It always feels good to be a member of Bay Island Bonsai. This week it feels great. Bonsai professional Daisaku Nomoto of Miyazaki, Japan, provided the program for this month’s meeting. It was a critique – members were invited to bring trees for comment and some minor re-working. Turned out to be a great evening. Here are some of the trees and comments they elicited.
The first tree under consideration was a Japanese black pine. Nomoto wanted the movement of the silhouette to reflect the movement of the trunk, so he suggested some minor cutback. The tree’s owner gave the ok, and Nomoto got to work.
Nomoto demonstrating the tree’s movement
Note the shoot pointing downward in front of the trunk – removing it shifted some emphasis from one side of the tree to the other
Nomoto adjusting branches with pliers and finger
A few more adjustments
The chopstick indicates the relationship between the apex and the center of the trunk. This relationship has a big effect on the tree’s overall balance.
The pinyon pine below was a gift to Boon from Michael Hagedorn. The tree has grown steadily for a number of years and is ready for a styling. Nomoto suggested removing the foliage on the left side of the tree to emphasize the bunjin movement of the trunk. Instead of removing the foliage all at once, he recommended removing it over time to preserve the lifeline defining the shari along the trunk.
Noting the future location of the first branch
This section of the lifeline feeds the foliage to be removed. Removing the foliage over time decreases the odds that the lifeline will die back in the area to which Nomoto is here pointing.
Nomoto was very impressed with the small Olive below. He mentioned several times his desire to take the tree back to Japan. Why? He tells us that small olives with such great trunks are quite rare in Japan, and that this specimen is a great candidate for the Kokufu Exhibit.
Admiring the olive
Nomoto’s one suggestion was to change the angle at which the tree was planted. By tilting it forward, the trunk rose straight into the air rather than leaning back.
The suggested planting angle
Suggested planting angle from the front
I was very impressed by the material that showed up for the meeting. Many of these trees have yet to be shown, however their quality was great. The juniper below has a super trunk and awaits a styling before it’s ready for exhibit. Nomoto’s suggestion was to plant the tree lower in the pot. The relatively narrow base of the tree creates some reverse taper which distracts from the overall power of the trunk. By planting the tree lower, the base of the tree looks larger in relation to the rest of the tree.
Sierra juniper – note subtle reverse taper at base of trunk
Suggested planting depth and pot style. This pot is a bit too small for the tree, but the style and color make a great match
A very mature Sawara cypress elicited a single recommendation. The tree’s current silhouette is quite round. Nomoto suggested a more triangular silhouette.
Sawara cypress and chopsticks
After asking some basic questions about the variety, Nomoto offered to trim a few branch pads on the boxwood below to demonstrate how more, smaller pads can make the tree look older and more developed.
Trimming boxwood foliage to create smaller pads
Another collected juniper elicited some interesting suggestions. For the jin below, Nomoto suggested gouging out the channel just to the left of the old lifeline to create more interest.
Examining the deadwood
He also suggested removing most of the trunk. The pinyon branch stands in for the future key branch.
Juniper with towel and pinyon foliage
The first goal for the very old cedar below is to return it to health. It’s come a long way in the past year, but still has a bit to go before it can withstand significant styling. Nomoto recommended removing the branch that emerges at the first bend in the trunk. His first preference was to leave no jin behind, providing the wound can heal properly, though he thought a small jin could also be appropriate.
Appraising an old cedar
The fantastic juniper below was grown by Jim Gremel. Nomoto wanted to reduce the canopy a bit. To do so, he recommended removing the first branch. This branch grew upwards and formed somewhat of a second trunk. Removing it would leave room for one of the upper branches to fill in and provide a more appropriate silhouette.
Seen from the front – great movement
The foliage at the right emerges from the branch Nomoto suggests removing.
Thanks go to Boon for arranging for Nomoto’s visit. It’s quite a treat to have such talent at a 30-person club meeting, commenting on our trees. I understand what a special occasion this is, and I appreciate it greatly!
Subscribe to Bonsai Tonight
New Posts Delivered Every Tuesday and Friday