Uniqueness in Brooms

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#1
I am starting to turn a lot more attention to brooms. What I found is that, for the most part, they look very similar to one another.

In informal upright, trees can differentiate themselves with their trunk lines. However, since brooms generally don't have taper, are upright, and have intense ramification, they all seem to look similar to the untrained eye. Could this possibly be the reason for their lack of popularity?

Walter Pall "introduces" the informal broom which allows for more differentiation. What is the defining line between formal/informal upright with terrific ramification and branch placement versus an informal broom?

I love Walter's "movement" to make deciduous tree look more like what they are. How can we make compelling designs to support that? This alters the approach to developing rough stack completely! Trunk chopping would no longer be as simple as flat cut/develop the broom or cut, develop a leader.

Inputs?
 

Adair M

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#2
Well, there are two styles, the one you described where all the branches emanate from a single point on the trunk, and the Center Line broom where there is a central trunk line, and lots of branches growing off it.

Why to you see so few of them? They're incredibly hard to do well.y

The style looks deceptively easy. Until you try to do it.

A good broom will not have any reverse taper or bulge at the point where the branches begin. No scars on the trunk. Great nebari, all the way around. The branches not only should have lots of ramification, they should all have taper. No crossing branches.

Also, the "Broom Style" is part of the "Formal Upright" category.
 
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#3
Well, there are two styles, the one you described where all the branches emanate from a single point on the trunk, and the Center Line broom where there is a central trunk line, and lots of branches growing off it.

Why to you see so few of them? They're incredibly hard to do well.y

The style looks deceptively easy. Until you try to do it.

A good broom will not have any reverse taper or bulge at the point where the branches begin. No scars on the trunk. Great nebari, all the way around. The branches not only should have lots of ramification, they should all have taper. No crossing branches.

Also, the "Broom Style" is part of the "Formal Upright" category.
Of course it is difficult! However, the problem I am finding is how to make them unique. While beautiful, they tend to have a hard time differentiating themselves from one another. My question is, how can we create captivating, dynamic, individualistic brooms?
 

coh

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#5
How about something like this (a link to an image on Water's blog)? Not really the "classic" broom with all the branches originating from one spot, and not really a single trunk with small upward pointing branches. Instead, several large sub-trunks that originate from different locations and which all contribute to an overall "broom-like" canopy.

 
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#6
How about something like this (a link to an image on Water's blog)? Not really the "classic" broom with all the branches originating from one spot, and not really a single trunk with small upward pointing branches. Instead, several large sub-trunks that originate from different locations and which all contribute to an overall "broom-like" canopy.

Yes, that is what I mean by a unique broom. Not many out there though! Walter seems to be the only on doing it!

To revert back to the first post, where would one begin to make something like this with rough stock unless it already had all of the elements?
 

coh

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#7
Getting back to your first post...

I am starting to turn a lot more attention to brooms. What I found is that, for the most part, they look very similar to one another.

In informal upright, trees can differentiate themselves with their trunk lines. However, since brooms generally don't have taper, are upright, and have intense ramification, they all seem to look similar to the untrained eye. Could this possibly be the reason for their lack of popularity?

Walter Pall "introduces" the informal broom which allows for more differentiation. What is the defining line between formal/informal upright with terrific ramification and branch placement versus an informal broom?
To me, when someone uses the label "informal upright", I think of a primarily single-trunked tree that changes direction and tapers upward, with branches coming off the trunk at the designated spots (outside of curves), level or downward at lower levels and upward at higher levels (see the recent thread on the korean hornbeam). Whereas an "informal broom" is like the image I posted - a trunk that splits into multiple sub-trunks that ascend into a broom-like canopy. Of course, somewhere in between there are trees that exhibit both characteristics, but I don't think it really matters too much what one calls them.

I love Walter's "movement" to make deciduous tree look more like what they are. How can we make compelling designs to support that? This alters the approach to developing rough stack completely! Trunk chopping would no longer be as simple as flat cut/develop the broom or cut, develop a leader...To revert back to the first post, where would one begin to make something like this with rough stock unless it already had all of the elements?

Inputs?
I have a bunch of trees that are in the growing bed and hope to develop some into these types of informal brooms. But I haven't been doing this long enough to know what works and what doesn't. I've just started doing trunk chops...most trees throw a bunch of buds after a chop, so I would think at that point you could select some of them to be new sub-trunks, and maybe one to be a new leader...from which additional sub-trunks could be built. It might take longer to get the basic framework established compared to a classic broom.

I think I've seen a fair amount of stock available that has some of these characteristics already. Some shrubby plants used for bonsai (boxwoods, burning bush) seem to grow into this kind of structure naturally. Most trees probably don't, at least not while small...many trees if left to their own devices form a stong primary leader, so the multiple sub-trunk form would have to be developed through pruning/chopping, branch selection, etc.

