In 2002, I visited the Bonsai Society of Dallas convention featuring Masahiko Kimura. The event’s exhibit included a composition that got a lot more attention than the others. Thirteen years later, I spotted the same composition in its creator’s garden.
Shimpaku planted on shovel supported by cinder block
The artist is Greg Brenden. You may know of Greg from his site, brendenstudio. Greg is a lifelong artist with many years’ experience in bonsai and an unparalleled knack for creative compositions.
Procumbens planted on upside-down shovel
I can’t say whether these are the shovels that were used to dig these trees – that would be something – but I can say that they reflect Greg’s ability to see beyond the intended use of things and view them as objects that can be put to any variety of uses.
Looking past the containers for a moment, Greg is a serious student of bonsai with some awesome trees in his collection. Take, for example, the Southwestern white pine he showed in the 2010 National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester, NY.
Southwestern white pine
More great, natural, deadwood
Today the tree is in a large pot by Ron Lang. That wasn’t always the case – for more information about the tree and the trials it experienced on the way to the National Bonsai Exhibition, see Greg’s post, “New Digs for an Old Pine.”
Perusing the trees in the garden was particularly fun because what at first seemed like normal objects quickly revealed themselves as something else entirely. While making the photograph below, something about the container caught my eye.
It’s planted on a cement meter cover, one of several in the garden.
Pine on cement meter lid
An accent plant showed up in a light fixture from an old automobile.
Shimpaku on cement block
Not all of Greg’s containers, however, broke convention. In fact, I recognized many from the kiln of Michael Hagedorn, a longtime friend of Greg’s.
Oval pot by Michael Hagedorn
Round pot by Michael Hagedorn
Round pot by Michael Hagedorn resting on metal meter cover
Greg’s eye for good bonsai material was evident throughout the garden. Both the mature trees and the newer collected material caught my attention.
Common juniper – super trunk
Rocky Mountain juniper
Japanese maple grove
Shohin Japanese maple
If you haven’t done so already, do check out brendenstudio – it’s well worth a visit!
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