Bonsai Tonight

Drench for root aphids follow-up 1

Posted in Bonsai Development by Jonas Dupuich on September 1, 2015

Back in July I treated a number of black and red pines for suspected root aphids (see “Why are my trees yellow“). I’ve noticed a few changes since then and wanted to share what I’ve seen.

  • Some yellow growth has turned green
  • The healthiest trees are sending out summer shoots
  • The weakest trees remain unchanged

My biggest worry when drenching the two- and three-year old pines was that the treatments would damage roots. Although it’s far too early to tell, I can report that there has been no evidence to suggest catastrophic changes to the trees that were treated. On a more positive note, I’ve noticed a few trees turn from yellow to green. The new needles on the pine below were yellow before treatment. Although the old needles remain yellowish, the new needles have greened up considerably.

Black pine

3-1/2 year-old black pine

Black pine

Spring growth

I have no way to tell whether or not the greening resulted from any treatment, but I’m happy nonetheless as it’s a sign of the tree’s health.

Some of the healthiest trees are now sending out summer shoots.

Black pine

Summer shoots on 2-1/2 year-old black pine

Black pine

Summer shoots

We often think of black and red pines as trees that send out new growth one time per year – two when we decandle – but healthy pines regularly send out summer shoots when they’re growing vigorously. This is particularly true of younger pines.

Black pine

1-1/2 year-old black pine

Black pine

Summer shoots

Red pine

1-1/2 year-old red pine with summer shoots

Pulling a flat out at random, I noticed that all but one of the trees had summer shoots.

Black pine

1-1/2 year-old pines

These trees will all need wiring and repotting before next spring. In the meantime, I’ll continue to feed heavily to help the trees prepare for winter.

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Conifers at REBS 32nd annual show

Posted in Exhibits by Jonas Dupuich on August 28, 2015

It’s when I see good material that I most think about what lies ahead for a tree. This year’s REBS exhibit featured some pretty fine conifer bonsai. In time these trees will only get better. Recently collected material will develop refined branching while deciduous trees will continue to ramify and develop more fine branches.

For example, the collected Sierra juniper below has interesting deadwood that contrasts well with the lifelines. As the branch pads fill in and display greater age, there will be less contrast between the old deadwood and the vigorous young foliage. There are also a few different stylistic directions the tree could take. Currently a thin, compared with the deadwood, trunk rises directly above the base of the tree. A lower apex, maybe off to one side, would dramatically change the feeling of the tree. Using the current silhouette with or without revealing more of the deadwood rising to the left could also have a big effect on the overall presentation.

Sierra juniper

Sierra juniper

The juniper below has very unusual deadwood – the tree’s most unique feature. I expect the blocks of foliage will be used to create interesting balance that highlights this character.

Sierra juniper

Sierra juniper

We’ve seen the foliage on this coast redwood become much more dense over the last few years – testament to good care on the part of the tree’s owner. As a result, the lower foliage block has eclipsed the size of the upper block. I expect that the balance between the two may change over time, possibly by changing the point where the blocks intersect. There are several options for doing this – I’ll be curious to see what the tree’s owner comes up with.

Coast redwood

Coast redwood

I’m a big fan of the black pine below and it looks great this year. The branch pads are coming along quickly. As they continue to mature, they’ll become a fitting complement to the interesting bark.

Black pine

Black pine

I really like the balance of the San Jose juniper below. Further branch refinement will improve it. And it’s hard to believe how much of the foliage is mature – a rare find among San Jose junipers.

San Jose juniper

San Jose juniper

One of the best things about grafting Sierra junipers with shimpaku foliage is that the new foliage develops very quickly. That’s the case for the juniper below. The big opportunity here is to carefully select windows through the foliage to reveal a bit of the trunk and provide balance to the far reaching semi-cascade design.

Shimpaku

Shimpaku

There are many options for the collected juniper below. Currently most of the foliage is found at the tree’s periphery. This gives us a good view of the tree’s best features – it’s deadwood and movement. How then to integrate the foliage with these features? Where to situate future branch pads? I’ll leave this one to the imagination.

Juniper

Juniper

White pine

White pine

The redwood below has fascinating deadwood. Refined branches will make this a compelling tree.