Interesting topic...I personally really like the "informal broom" style and hope others have input regarding developing stock into this form.

Chris
 

GrimLore

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#8
The Natural approach Walter has chosen is paving the way for more exciting and less "cookie cutter" style Bonsai. If I do anything other then "hedge" this collected Bush it would be to push towards his natural design. You simply need an odd or unusual collection/purchase and a plan/time/understanding of the goal.

http://bonsainut.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=52137&d=1398704216

Grimmy
 

Adair M

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#9
Walter's tree has several flaws, judged by the classical style. To wit, there are crossing branches, the "sub trunks" don't have any taper, and there are some large still unhealed scars.

Don't get me wrong, it's a very nice tree. But it does not have the refinement shown in the Japanese trees.

Is it because Walter strives for a "natural look"? Or is it because he took the fast track, using branches that already existed on his stock and didn't grow out the branches? I don't know. I suspect it's more he used what he had and made the most of it, rather than spend the decades it takes to grow one out.

And there's the problem: it takes decades to grow these out properly.
 
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#10
Walter's tree has several flaws, judged by the classical style. To wit, there are crossing branches, the "sub trunks" don't have any taper, and there are some large still unhealed scars.

Don't get me wrong, it's a very nice tree. But it does not have the refinement shown in the Japanese trees.

Is it because Walter strives for a "natural look"? Or is it because he took the fast track, using branches that already existed on his stock and didn't grow out the branches? I don't know. I suspect it's more he used what he had and made the most of it, rather than spend the decades it takes to grow one out.

And there's the problem: it takes decades to grow these out properly.

I think a good conclusion to this discussion could be: like everything else in the world, truly dynamic, compelling pieces are hard to find, and is judged in the eye of the beholder. There are two routes to take, develop a textbook piece, or draw outside the lines a bit. In my opinion, anybody can draw a (nearly) perfect square, but stepping outside the boundaries and guidelines of "correct" will allow a person to create something special.
 

Poink88

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#11
Walter's tree has several flaws, judged by the classical style. To wit, there are crossing branches, the "sub trunks" don't have any taper, and there are some large still unhealed scars.

Don't get me wrong, it's a very nice tree. But it does not have the refinement shown in the Japanese trees.

Is it because Walter strives for a "natural look"? Or is it because he took the fast track, using branches that already existed on his stock and didn't grow out the branches? I don't know. I suspect it's more he used what he had and made the most of it, rather than spend the decades it takes to grow one out.

And there's the problem: it takes decades to grow these out properly.
I agree and admire you for stating it as you see it. :cool:
 

GrimLore

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#12
I think a good conclusion to this discussion could be: like everything else in the world, truly dynamic, compelling pieces are hard to find, and is judged in the eye of the beholder. There are two routes to take, develop a textbook piece, or draw outside the lines a bit. In my opinion, anybody can draw a (nearly) perfect square, but stepping outside the boundaries and guidelines of "correct" will allow a person to create something special.
I agree with that statement and mentioned earlier Walter is paving a new path in many aspects and to me it is inspirational and truly an art form rather then text book stock. Many disagree and claim I am lazy or do not care but they tell Walter and some other Masters the same *shrugs*.

Grimmy
 

Poink88

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#13
I agree with that statement and mentioned earlier Walter is paving a new path in many aspects and to me it is inspirational and truly an art form rather then text book stock.
Grim,

I admire Walter's work and I believe we need more of him but some of his bonsai I will "tweak" to my liking a bit. His way is great but it is not always perfect for me. I believe & see that the Japanese standard was developed for good reasons. He is building his own guidelines which is fine. He won't be as well known now had he stuck with following the Japanese way 100%. ;)

I am all about trying new stuff but sometimes, breaking guidelines is just breaking guidelines... Some do it artistically and it shows.
 
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#14
Grim,

I admire Walter's work and I believe we need more of him but some of his bonsai I will "tweak" to my liking a bit. His way is great but it is not always perfect for me. I believe & see that the Japanese standard was developed for good reasons. He is building his own guidelines which is fine. He won't be as well known now had he stuck with following the Japanese way 100%. ;)

I am all about trying new stuff but sometimes, breaking guidelines is just breaking guidelines... Some do it artistically and it shows.
You can make great bonsai following the traditional guidelines, but will you create something that is truly unique? Following the guidelines will allow someone a safely create a great looking tree, but it be something that someone has already seen (more or less). I will argue that it is more difficult to break beyond the borders of tradition and create something attractive. However, the only way to create something unique is to forget traditional structure. There will certainly be a lot more failures than successes, but if we don't break tradition, how will we ever discover something truly great?
 

