Yesterday I styled my first stock tree. I know this sound a bit weird. I am currently busy preparing stock that I will be selling in a few years time. This can be four year or even more depending on the environment and the growth rate of the different tree species. I will be showing how I transformed this nursery plant into a potential bonsai or as we say in our club “potensai”.
This was the tree before I started to work on it.
Please note that this tree was picked from a bunch of other trees that was for sale at the nursery. I looked for trees that had nice thick trunks and that had growth close to the trunk. The tree that I worked on was very dense. I could only see the trunk and one branch when I started.
I think for me not knowing what is under the dense canopy is part of what makes styling new trees interesting. Before I started with this tree I lifted the branches and took a peek under the canopy just to see what I had to work with. I started by placing the lowest branches first and then I moved my way up the tree. The first two branches was already in place I just needed to adjust them to the angle I choose for the tree.
This was after I choose the front of the tree and the best movement in the trunk line. Lucky for me the tree had some nice movement in the trunk and I just needed to frame the trunk movement. The next two branches where a bit more tricky because they came from the same place on the trunk. This is common with these type of juniper as they grow long branches that reach far and bend down towards the ground. They bud back to where the branches stem out of the trunk thus you have multiple branches that originate from the same spot. They also have this amazing curves and bends in the branches as young shoots grow up and the weight of the long branches forces the branches down.
This is a view from the back of the tree and here you can see that the branches come from the same place. I must say that a design like this may be frowned upon by others but no tree is perfect. If you view the tree from the front you will see that I covered up the part where the second and third branch meets at the trunk with a small branch that I angle just so that it covers the trunk. This is fine to do with junipers and other evergreen species but I would not do this with deciduous trees. The reason is simple with evergreens the branches are always covered with foliage and you do not see too much of the trunk and branches. On deciduous trees on the other hand you will see the structure of the trees during winter(during the dormant period). In the photo below you will see the “cover up” more clearly.
Like with every other bonsai design we as the artist need to create the illusion that everything is in proportion so that the bigger design works. We do this by designing trees to look bigger than they are and by making our designs feel like everything is in balance. Above you will see the tree from above. The branches spiral out in all directions so that all of them can get sunlight. None of them are shaded by branches above.
If you looked at the two photos above you can see that the trees apex leans forward. The deadwood branch that you see in the photo is the back of the tree. By leaning forward the viewer feels like he is standing below the tree looking up. This makes the tree appear bigger than it is.
Here is a short time-lapse of the trees styling.
This was a very easy tree to style which brings me to the point that when choosing trees to work on you need make sure that you look for the following things:
- a thick trunk
- trunk line with movement
- tapering trunk (thickest part at the base and thinnest part at the apex of the tree)
- small compact tree
- a tree with a lot of foliage close to the trunk
- healthy looking tree
- tree with small leaves
- something that grows good in you region
By choosing a tree with these features you might be able to get good developed on your tree in no time. I must say then you still new to bonsai and you love designing new trees the urge to buy trees is something that not many can fight off. I know because I have trees that have been with me for years but yet they still have a long way to go. There is no real value in getting tree just to keep yourself busy. If you get a good base and start working from there you will be better off then starting from a twig.
Hope you enjoyed reading this blog. Please feel free to leave your comments below.