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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
The redwood below has fascinating deadwood. Refined branches will make this a compelling tree.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Root over rock trident maple
Japanese maple group planting
Summer provides a great opportunity to show trees with fruit. Trees with fruit add both color and interest to an exhibit.
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.
Shimpaku by Bali
REBS never disappoints when it comes to accent plants either. Overlook these bonsai companions and you’ll miss some unexpected arrangements.
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 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.
For those of you who weren’t able to visit REBS’ recent show, here’s a peak at some familiar trees from different angles.
Under the canopy of a white pine
White pine grafted on black pine
In addition to presenting great bonsai, the REBS show features a large vendor area, within which one can find a great variety of trees and supplies.
For the astute – or local – among you, you’ll recognize the vendor whose work and wares are featured here. And if not, a final clue:
Next up, a visit to his garden: Deer Meadow Bonsai.