The most compelling aspects of bonsai are often out of our control. This is true for both deadwood and movement – a tree either has them or it doesn’t. While hand-carved deadwood and manufactured movement can be both beautiful and artistic, it’s hard to compete with nature.
Branch on a dead lodge pole pine
When it comes to deadwood, only age can produce the texture, color and detail we see on old trees living in harsh conditions.
It would be very difficult to produce the delicate detail that results from exposure to the elements over time. For this reason, natural deadwood is often prized above man-made deadwood.
Much of the same can be said of a tree’s movement. Together, weather, wind and water, with help from sand, snow and ice, can produce beautiful effects.
Sierra juniper foliage
Junipers and deadwood
Over time, nature can produce novel combinations of movement and deadwood. Some are extreme.
Massive trunks support soft foliage
Others combinations are more lyrical.
A twisting branch
Stepping back a bit, we can find beautiful patterns in branches of similar age bending at similar angles.
Just as often, inconsistent bends can produce equally beautiful results.
The harshest conditions can produce wild results.
Deadwood formed by many years of harsh existence
This results in trees that convey their response to the environment. Few varieties do this as well as junipers.