Pyracantha, Past , Present, and Future

Smoke

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Here is an uninteresting back shot of a fairly smooth trunk. I have no side shots since the sides are well, sides.
 

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Smoke

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Heres a couple root shots since those are probably coming next;) I have cut this back almost to a cutting each repotting. This was a couple months back in the fall and the third time since it had been dug.
 

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Smoke a great history of this tree. The latest pic is superb the pot is as good as it gets, the stand is perfect.....
I have looked at these pictures for quite awhile, trying to figure out what was wrong, why my eyes were not at rest when viewing the image and there are a few things, some obvious, like the lack of Nebari at this stage of development, the almost pine like silhouette, and the heavy foliage masses hiding branch structure.

But what I think really bothered my eye was that the pot and the stand seems to be battling each other, to my eyes anyhow. The sharp angularity of the pot and the smooth, curved shape of the stand do not seem to work together, the pot on this stand steals from the image of the tree. Besides the shape, I think the color of the pot could be better as well.

I think a shallow, oval pot and rounding out the foliage pads, while reducing them somewhat to show more taper and a little of the branch structure would greatly approve this tree.

Great feeder root development on this one and an excellent example of professional root pruning.

Just my thoughts,


Will Heath
 

Smoke

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Hi Will, I do have to commend you as to your direct questions concerning a tree of this development in three years from the first picture, but OK i'll humor you.

What you see is what you get. I have showed everything there is to show of this tree except side pictures which I can do now. The lack of nebari is because there wasn't any on the tree when I dug it from the parking lot. I think it will have as the years go by and the roots enlarge. I have taken this back to a cutting each year to get the roots in the places that I want them. They will come.

As far as the stand. This stand was started in 2004 and finished in 2005. It was under construction at the same time as the stand I built for you. The tree at the time had the dark brown Tokoname pot as its pot. I felt that the tree fit this pot stand combination very well. In fact there is a picture of the stand in one of the pictures with the stand under construction. Like all projects we move on to other pots and try those for a time. Right now I am very happy with the pot it is in. The depth and size are perfect with this tree. I happen to know a guy that makes stands and he is making a new one for this pot and tree combo as we speak. It will be a stand that definately brings out the angular qualities of the tree, pot and stand as a unit. Something that I tend to work for in all my compositions.

As far as canopy shape and branch structure, I am surprised at the question. I happen to likes its shape. Since its my tree that is all that matters. As far as hiding anything, well I know you have had some experience with thorny shrubs. Pyracantha definately fits that catagory. I know you have worked with barberry and maybe others. I have no idea if you have worked with pyracantha or not, but building branch structure in one of these is a decades long process. I have shown the first picture and what it looked like when it was dug. Do you see any branch structure there? There is none. There is not much more three years later. Foliage pads on pyracantha are built with leaves. Thorny shrubs like this and barbery, eleagnus, silverberry, and pyracantha will almost always have a canopy built with leaves. Branches do come , but at the expense of very much pruning and pinching. I have done this very carefully over its short three years and will continue to improve its structure as the years go by.

While this tree is in no way complete, it was posted here more for its extraordinary bonsai like look in only three years rather than for a completed tree. I have watched people work on trees far longer than this and still have nothing even remotely this good in this short of time. Thanks for the inquiries.
ak
 
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I have watched people work on trees far longer than this and still have nothing even remotely this good in this short of time. Thanks for the inquiries.
ak

Please don't take me wrong, I do think that this is a good accomplishment in three years, no doubt about it.

The pot/stand combo surprised me, maybe it took me so long to put my finger on it because it was yours, your pot/stand matches are usually impecable. In fact the match up you did with my Ficus in the Tokonoma with the stand you custom made for it is perfect....I once was looking to replace it, but nothing else fit so well. Please update us on the new stand.

Thanks for sharing,

Will
 

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While this tree is in no way complete, it was posted here more for its extraordinary bonsai like look in only three years rather than for a completed tree.
I think it is a remarkable accomplishment for 3 years. I have trees that I've had for 15 years that haven't come around as quickly.

Looking at the nebari, is there anything you are thinking about doing other than giving it time? When I look at your roots photo (the one where you are holding it in your hand) it looks like there is decent flare at the base, but a lot of fine feeder roots directly beneath without too much to the sides. I am not familiar with pyracantha - is this a typical growth pattern? Any way you could hard prune the roots underneath and let the radial roots grow a little? With my trident maples they constantly want to grow roots down - each time I repot them I plane the bottom with a hand plane and only keep the radial root mass.

