Bonsai Tonight

Exposed root pines in progress

Posted in Bonsai Development by Jonas Dupuich on August 12, 2014

Last year I made reference to a process for developing exposed root pines (see “Repotting 1 year old black pine seedlings“). I started two last year, one black, one red. Here’s the black pine at 1 year.

Planting seedling

1-year-old black pine

The tree has done well – here it is a year and a half later.

Exposed root black pine

2-1/2-year-old black pine – any suggestions as to why some foliage is yellow?

The red pine potted at the same time has also taken off.

Exposed root red pine

2-1/2-year-old red pine

I’m happy to see such vigorous growth and am planning to let both trees run for several years to thicken the trunk and roots. I’ll begin to consider the branches and actually expose the roots at some point in the future.

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Kinashi Bonsai District

Posted in Excursions by Jonas Dupuich on December 21, 2012

The Kinashi Bonsai District is the source of many different bonsai varieties, but by far most trees from this region are black, red, and white pines. Each of these varieties are typically grown here in pure “river sand.” Warmer winters and hot muggy summers make river sand the perfect medium for pines in the region.

River sand

River Sand

Kitadani Shokkoen - river sand

River Sand

The growers tend to develop trunks in the ground, then dig the trees to develop the branches. Given enough time, some fun trees result.

Black pine

Black pine

Exposed root pine

Exposed root pines

At each nursery, I asked the proprietor if he or she had pine seeds for sale. The first time I heard yes, I was led to the back reaches of the property where said seeds were kept in a workshop. I’ve been growing some of these seeds for almost a year now – a small reminder of Shikoku in my own backyard.

Workshop

Workshop

Flats and pots

Flats and pots by the workshop

Wandering through the nursery-ridden neighborhood offered views of different approaches to growing pines. Some plots were tidy, others rangy, others seemingly abandoned. With the price of rough pines as low as it is in Japan today, it can cost more to dig and care for a tree than one can make selling it.

Growing grounds

Growing Grounds

Growing grounds

Pine foliage

Growing grounds

Mini bonsai forest

Growing grounds

Some not-so-healthy cork bark pines

Growing grounds

More less-than-healthy cork bark pines

Growing grounds

White pines

Growing grounds

Black pines

Growing grounds

Pines in need of a haircut

Growing grounds

Little pines

At the Kinashi bonsai center, several nurseries had trees for sale, including some new varieties. The senzyumaru black pine below had tinier foliage than kotobuki yet the variety grew more vigorously. Here’s the oldest of the batch.

Senzyumaru

Senzyumaru

Behind one of the growers, the proprietor’s son – one of the convention headliners – maintained a fabulous collection of shohin bonsai.

Shohin

Shohin

Black pine

Shohin exposed root black pine

Black pine

Black pine

Black pine

Young black pines

Japanese pepper

Japanese pepper tree

Back outside, it was all pines again.

Growing grounds

Rangy black pines

Growing grounds

Well kept pines

Growing grounds

Many well-kept black pines

I finished the afternoon at a nursery near the start of my tour. It was famous for a black pine with extraordinary branches. Seriously extra-ordinary.

Big pine

Black pine

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Pines from Ritsurin Garden

Posted in Excursions by Jonas Dupuich on December 11, 2012

Apart from the overall beauty of the place, the most memorable feature of Ritsurin Garden its collection of pines. Each is old and well cared for, like Tsurukame-matsu (crane and tortoise) below. From the park brochure, “A black pine tree resembling the shape of a crane spreading its wings planted in a turtle-shaped stone planter made from 110 stone blocks.”

Tsurukame-matsu

Crane and tortoise

From a distance, the pines are collections of green puffs.

Pine

Pines along the pond

Up close, one can see evidence of the hard work that goes into these trees.

Pine

Well-developed branch pad – where are the old needles?

Collections of pads form the silhouette of each tree.

Pine

The soft outline of a black pine

The park has hundreds, if not thousands of pines. Somehow, each has received painstaking care to produce some of the greatest curated pine vistas I know of.

Pine

Small green clouds

Having pruned pines in landscapes for a number of years, I marveled at the resources required to maintain such a place. One famous path ran beneath a low canopy of pines that provided a great silhouette of the branches.

Pine

Cascading pine branches

Pine

Pine promenade

Occasionally red pines would dot the landscape.

Pine

Red pine bark

But more often the pines in the garden were black.

Pine

Black pine branches

One of the more famous trees at Ritsurin is a large white pine growing between the Kikugetsu-tei Teahouse and Nanko Lake. From a sign posted at its base, “Neagari Goyomatsu – This is a grown-up dwarfed pine transplanted from a flower pot to the ground. Ienari Tokugawa (the 11th Shogun) is said to have given the tree to Yohiro Matsudaira (the 9th lord) in 1832.”

White pine

Tokugawa’s gift – exposed root white pine

White pine

The exposed roots

Ritsurin is a pretty special place, reason alone to visit Shikoku. I can’t wait to get back.

Pine

Ritsurin Garden

Pine

Pine leaning over the water

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The bonsai of Aichi-en

Posted in Excursions by Jonas Dupuich on March 6, 2012

The bonsai of Aichi-en

I always appreciate the different approaches bonsai professionals take with their gardens. Some gardens are filled with exhibit-ready trees while other gardens are filled with project trees. Some focus on a certain size or variety of tree while others include bonsai of every description. At a glance, it’s clear that the focus at Aichi-en is on pine bonsai. White, red, and black pines fill the majority of the garden, and there are more large trees than medium or small sized bonsai. Trident and Japanese maples comprise the bulk of the deciduous trees, but these sit beside quince, ume and hornbeam among other deciduous varieties. There are junipers, cryptomeria, and many other trees whose names I do not know.

From the roof of Mr. Tanaka’s bonsai workshop, one can get a sense of how many trees fill his garden.

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Aichi-en from above

More garden and the family house

Tanaka keeps some trees on the workshop roof.

Rooftop garden

Many of the garden’s project trees were kept on the rooftop. The nicer trees were situated closer to ground level.

Black pine on a rock

Root over rock Japanese black pine

Black pine

Black pine

Pine

Pine

Red pine

Red pine

Black pine

Black pine

Most of the kifu-sized trees shared a staggered table near the house.

Kifu bonsai

Kifu bleachers

In fall, the colors were wonderful.

Fall color

Bonsai Fall color

Up close, the trees were wonderful. Two of the garden’s Zuisho were outstanding.

Zuisho

Japanese five needle pine – ‘Zuisho’

Zuisho

Zuisho bonsai

Considering the small size of Zuisho needles and branches, these are remarkably full trees.

Zuisho from above - what a full tree!

The same tree from above

The Japanse maple beside the front gate turned a wonderful shade of red.

Japanese maple

Japanese maple

The pieris below sits right inside the front gate.

Pieris

Pieris bonsai

I snapped these shots during short breaks or early in the morning – those precious moments when I was free to appreciate the trees in the garden. Back in the workshop, I appreciated the trees one at a time. The black pine below was one of the last ones I worked on at Aichi-en. I removed all of the old needles and some of the new from the strong areas. In weak areas, I removed some or all of the old needles. I also cut a few small branches where more than two emerged from the same place. It was very basic pine work, but it made the tree look a lot better.

Black pine

Cascade Japanese black pine

Old needles

New, old, and dead needles

After removing old needles

After removing old, dead and some new needles

Black pine

Fall work complete

That’s the story for a single pine. With all of the pines in the garden, that’s a lot of tweezer work.

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