Coast redwood

Coast redwood

Black pine

Black pine

Shimpaku

Shimpaku

I’ve included a couple of pics of the juniper below to better highlight the movement of the trunk. The movement is great – some well defined branch pads will make a good compliment.

Procumbens juniper

Procumbens juniper

As for the base of the trunk – does it make more sense to leave the dead portion above the soil to highlight the movement or to bury it halfway and make the base look stronger?

Trunk detail

Trunk detail

Thanks to everyone at REBS for making my visit to the event a pleasant one and for all of the work that makes such a large show possible.

Exhibit hall

Exhibit hall

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Trident maples at REBS 32nd annual show

Posted in Exhibits by Jonas Dupuich on August 25, 2015

This past weekend marked the Redwood Empire Bonsai Society’s 32nd annual show. The show is well-known as one of the best – and biggest – exhibits in the area. The show always features a number of collected trees, particularly different varieties of junipers, and it boasts a surprising number of well-established trident maples. Having seen these tridents in summer shows for several years running, I’m more and more curious to see them in winter to get a better sense of how the trees’ owners are developing the branches.

I like that northern California bonsai clubs host exhibits throughout the year so bonsai can be viewed in every season, but it’s nice to see the same trees in different seasons too. Fortunately a number of local enthusiasts participate in a number of clubs and show their trees throughout the year so a good number of trees can be appreciated in and out of leaf.

As for those that are in leaf, here is a sample of the deciduous and broadleaf bonsai on display at the REBS exhibit, including those trident maples.

Trident maple

Root over rock trident maple

Trident maple

Trident maple

Trident maple

Trident maple

Trident maple

Trident maple

Japanese maple

Japanese maple group planting

Olive

Olive

Summer provides a great opportunity to show trees with fruit. Trees with fruit add both color and interest to an exhibit.

Grape

Grape

As befits a large exhibit, there was a large shohin display. Rather than present the trees in a small number of box displays, the shohin were spread out in several large displays that ran the length of the tables.

Shohin display

Shohin display

Shohin display

Shohin display

Shimpaku

Shimpaku by Bali

REBS never disappoints when it comes to accent plants either. Overlook these bonsai companions and you’ll miss some unexpected arrangements.

Accent

Accent

Accent

Accent

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Thoughts on shopping for bonsai

Posted in Reflections by Jonas Dupuich on August 21, 2015

I’m excited – tomorrow I’m heading up to the largest bonsai exhibit and sale in Northern California – the Redwood Empire Bonsai Society’s 32nd Annual Show.

Coast redwood

Coast redwood as displayed at the REBS 29th annual show

There are only a handful of events in the area that provide a good opportunity to shop for quality material and REBS is one of them.

What will I be looking for? That’s always a good question. Like just about everyone, I’ll cruise the aisles in the vendors’ area to see if anything catches my attention. The better question is what happens when I find trees that I like.

Typically these trees will need some work. A few might be ready for exhibition, but even show ready trees can improve with time. How then to select trees to take home? When I’m level-headed about it, I ask myself some of the following questions before deciding.

  • Am I interested in addressing this tree’s problems?

No tree is perfect. Sometimes a few grafts are all that’s needed – do I have the patience to invest the time to get the tree healthy, graft and then develop new branches? If I think the effort is worth it, it might be a great purchase.

Sometimes a trunk has significant faults. Do I see myself planting the tree in a large pot or in the ground and letting it grow for several years to address problems with the curves/scars/taper on the trunk? If it’s a variety that’s hard to come by, the answer might be yes.

  • What can I learn from the tree?

Large trees with lots of small branches can be great for practicing wiring. Black or red pines with crucial flaws can be great for learning how to decandle. Forgiving varieties like trident maple offer opportunities to learn about defoliating and wiring deciduous varieties.

  • Do I/my friends/the world need more of this variety?

Sometimes the answer is simply yes. Anyone seen leftover chojubai at the end of an exhibit lately?

Flaws are flaws when we’re judging trees, but they can be good opportunities too. Tomorrow I’ll be looking for trees with flaws that I’m interested in addressing.

Of course, tomorrow’s also a great time to load up on supplies like pots, wire and soil that come in handy when repotting season comes around. Before heading to the event, I’ll check my wire, tool and soil supplies and see if there any specific pots I need so I’ll be all set when the time comes to get to work.

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