era, only Milli vanilli? Doubt it! Lol!

Sorce
 

sorce

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Tanuki pop.

Sorce
 
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