Late last year, I brought my red pine forest in to a workshop with Daisaku Nomoto to see about preparing it for show. To my surprise, Nomoto was more concerned with the way the group was planted than he was with the branches. A repotting was in order.
Nomoto’s chief comment was that he didn’t like that the trees were all planted on the same level. The tallest tree, he thought, should be planted about an inch higher. The rest of the trees were in roughly the right places. To raise the main tree, I disassembled the forest.
Red pine forest
I hadn’t repotted the group since I’d first assembled it. In the intervening years, the roots had grown into a solid block.
Like one big tree
I next sawed out each of the trees, trying, as I worked, to preserve as many roots on each as possible.
The first tree separated
Another tree on its own
This block was left as a unit
The forest components ready for reassembly
We used the same pot as it was a good size for the group. After cleaning it and adding screen and wire, Nomoto added a drainage layer of medium-sized pumice.
Patting down the drainage layer
The assembly process involved a number of hands and wires as the tall trees were tippy.
Nomoto lining up the trunks
Beginning to wire the clumps in place
Along the way, one of the trunks lost its place in the group. Right at the center of the composition, this trunk pointed in the wrong direction. We removed the top and jinned the rest.
One less trunk
Once the trees were in place, I watered and added moss.
As exhibited at BIB’s 14th annual exhibit
The final composition turned out remarkably similar to the starting point.
Front – before
Front – after
Each trunk sits at a slightly different height and angle and the main tree is now raised up a bit. The trunk we removed is now a prominent jin at the center of the group, but this will be less apparent as the foliage continues to develop – the main task for the next few years.
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