Although Kimura is best known for juniper bonsai, his pine work is very good. The black pine below, for example, took the top prize at the 2015 Taikan-ten exhibit in Kyoto, Japan.
The tree is imposing – large trunk, full canopy – and has clear movement to the right side with the apex and key branch both pointing right. What the tree doesn’t have is outstanding bark. Pines are one of a small number of varieties that can form deep plates of bark that convey the tree’s age and character. The bark here is good, but not great.
The white pine above has strong movement, first to the left, then decidedly to the right. The foliage pads are fairly balanced. Were a mirror image of the trunk below the foliage, the balance would be just as good.
The tree also has good deadwood – a more common trait on white pine than on black. The rotten sections add interest as do small jin higher up.
In stark contrast to the white pine above, the black pine below has subtle movement. Like the first black pine, it is massive. The trunk is large and the canopy is full. It moves gently to the left.
Were I to ask what your favorite aspect of this tree is, what would come to mind?
Japanese black pine
If you find unique character to be important in bonsai, the red pine below might appeal to you. It received the Kokufu prize in 2014. The movement in the lower part of the trunk is fascinating – good luck trying to follow the trunk line from the photo. Just above the trunk, however, is a very conventional crown with less clearly defined branch pads.
I’ve found over the years that bonsai integrating the foliage with the key areas of interest are the ones that most appeal to me. I’m a big fan of this tree, but seeing it always makes me curious how the foliage might be arranged to better complement the wild turns and deadwood in the trunk.
Amazing red pine
Countdown to the U.S. National Exhibit: 1 Day
The U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester, New York, is tomorrow! I’ll have trees, tools, pots, books and supplies available at the event, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing everyone of you that gets a chance to stop by and say hi. I’m looking forward to meeting you – safe travels!
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