This past weekend marked Redwood Empire Bonsai Society’s 33rd annual show. As always, the event was a big success as enthusiasts from up and down the west coast came to appreciate the bonsai on display.
Below is a small selection of this year’s trees, starting with a California juniper styled by Peter Tea.
It’s a beautiful tree, and the work looks great. More specifically: the foliage is healthy and dark green; the density is good from top to bottom; the tree is well-prepared for exhibit (clean deadwood, clear lifeline); and the styling looks great.
How to improve a tree like this in the future? Keep up the good work. Over time the branch pads will continue to mature and begin to convey the great age that we see in the deadwood. A less-formal and slightly-smaller pot could make the tree look bigger and complement the soft curves in the trunk and in the silhouette.
Good Korean hornbeam bonsai have interesting trunks. Peering beneath the foliage of this specimen reveals multiple trunks with the white bark and angular movement characteristic of the variety.
The atlas cedar below is very well shaped. The largest branches are at the bottom, and the gaps between branches shrink towards the top. Branch angle is consistent from top to bottom and the bottoms of the branch pads are clean.
I think of coast redwood as a wildcard bonsai variety. Some of the most compelling specimens don’t suggest slender giants but instead convey character through interesting shapes and deadwood design. The redwood below is a good example of this.
Sierra junipers, on the other hand, are bonsai presented at actual size and in the style they are known for in their high Sierra environment. Here’s a powerful example with lots of deadwood.
The Sierra juniper below is much smaller. I find the tree compelling because it has interesting movement and deadwood. This tree will improve greatly as the foliage forms dense, discrete pads that complement the movement of the trunk.
Pyracantha bonsai is great for adding color to an exhibit. The specimen below has good twisty movement from the base of the trunk to the end of each cascading branch.
Good root-over-rock bonsai is hard to find. The quality of the rock is important, as is the character of the roots. Note how the roots follow the contours of the stone on which they are fixed without following straight lines.
The olive below is a good argument for making more olive bonsai. The branches ramify quickly, the leaf size shrinks with little effort, and the trunk begins to show age after relatively short cultivation as bonsai.
Atlas cedar is a very malleable species. As such, we expect bonsai specimens to have a good silhouette. The semi-cascade specimen below looks good – and is that a pot by Michael Hagedorn?
For REBS members and event regulars, the presence of Frank Bardella was dearly missed this year. Frank made the club one of the strongest bonsai organizations in Northern California and grew the show into one of the biggest and best on the West Coast. Frank passed away in March (see brief obituary).