Last weekend the Redwood Empire Bonsai Society held their 31st Annual show in Santa Rosa, California. Following recent tradition, it was their best show to date. What stood out to me? Many things! Above all else, I’m impressed by how much effort has gone into creating the trees on display. The cork oak below is a good example – it was developed from acorn for 46 years!
The trunk has good taper and movement, the silhouette is full, and no significant scars distract the from the overall effect – it’s a well-developed bonsai.
Other trees developed over much longer periods of time in nature but have developed quickly as bonsai. The Sierra juniper grafted with shimpaku foliage below is a good example. While the branches are relatively young compared with the trunk, the foliage creates an interesting effect and the tree is full and healthy. As time goes by these branches will develop more and more character and make a great compliment to the natural deadwood.
Sierra juniper grafted with shimpaku foliage
It’s this kind of effort that increases the total number of trees in the community and keeps exhibits interesting – for this, thanks REBS!
The show also featured a number of the club’s namesake coast redwoods. While redwood bonsai doesn’t always – or often – represent miniature versions of large trees, the variety is good at exhibiting characteristics like interesting deadwood that we often prize in bonsai.
Coast redwood – great deadwood
The show also featured a number of trees that made me think about balance. The prostrata juniper below was one of my favorites because the trunk and foliage design make for a dynamic composition.
Prostrata juniper – 72 years
Likewise the shimpaku below. The tree points unambiguously left but provides both interest and movement.
Shimpaku – 18 years in training
The cedar below points in the opposite direction. It’s age is starting to show in a good way in that fissures are opening up along the trunk and main branches.
As another reminder of the locale, the REBS show featured a large Zinfandel vine over 100 years old. The trunk evokes great age and the fruit indicate the season. And somehow the foliage looks fresh and new – quite a feat for late August.
100+ year-old Zinfandel
Among the more playful trees in the exhibit is the shimpaku below. I couldn’t find a straight branch on the tree. It’s also a great example of the basic design principal of course to fine. From the base of the trunk to the ends of the branches the wood gets thinner and thinner with good movement along the way. And as the foliage is still relatively young, these branches too will become more compelling with time.
It was easy to appreciate the large deciduous specimens – a good counter-balance to the many conifers in the exhibit.
Trident maple – 50+ years
And these were just a few of my favorite trees from the exhibit – more from the show coming soon!
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