A number of readers provided suggestions for Jeff’s Japanese black pine this week. Front #1 is the closest to the current front. It’s a great selection based on the current style – one that features balanced branches on both sides of the trunk. The second and third options were both popular, possibly because they present more dramatic curves. We came to no conclusions at the workshop, and I think it will be a while before the tree completes a radical transformation. When it does, I’ll be sure to get photos.
That same afternoon, a small, bunjin red pine was in the workshop. It’s a really neat tree with many alternative fronts.
Bunjin red pine – current front
The trunk line from this side would make a challenging front.
Another possible “front”
And another – currently the back of the tree
The view from the current left side of the tree
Planting angle is an important consideration for trees with such great trunk-lines. A subtle tilt one way or the other can have a big impact.
A bit to the right
A bit to the left
Even more to the left
I’m not sure if I have favorites among the above alternatives. What I like is that the tree has great character – and great possibilities if one tires of the current configuration.
Both trees were exhibited at the 2009 Bay Island Bonsai Exhibit – have a look!
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Jonas, Like you said this tree has tons of character and looks good from many angles. One question for you….any thoughts about bringing the apex more directly over the base?
Hi Graham – good question. I think the tree will look good with the apex in a number of locations as long as there’s good balance with the branches, and a clear sense of flow. I’m expecting the tree to improve along these lines during the next styling.
Farhan Malik says
My preference would be for the ‘A bit to the left’ option. This view seems to make the tree appear a bit more dynamic.
Fr. Tom Davis says
I also like the “a bit to the left” choice. I’ve sent you an email with a picture I redid showing with some wiring/shaping my idea for it.
I love redoing bonsai pictures in Photoshop to see and visualize other possibilities.
If you’d like, please share the picture I emailed.
Sam Edge says
I agree a bit to the left would add more balance to the tree. In the current potting, it appears the tree is off-balance, as if it is about to fall over.
Regardless, Jonas a nice tree and from the photo a very healthy black pine.
Chris Pogliano says
I think the back could be worked into a good front. Hard for me to tell from just a picture though. I feel the top would come a little more forward and engage my attention more. For the tilt pictures, I also like the little to the left picture.
John Kirby says
Interesting discussion. We have often looked at this tree and tried to “redesign it”. The tree was originally designed with the current front as its front, I was drawn to the visible “3” in the trunk, and we worked to make the tree more compact. In 2008 Mike Hagedorn redesigned the tree to make the current “back” the front. He did a very, very, fine job and it was a great success. When I prepared to show the tree in 2009, Boon and I went back to the original front, moved the apex a bit to make it work and have continued using it as the front. As with all things with multiple options, there has been a good debate as to what is the best front for the little red pine. When you see the tree in person, the current front truly works, it has always been a little static in photos, but the movement is really dynamic. Part of the fun, who knows it may get redesigned sooner than later, maybe not.
The apex will shift back a little to the left when repotted in a couple of weeks. John
View Fr. Tom’s take on the tree here (I adjusted the pot):
Alex V says
Pictures really don’t capture this tree well. In pics I feel like it is off balance with the current front, but that goes away when I am actually looking at it in person. I am intrigued by the slightly to the left photo, but I would have to see how that changes the tree in person. I like the vert, but think it brings the tree up too vertical, and while it looks nice, it looks like many other trees, while in its current state it is very unique.
This is one of my favorite trees to imagine in a different position. Great post Jonas!