Bonsai Tonight

Deadwood and movement

Posted in Excursions by Jonas Dupuich on June 3, 2014

The most compelling aspects of bonsai are often out of our control. This is true for both deadwood and movement – a tree either has them or it doesn’t. While hand-carved deadwood and manufactured movement can be both beautiful and artistic, it’s hard to compete with nature.


Branch on a dead lodge pole pine

When it comes to deadwood, only age can produce the texture, color and detail we see on old trees living in harsh conditions.


Fissured deadwood

Deadwood on the trunk

Smooth deadwood

It would be very difficult to produce the delicate detail that results from exposure to the elements over time. For this reason, natural deadwood is often prized above man-made deadwood.


Delicate deadwood

Much of the same can be said of a tree’s movement. Together, weather, wind and water, with help from sand, snow and ice, can produce beautiful effects.

Juniper foliage

Sierra juniper foliage


Junipers and deadwood

Over time, nature can produce novel combinations of movement and deadwood. Some are extreme.


Massive trunks support soft foliage

Others combinations are more lyrical.

Interesting movement

A twisting branch

Stepping back a bit, we can find beautiful patterns in branches of similar age bending at similar angles.

Interesting movement

Beautiful bends

Just as often, inconsistent bends can produce equally beautiful results.

Interesting movement

Imaginative bends

The harshest conditions can produce wild results.

Interesting movement

Deadwood formed by many years of harsh existence

This results in trees that convey their response to the environment. Few varieties do this as well as junipers.

Interesting movement

Sierra juniper


8 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. dangerousbry said, on June 3, 2014 at 5:04 am

    Reblogged this on DangerousBry's Blog.

  2. Mac said, on June 3, 2014 at 6:40 am

    This points out one of the problems I have with creating jin on a bonsai. Even Kimura cannot duplicate what your photos illustrate. If not natural I appreciate an accent jin of a small branch here and there or a bare patch of wood on a trunk. The trees that are made mostly bare wood with a live vein feeding a clump of foliage at the top while an interesting exhibit of someones skill just doesn’t excite me, unless it is a natural occurring condition from nature.

  3. zack Clayton said, on June 3, 2014 at 6:56 am

    Well said Mac. And as to manufactured jin, I feel that less is more. break the branch off and tear it a little. burn off the fibers and, if needed, bend the branch to a position with the heat and leave it alone to weather.

  4. mirko said, on June 3, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Nice post!!!!!!! tnx for share

  5. susan said, on June 3, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Great post, Jonas. Thanks for the lovely pics.

  6. bonsai junkie said, on June 4, 2014 at 12:08 am

    break, tear, burn, bend? we are but men…………

  7. backcountrydan said, on June 4, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Reblogged this on Backcountry Bonsai and commented:
    Great post from Jonas! Deadwood and movement… That’s what keeps us out there searching.

Comments are closed.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,391 other followers

%d bloggers like this: