Bay Island Bonsai’s annual exhibit is held in January each year. It’s a great time to show bonsai, but it’s not always the most colorful time of year. At a recent BIB monthly meeting, we worked on a display that included a Japanese black pine and a Japanese maple. In winter, the maple would be bare. In spring, the foliage is bright green.
Boon setting up a display at a BIB monthly meeting
Or bright red. Boon brought two maples to try with the display, one green and one red.
Green and red Japanese maples
Matching these maples with the appropriate accent plant made for an interesting exercise. For example, no one liked the two green elements together.
Maple with grass
Contrasting red and green helped with the color, but in the example below, the accent struck many as quite large compared with the tree it complemented.
Maple with succulent
Swapping the red succulent for a smaller green accent solved the size problem, but reintroduced the green-with-green problem.
Maple with small accent
This became a good opportunity to try the red maple. The red maple looked pretty good with the pale green grass.
Red maple with grass
Swapping the grass for the red succulent worked better than expected as the white flowers and green leaves stood out well against the red maple foliage. Overall, however, the accent struck many as large for the small maple.
Red maple with succulent
The small green and yellow accent made the maple look relatively large and provided good color contrast. Which is lucky, because this combination provided nice balance to the main tree, a Japanese black pine.
Red maple and accent
Black pines look great with red maples. With the first and second tree set, the goal is to find appropriate stands and accents.
Color-wise, the accent below is a good fit for the display. But it position strikes me as funny – it’s not clear whether it is meant to complement the maple or the pine. A small matter, really, when we consider the stand for the pine.
The pine has a very powerful trunk with deeply furrowed bark. It has strong movement and a heavy pot. The stand, in sharp contrast, is delicate and feminine – more delicate than the stand for the maple.
Getting closer – a good mix of colors
The shot below reveals the combination that best pleased the crowd. The stand for the pine is taller and stronger. The red maple foliage contrasts well with the green pine foliage and the white accent pot provides nice punch.
Were more elements available, we feel we could further improve the display. This a good reason for testing out displays so far in advance of the exhibit – finding missing display elements isn’t always easy. For this display, we’re off to a good start.
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Jonas – I am pretty sure that this display will be in the “Kazari” exhibit and competition being held this weekend (I.e. today and tomorrow, April 17 & 18) – at the Clark Center for Japanese Arts in Hanford, CA. (Hence the emphasis on the current red foliage – which, as you point out, would not be there at the time of our show.
Mas and I are going tomorrow, so I’ll report back…