For the past couple years, Redwood Empire Bonsai Society has done a great job showing off their large trees. Often difficult to display on standard sized tables, the large trees at REBS’ recent show were set on extra-deep tables.
The extra space these tables offered provided breathing room between displays and helped visitors appreciate each on their own merit.
Cascade shimpaku – winner, National Bonsai Award at the 1st US National Bonsai Exhibit
(The 4th National Bonsai Exhibition is happening in two weeks – hope to see you there!)
I appreciated seeing large trees like the semi-cascade Sierra juniper below displayed high up as it provided good views from above, from below and from at least two sides.
The occasional suiseki provided a break between the trees – a nice touch.
A large ginkgo survives with just the outermost part of but half its trunk.
Trident maple and Sierra juniper (in training 4 years)
Screens added variety to selected displays.
Japanese black pine
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!
I’m always happy to see flowering and fruiting bonsai at exhibits. Maybe I appreciate the contrast – or maybe I’d simply like to see more of these trees in my collection. Either way, flowering and fruiting bonsai sprinkle a show with color and provide good variety.
Pyracantha – 30 years
Japanese showbell – 10 years
Although not in bloom, two great satsuki azalea made an appearance.
Satsuki azalea, korin – 30 years
Satsuki azalea, kozan – 35 years
Variegated varieties can also provide contrast to the usual green at exhibits, like the trident maple below.
Trident maple – 42 years
Alder – 104 years
Wisteria – 20 years
Chinese quince – 42 years
I really appreciate the signs indicating time in training as this can be fairly unguessable to untrained eyes.
Escallonia – in training since 2012
Corkbark elm – in training since 1996
Chinese elm – 13 years
For those of you haven’t had the opportunity to visit the Redwood Empire Bonsai Society’s annual show – as you walk in the front door, you’re greeted by redwood bonsai on the left and on the right.
More redwood bonsai
Large and small redwood bonsai
It’s fitting for the club to lead with their namesake variety. Inside the main doors lie even more redwood bonsai nestled among a great mix of varieties.
Shimpaku – trained since 1996
I’ve included variety names and age or years in training as indicated on the displays and have guessed at the rest.
California juniper – collected 2004, styled 2012
The prostrata below was one of my favorites at the show. Good deadwood and strong movement in a compact tree is hard to find.
Prostrata juniper – 70 years
Corkbark black pine
Mendocino pygmy cypress – 23 years
White pine – 30 years
The shimpaku below is well known to REBS visitors. I’ve included a few shots from different angles to offer a better idea of what the tree is like in person. One of these views revealed a surprise.
Shimpaku – front
Deadwood from the front
From the back corner
And this was the surprise.
View from other back corner
If you look at the base of the trunk, the tree appears to be floating, or held aloft by narrow runners. Such a delicate view of the trunk would not make a good front for the tree – it was a smart decision to select a side that hides the gap.