Slingshots

Eric Schrader

Chumono
Messages
520
Reaction score
755
Location
San Francisco, CA
USDA Zone
10
We've seen a couple of "slingshot" trees here recently with owners looking for solutions to this problem. But as I contemplate the idea of removing one of the trunks, or splitting the tree into two I always think that while those are solutions, they may not be the best solution. I am attaching a photo of a tree that I saw while on a trip to Japan last year that seems to suffer from a slingshot trunk but has overcome it nicely. Opinions?
 

Attachments

  • slingshot.jpg
    slingshot.jpg
    48.7 KB · Views: 154

Bonsai Nut

Nuttier than your average Nut
Messages
9,211
Reaction score
16,863
Location
Charlotte area, North Carolina
USDA Zone
7B
Thank you for sharing this photo! If you have any other photos from Japan you feel like sharing - please do :)

I think the underlying problem with a slingshot tree is that you have two competing focal points. The only solution is to make one of the trunks a dominant focal point while reducing the other. This can be accomplished visually by jinning one of the trunks, or physically by cutting, reducing, or drastically pruning one of the trunks.

It is hard to see all the detail in your photo, but notice how the two slingshot trunks do not compete in the design. The larger trunk was jinned and dominates the design. The smaller live trunk is actually quite a bit smaller, and it is tucked into and balanced with the lines of the larger trunk. In my eye I don't see two competing trunks - just one cohesive design.

Also note that the angle of separation between the two trunks is narrow. The wider the angle, the more difficult it is to balance the design. In the case of my recently posted slingshot juniper, the two trunks separated at 90 degrees forming a very heavy and awkward trunk line that was more like a "L" than a "V". Even if I were to jin one of the trunks, I would still be left with the awkward intersection that would be impossible to mask.

One other possible solution that I considered is to create a new trunk from the live vein of bark on one of the sides. If you start thinking about that approach, suddenly you have a lot of options available. Even so, I'd be working to reduce the angle between the two trunks, and making sure that one of the trunks was considerably thicker and more dominant than the other.
 

GerhardG

Mame
Messages
212
Reaction score
3
Location
Rosh Pinah, Namibia
USDA Zone
9b
Guts....

Hi

I had a slingshot that bothered me incredibly, problem is the tree (disregarding the slingshot) looked just like I wanted it....
Closed my eyes and made 2 drastic cuts, I no longer have a nice looking little Pierneef, but I have a tree with a future.....

Regards,
Gerhard
 

Bill S

Masterpiece
Messages
2,494
Reaction score
20
Location
Western Massachusetts
USDA Zone
5a
It can really depend on the tree, we had Roy Nagatoshi in for a demo and workshop, and he brought a shimp that looked like it coud have been handlebars for a bicycle. Well after a couple hours of his magic, it turned into a pretty nice cascade. It took some trunk sawing/breaking and bending to get it there but it worked very well. So well in fact our club raised the price for the typical raffle afterward and made a nice chunk of change for the club.

One side of the tree was brought down for the cascade and the other was moved to be the apex. Not an instant bonsai, but it will make a fine example in a few years.

Then too there is the option of removing one side and using the other. It takes a good eye often to find the hidden tree, but that is what we need to focus more on - finding the better tree in the materials we use/buy/collect.
 

Vance Wood

Lord Mugo
Messages
13,649
Reaction score
15,830
Location
Michigan
USDA Zone
5-6
There is another solution, hit on, sort of, by BillS's observation of the cascade transformation. The solution in many cases is to incline the "Sling Shot" so that one of the elements is inclined more toward the horizontal eliminating the sling shot effect. This may not work in every case but I have seen some dramatic transformations accomplished when this is done.
 
Top