Last weekend the Redwood Empire Bonsai Society held their 31st Annual show in Santa Rosa, California. Following recent tradition, it was their best show to date. What stood out to me? Many things! Above all else, I’m impressed by how much effort has gone into creating the trees on display. The cork oak below is a good example – it was developed from acorn for 46 years!
The trunk has good taper and movement, the silhouette is full, and no significant scars distract the from the overall effect – it’s a well-developed bonsai.
Other trees developed over much longer periods of time in nature but have developed quickly as bonsai. The Sierra juniper grafted with shimpaku foliage below is a good example. While the branches are relatively young compared with the trunk, the foliage creates an interesting effect and the tree is full and healthy. As time goes by these branches will develop more and more character and make a great compliment to the natural deadwood.
Sierra juniper grafted with shimpaku foliage
It’s this kind of effort that increases the total number of trees in the community and keeps exhibits interesting – for this, thanks REBS!
The show also featured a number of the club’s namesake coast redwoods. While redwood bonsai doesn’t always – or often – represent miniature versions of large trees, the variety is good at exhibiting characteristics like interesting deadwood that we often prize in bonsai.
Coast redwood – great deadwood
The show also featured a number of trees that made me think about balance. The prostrata juniper below was one of my favorites because the trunk and foliage design make for a dynamic composition.
Prostrata juniper – 72 years
Likewise the shimpaku below. The tree points unambiguously left but provides both interest and movement.
Shimpaku – 18 years in training
The cedar below points in the opposite direction. It’s age is starting to show in a good way in that fissures are opening up along the trunk and main branches.
As another reminder of the locale, the REBS show featured a large Zinfandel vine over 100 years old. The trunk evokes great age and the fruit indicate the season. And somehow the foliage looks fresh and new – quite a feat for late August.
100+ year-old Zinfandel
Among the more playful trees in the exhibit is the shimpaku below. I couldn’t find a straight branch on the tree. It’s also a great example of the basic design principal of course to fine. From the base of the trunk to the ends of the branches the wood gets thinner and thinner with good movement along the way. And as the foliage is still relatively young, these branches too will become more compelling with time.
It was easy to appreciate the large deciduous specimens – a good counter-balance to the many conifers in the exhibit.
Trident maple – 50+ years
And these were just a few of my favorite trees from the exhibit – more from the show coming soon!
The flowering perennial below has long been a favorite of mine. Do you know its name? The flowers are pink and white, the fruit are red.
Accent plant – Gaultheria procumbens (Thanks Laura!)
I’ve seen it in Japanese exhibits and it sometimes shows up in local shows.
A specimen from Bay Island Bonsai’s 14th annual exhibit
Thanks and bragging rights go to the first correct response.
One of the relatively new trees in my garden is a Japanese flowering quince ‘chojubai.’ As I purchased the tree from Boon bare-root, I’ve mainly focused on letting the tree gain vigor. Toward this end, I’ve been watering, feeding and removing flowers and flower buds when I can.
Japanese flowering quince ‘chojubai’
Like many chojubai, mine blooms a bit all year round, making the removal of flowers something of a part-time job. If I don’t remove them in a timely fashion, small fruit appear.
I can’t vouch one way or the other as to whether fruit from Japanese flowering quince have culinary value. After a less than satisfactory experience with unripe princess persimmon, I’m content to let others lead the way.
As the tree has become fairly vigorous, now is a good time for cutback and wiring. It was an excellent time to begin removing the thorns. Thorns are common feature in chojubai, and removing them is a common practice.
After removing the thorns
As you might imagine, the cutback and thorn removal took a long time. The work was pleasant as it forced me to examine every branch closely which helped me better understand how the tree had grown into its current shape and what might be in store for its future.
Once I got to work, the wiring went relatively quickly. When I was done, the tree started to suggest its future shape.
Chojubai – after wiring
From the back
Within days of the initial cutback, new buds started appearing – both leaf buds and flower buds. I’ll continue to remove the flower buds and encourage all new growth as the main goal at this point is to increase foliage density. I’ll consider repotting the tree in late fall or early spring.
This past winter I started a number of trees from seed. I planted the usual varieties – black and red pine – but also added some new varieties. I have yet to develop these varieties from seed to mature trees so am looking forward to seeing what comes next.
Chinese quince seedlings
A Chinese quince seedling