Not being critical - just curious.
 

Smoke

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Well unfotunately bonsai seems to be all about time management and patience. I guess the big kicker will be just how much time and effort I might want to put into this tree. The only way to achieve the kind of roots many think it should have would be to mechanically add them. This would include grafting, a technique I have only had limited success at. Further, it would mean that I would have to have some kind of seedling stock to graft at the bottom.

This was the last year I will take the bottom of the tree back to a cutting. This will give me some additional growth in the roots. I may skip repotting next year if the tree does not push up in the pot significantly. This might induce more girth on finer roots as well.

I can only manage what I have and at least I'm not dealing with roots like those on those pines you posted. Man those roots are ugly. No wonder they are selling so cheap. I would rather have no nebari than look at that each day;)
 

Smoke

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Crisp fall air...excitement ensues. Something comes over me and I can not stop it. It now becomes imparitive that I some how chnage the direction this tree is taking. It is very symmetrical.

Right branch has lost the fight.
 

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Martin Sweeney

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Al,
Decisive! How long had you been thinking about removing that branch?
I like the new image very much. It is dynamic. I look forward to seeing more of this tree in the future. Makes me want to re-add a pyracantha to my collection!
Thanks for sharing.
Regards,
Martin
 

Mark D.

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Great progression! I'd love to see what the last 4 years of training has done!
 

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I've been reading up on pyra's, as I just purchased a smallish pre-bonsai pyra. I'd love to see where this one has gone if you have time to update. I'll be starting the branching over on the one I have, so am happy to see the progress yours made. Thanks!:)
 

Smoke

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This tree was due for a repot due to it trying to walk out of the pot. Missed a couple years!

I have two pots that may work for the tree. The one is a signed Begie that I bought for a pine but decided not to use it for that tree. It is rather light in color on the orange side which would work fine. The pot shape is unique and on the tall side which is why i didn't use it for the pine.

The second pot was given to me back in the eighties. A Japanese friend of my Father found out I like bonsai and gave me everything he had. He brought these pots here from japan after the war. This is a Yamakki pot and the clay body is dark purpleish brown and black. It is a very cool pot and very smooth. About 65 years old.

So...we have the choices, what say you?
 

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Brian Van Fleet

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Both are nice pots and work. Think I like the bigei, shape compliments the canopy. Yamaaki is a little too deep and narrow to give a stable image.
 

Smoke

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Both are nice pots and work. Think I like the bigei, shape compliments the canopy. Yamaaki is a little too deep and narrow to give a stable image.
I flipped the pictures. I think you had them backwards. The Bigei is the lighter deeper pot.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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I flipped the pictures. I think you had them backwards. The Bigei is the lighter deeper pot.
Sticking with the shallow oval...even more so with the history behind it...what's going on with the dead area on the trunk, die back from removing that branch?
 

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I prefer the rectangle (Bigei) just a bit over the yamaaki as I think you need a fairly deep pot for that thick trunk. If the yamaaki was just a bit deeper, it might change things. Nice pots and great tree, Al.
 

Smoke

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Sticking with the shallow oval...even more so with the history behind it...what's going on with the dead area on the trunk, die back from removing that branch?
If you scroll to the top and look at the first picture you can see that as the top of the trunk. Originally I wished to make a shohin tree out of this stump, but the base was so big and the rootage was larger than I expected so a kifu/chuin size tree was in order. The new tree is from trunk that I grew behind the chopped area. The nasty chop at the top was done by a bobcat during removal at the parking lot.
 

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I would go with the oval pot Al.

But I am curious, why such a dark pot?

Cheers,
Paul
 

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I would go with the oval pot Al.

But I am curious, why such a dark pot?

Cheers,
Paul
Well mostly because Dick Ryerson did not come to the shohin convention for me to buy a glazed pot for this tree. I found this pot in my garage and it was the right size so I used it. It is dark brown and it will look good when the tree is in fall color with berries. Obviously this tree was already potted when I added to this thread.

Thanks all who commented on the pot. I really liked the other pot alot. The reason I did not use it is because the trunk is rather long before the branches start. I felt that with the narrow taller pot it made the tree far too tall for my taste. The lower shallow oval makes the tree seem more squat and powerful.
 

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