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!
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Wow…this is a true art form…I enjoyed the pictures and the critques! 🙂
Hey, awesome! I came here from “freshly pressed” (of course), but I have a bonsai myself and now I am truly inspired to get more involved in “his life” 🙂
I think the art of bonsai is interesting. My father loves it and has some of his own bonsai. However, something about it really bothers me. I mean, completely controingl and domineering something as wild and natural as a tree? I don’t believe manipulating a tree makes it beautiful. I related it to plastic surgery on already beautiful women, it just makes them look like they’ve had work done — and that’s it.
Alisa from Sakurayume says
These are so beautiful. There is something so unearthly beautiful about the bonsai. Thank you for sharing this!
I read in an old book here at home that you can actually use a small rock to weigh down the branches to provide form to the whole plant. But this is just hardcore. Just look how he did the old cedar. What a beauty!
Beautiful trees captured in great photos. I love plants. I have no bonsai though a flourishing collection of bamboo and jade trees and ivy. Peace…
Amazing post. I am just too impressed with his imagination and patience. Bonsai brings out the piece of god in you, but also tests your patience. Some of the most beautiful bonsai plants only look good after decades.
Great work. I guess its time for me to get one.
Steve DaSilva says
Thanks For sharing.I enjoy your site.
amazing art,dedication and discipline for a thing of unique beauty !
Those trees are just amazing…
Amazing! I have always wanted to own and care for a bonsai. Seeing this has inspired me to get started. Thanks for a well detailed post!
John Kirby says
Looks like a great time was had by all. I am hoping that Daisaku will remove that branch and reduce the canopy size on this nice little juniper. He is such a great talent- and a very pleasant and friendly person. John
AMAZING! I’ve never had the chance to see one of these trees in person, but now I really want to!I love the pinyon pine!
robin valentine says
Those are amazing!
Robert Bain says
I have a massive jade plant that is now 20 years old, absolutely beautiful and healthy – I love it. My little green army men run around the base of the plant. Bonsai to me are like dinosaurs that are still alive – seems like they are from a time so long ago
this is great. I love bonsai and had a small chinese elm for awhile but i just did not put in enough effort or time with it.
It really is a beautiful art that takes years to create and years to master.
I’m glad i found this blog and will definately be checking back!
Evie Garone says
Wow! Beautiful…I think I would love to think of taking this up as a hobby…I am in AZ and gardening here is pretty ridiculous it’s just to darn hot, I think I could do that indoors…it’s a fabulous thought…Thanks. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! Any Recommendation for getting started?
@Evie – thanks! I’d recommend checking with local bonsai organizations. They can suggest good varieties for your area, and I know there are some good clubs across AZ. Good luck!
Christy aka Mamarazzi says
So interesting and informative! I’ve always loved the look of bonsai, thank you for this post!
Love Bonsai. Maybe I can try it myself oneday!!
Great technique, it is pure art. Bonsai are so wonderful and mystical!
Welldone! Very nice!! I also enjoy Art.
I have always loved Bonsai and there is a beautiful garden of Bonsai in Mysore.
Is it true that, the trees/plants do get hurt when they are treated to grow life dwarfs?
@Rohit – thanks! We actually have to keep the trees very healthy to thrive as bonsai. When well cared for, they can live for hundreds of years.
Seán Coleman says
Thanks for sharing. This was great. I’m a bonsai enthusiast on the east coast. Really loved reading this post.
What awesome pictures. The art of Bonsai has always fascinated me.
echo morose says
Beautiful trees, but I am unsure of whats exactly going on. Forgive me for my ignorance. 🙂
amazing. if only i had a green thumb, i’d be so into this. but as it is, every plant i try to ‘take care of’ dies eventually… =(
Thankyou for the great pictures, these Bonsai are magnificant.
i like the bonsai photo
but the expressions of Nomoto
are something too
it makes one appreciate the duo 🙂
Very very cool. After reading this, I have a slightly greater appreciation of the art of bonsai.
Beautiful pictures! I did not realize how much work went into the art of bonsai.
these are lovely photos! all the trees are amazing!
Great Post! It looks like you really have a green thumb, how I wish I had a gift similar to yours.
Very interesting post! Your pictures are great along with their descriptions. Do you have a bonsai / was it pictured? Thank you so much for sharing such a special event with us all!
@Herbaloo – Thanks, none of my trees showed up in this post but a number of others are pictured here in other posts.
www.ppbi cab tasikmalaya says
Nice style…good work.
Great photos and congrats on Freshly Pressed!
I love, love LOVE bonsai trees. Beautiful and just such a feeling of Zen about them. The old cedar is especially amazing. Now if I could just keep my own from dying off so early, I might get to the stage of shaping them beyond a trunk with brown leaves. 🙂
i love the way the guy adjusts the bonsai. great bonsai photos!
I’m glad I checked this page. It offers a fresh inspiration for new bonsai enthusiasts like me. Thanks!
Despite the amazing beauty of the trees and the incredible talent put into them here, the most fascinating thing about this entire thing is that you call your blog “…alternative to the mainstream bonsai media.” I didn’t know there was such a thing as mainstream bonsai media!
Anyway, the writing was fantastic, and you could easily start your own magazine, if you cared to. The raw talent re: photography and writing are clear.
Hope Anderson says
This brought back wonderful memories of the bonsai we had at our home in Tokyo, where I grew up. It also made me wonder whether I could make a bonsai myself.
Yasir Imran says
Beutiful photography and great art.
I met the Placerville bonsai club over in the White Mtns of Eastern Ca. They were digging up Pinyon pines for bonsai trees. You probably know those folks.
This is absolutely fascinating, and I love the pictures where you showed the different trees and what he was thinking about with styling them. I’ve never seen this before, or really known about it, so I find it definitely very cool.
Interesting take! This site makes for very good reading!
Anne Lessing says
Those are awesome! It makes me want a bonsai tree. Thanks for such an entertaining glimpse into this art form.
Wow I never realized how much went into bonsais. Like many others have said, the photography and the trees look amazing. You can tell Nomoto really enjoys his work.
Beautiful artwork here, keep up the great work.
anne onsoien says
I like the pictures and it gives me a feeling of peace, if everyone could take care of eachother like that!
what beautiful bonsai!!! i love the natural aspect connected to the physical and mental aspects.
Nick Hurst says
I have a bonsai myself but these are amazing, I hadnt ever considered tilting the actual container before…. smart idea.
Wow… a true artist!
Great photos. His gestures and expressions are full of energy. Some good trees too.