Well, a new beginning for the little big azalea

october

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Hello all.. I have posted this tree before. It is a shohin I have had/been training for 4 years...Although the tree looked nice, It needed a complete rework because the initial design was on borrowed time because if the interior structure. The trunk forked into 2 thick leaders that had 2-3 thick upward branches off of them. Basically, I cut the entire right trunk leader off and cut one thick branch off the left one. Just leaving the single leader, I just wired some branches in place. I was pretty lucky that there were some very nicely positioned branches on this new leader.

The first pic is the before designating the cuts.

Rob
 

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davetree

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Nice work, it can take some guts to cut like that. A better tree will be the result though. It looks good already.
 
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Much simpler... very nice choices. It has come a long way in those 4 years. :)

Kindest regards,

Victrinia
 

Concorde

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Nice job, but I liked the tree much better before cuts. Just my opinion.:eek:
 

RyanFrye

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October,

The image you had before wasn't bad...but it wasn't great either. And unfortunately many people would have settled for the image that wasn't bad. But, you've done what many are not willing to do with their material. I commend you for this! :D Good for you. Too few of us have the patience and emotional fortitude to do something like this. You're basically starting the tree's journey over again...except this time you'll be going to a much better place.
 

october

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Thanks Victrinia and davetree..... We will see how the tree grows now, I am probably going to let it grow relatively freely for a while.

Hello Concorde... It was nice before... However, in bonsai, if the interior structure is not well organized and structured, the design is on borrowed time. If i had not did this, this tree may of had 2 more years od looking good, then it would be lost, probably for good.

Hello Ryan.. Yes..you understand the importance of what has been done... The image before looked good on the surface...However, due to the interior structure, it was only a matter of time before the design was lost and possible health issues arose.

Although it may seem like a brave move, the fact is that this was probably more of a necessity. The sling shot trunk with the thick branches would eveutually thicken up and crowd everything so that there would be no room for any foliage to grow in the interior, which could mean permanent die back on potentially good areas. Also, if left as before, all the energy from the tree was going into these thick upright branches and they were all going to start getting reverse taper. In bonsai, sometimes if something looks too good in training, it is not the best thing for the tree... I think maybe in 1 1/2 -2 years, the tree might be ready to show.

Rob
 

johng

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Hey Rob,

I appreciate the attention to detail and the continuous improvement that you seek with your trees. I see and understand why you did what you did with this tree from the perspective of improving the structure. I wonder if structure is as important for an azalea as it is for a pine, maple, or juniper??

To my eye, your tree now has much more of a "pine" shape/style. Since azaleas are not trees in nature and are instead shrubs that we typically grow as bonsai just for the flowers and not their wonderful natural tree shapes, I wonder if improving the structure at the expense of large scars (relative to the material) was really necessary?? In addition, I wonder if the new style will be as effective at displaying flowers when compared to the previous form (small tree, large flowers)?

Perhaps you could give a rip about the flowers in which case please ignore all of this:D

In most cases I typically try to avoid big scars on azaleas and maples...even if healed completely they are often unsightly....My own experiences have demonstrated that azaleas are not the best at healing scars...they usually will not rot but rarely are the plants successful in completely covering large pruning wounds.

I love azaleas and have way tooooo many small ones like this in development. I have been following a similar approach to development that you have taken on this tree...establish a general shape and then working over time to improve branch placement and ramification.

One trick that seems to be working with a few of my small azaleas is to shorten the larger branches...allow bud back to take place and then pick two small branches to keep near the end of the stub. Carve or cut the end of the larger branch between the two smaller ones to create more natural taper and ramification along the branch. Although not perfect solution by any means this does allow you to avoid scars on the trunk from the removal of larger branches.

John
 

october

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Hello John,
Actually, you make some very good points.. A few years back, I cut off a pretty big branch which healed quit well.. The good thing is that where these scars are, especially the big one on the right, not visible from the front...

As far as the pine tree style, I have never really understood/subscribed, so to speak, to the calling of it "the pine tree style" when in actually, it is an informal upright style.. I do realize that many pines are in this shape, but this style (informal upright) can be appled to almost any tree that it is willing to be applied to.. At the nursery, there are many azaleas that are in this informal upright style.. Many have 3-6 inch trunks and are only 14-20 inches tall.