Poink88

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#15
You can make great bonsai following the traditional guidelines, but will you create something that is truly unique? Following the guidelines will allow someone a safely create a great looking tree, but it be something that someone has already seen (more or less). I will argue that it is more difficult to break beyond the borders of tradition and create something attractive. However, the only way to create something unique is to forget traditional structure. There will certainly be a lot more failures than successes, but if we don't break tradition, how will we ever discover something truly great?
The key is knowing what is appealing and not just willy-nilly doing "your own thing". As I said, I am all for trying new things but most of the time the best way to break something is after you mastered it.

There is a comedian in the Philippines who became famous for his ridiculously out of tune songs. Only later did we learn that he has a music major and knew how we respond to sound so well that he can craft those weird tunes.

Most of the dumb sounding comedians are actually almost (if not) genius...and does it well only because they are brilliant.

Same is true in bonsai.
 

coh

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#16
I think a good conclusion to this discussion could be: like everything else in the world, truly dynamic, compelling pieces are hard to find, and is judged in the eye of the beholder. There are two routes to take, develop a textbook piece, or draw outside the lines a bit. In my opinion, anybody can draw a (nearly) perfect square, but stepping outside the boundaries and guidelines of "correct" will allow a person to create something special.
I think there is another "fork in the road" that Adair sort of brought up in his post: one can choose to "make the best of what one has" and develop a nice tree relatively quickly, or work slowly and methodically toward a "flawless" tree (if such a thing even exists) that won't be "finished" until after the current owner's lifetime.

The system that existed in Japan supported the second option, as one generation passed the bonsai down to the next, often within the same family...knowing they would be well cared for and developed. Here in the U.S...how many of us really know what's going to happen to our trees after we're gone? Does it make sense for me to spend a couple of decades just establishing the "perfect" framework? Those of us who get/got into bonsai later in life (and I'm just past 50 myself) probably feel that pressure a little more intensely. I'd be very happy to develop something like Walter's tree, flaws and all, in my remaining bonsai years.

By the way, look at those other more classical brooms that were posted earlier in the thread...they all have crossing branches/trunks and various other flaws.
 

Adair M

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#17
coh,

You have my feelings correct. Many of those Japanese trees have taken lifetimes to create.

Many have been passed from master to master. Or grandfather to grandson.

We westerners, just have not been doing bonsai long enough to develop the refinement that these old Japanese trees have obtained.

In Peter Tea's blog about his time he spent in Japan as an apprentice, he writes about a huge JBP that was collected 50 years ago. Branches were grafted on. Peter helped repot the thing. It gets repotted about every decade. Peter asked when it would be ready to be shown. The answer? In about another 50 years.

One more thing about brooms: You'll notice that they are shown without foliage. The leaves block the view of the structure, which is everything in a broom style.

And I have a question for the Original Poster: Have you seen many broom style bonsai? I haven't. I've had a few, none truly exception ones. But I hardly ever see any. They're rare.

As are regular formal upright trees. Hardly ever see one of those, either. And the "rules" for creating a formal upright are pretty rigid, too. Another "cookie cutter" style, except you hardly ever see them!
 

Adair M

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#18
Boon showed me a magazine article about a guy who developed a $1million zelkova. (Well, he was offered a million for it. He turned them down!)

The article showed pictures as it evolved over the decades. At one point about 30 years ago, it was really beautiful. But, the next year, all the "subtrunks" or branches that make up the broom were cut back to only 2 to 3 inches! Why? To develop better taper! This tree that had been under development for 20 plus years was cut back to nubs! Now, 30 years later, it's just that much better.
 
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#19
The key is knowing what is appealing and not just willy-nilly doing "your own thing". As I said, I am all for trying new things but most of the time the best way to break something is after you mastered it.

There is a comedian in the Philippines who became famous for his ridiculously out of tune songs. Only later did we learn that he has a music major and knew how we respond to sound so well that he can craft those weird tunes.

Most of the dumb sounding comedians are actually almost (if not) genius...and does it well only because they are brilliant.

Same is true in bonsai.
I agree. Most beginners should stick to the traditional framework. However, the original framework (stylistically) is limited. Mastering a tree is different from mastery in understanding. One should be both a theorist and practitioner. If a person were to wait for a tree to be fundamentally ideal within the traditional sense, they would never have the time in their lives to move beyond it. Sure they can keep working toward it, but there is a fine line between a mastered tree and a mastered practice.
 

Poink88

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#20
I agree. Most beginners should stick to the traditional framework. However, the original framework (stylistically) is limited. Mastering a tree is different from mastery in understanding. One should be both a theorist and practitioner. If a person were to wait for a tree to be fundamentally ideal within the traditional sense, they would never have the time in their lives to move beyond it. Sure they can keep working toward it, but there is a fine line between a mastered tree and a mastered practice.
I agree also...in so many ways. You, me, & Neli are the few (that I know) who believe & posted something to this effect here.
 

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