As far as the flowers, flowers have never been a concern for me with this tree. In my opinion, the tree is far to small to pull off the look of having any flowers on it.

Esentially and what I am hoping..lol... Is to get new buds on the upper 50% of the tree.. Then, let everything grow out.. So essentially, I am going to have a tree that looks similar to how it did, but the interior will have order and also have room for the foliage to grow healthy... The way it was before,, no light or air was or could penetrate any where in the interior.

Here is a pic of one of the azelaes from the nuresey. This one has about 5-6 inch base and is about 16 inches tall

Rob
 

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october

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p.s...a little foliage can go a long way.. Here is a virt... I am just going to let it all grow out, then cut back.. Hopefully, it will fill in like this...

Rob
 

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johng

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pine tree style or informal upright...makes no difference...a dollar and a buck still spend the same. The tree you posted from the nursery is a beautiful slanting style. I saw many nice azaleas and remember a very fine one in particular that was in a spectacular blue glazed container at NEB last summer. I was told it belonged to a Japanese gentleman who comes and teaches about azalea once or twice a year. You are lucky to have such a resource...I would like to know what method they use to develop such nice trunks. We see pines and junipers all the time but I have never once seen a picture of any large azaleas in the development stage. They surely must grow them in the ground but beyond that I have not a clue how they develop such nice trunks...I suspect it is like everything else in Bonsai...Slowly:)

I have seen as many imported azaleas as the next guy and you are right that most are trained as informal uprights. However, those are not shohin or smaller trees. I guess what I was trying to figure out with your tree was the scale issue with the flowers. But, since you mentioned that flowers are not your goal its a moot point.

Good luck with your tree...its a nice one!
John
 

october

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Thank you John,..also, The Japanese gentleman you are speaking of is Master Hiromi Tsukada.. He is considered one, if not the best, in regards to azalea bonsai at this time.. I have had the pleasure of seeing him work at the nursery and I can tell you that there was one demonstration that was one of the most amazing things I have seen in bonsai. He took a huge over grown straggly rhododendron bush and turned it into this amazing informal upright/cascade bonsai.. It was unbelieveable.

I also have had the pleasure of assisting him in repotting a 300 year old pine.

The informal/slant style azalea I posted from the nursery in the blue glazed pot is probably the exact one you saw. I could be wrong, but I believe it is one of Master Tsukadas trees that he left at the nursery...

Regarding trunk size, I believe that master Tsukada does grow these azaleas in the ground in the ground. However, I think that he believes that something magnificent can be created in 3-5.

Rob
 

Attila Soos

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I think that he believes that something magnificent can be created in 3-5.

Rob
...it must be a typo, I agree that 35 years is realistic. My 5 year old azaleas in the ground are pencil-thick..ok, may be one of those larger pencils, the ones the carpenters use.
 
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october

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Hello Atilla. Yes, Ithought about it after I typed it.. I should clarify that I was talking about 2 different things....Master Tsukada believe that very nice bonsai can be created in 3-5 years.. That seems to be his philosophy. This, however, is not in regards to ther 6-8 inch trunk azaleas. This is just a general bonsai philosophy. I cannot say for sure, but I think that these trunks or maybe a uit smaller, say 4-5 inches..can be acheived in 10 years..... Keep in mind, these azaleas are cultivated in the gound in Japan in perfect conditions... Grown in their native soil, kanuma.. So not only are they grown by bonsai masters, but they are in the earth in their native soil.

Rob
 

Attila Soos

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Hello Atilla. Yes, Ithought about it after I typed it.. I should clarify that I was talking about 2 different things....Master Tsukada believe that very nice bonsai can be created in 3-5 years.. That seems to be his philosophy.
One can also interpret the quote such as: "If you start with a good quality stock, you can create a good bonsai out of it, in 3-5 years". This means, that the 3-5 years do not include the time needed to grow the stock itself.
 

october

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Yes, I believe that your interpretation is correct...I believe master Tsukada also uses thread grafting.. Also, a few years back, he demonstrated a new form of wiring.. Instead of the traditional space between the coils. He would wire very close together... Wiring like this gave him the means to put many different bends and curves and to create beautiful movement within a branch. Also, much stronger hold throughout the entire branch.

I will say that if anyone has the chance to go see Master Tsuakada do a demonstration, it is well worth the time and travel.. Especially if it is on azaleas.

Rob
 
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