Variegated foliage for Bonsai?

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Variegated foliage for Bonsai?

Post  Rick36 on Thu Jul 19, 2012 3:25 pm

Poink88 asked recently about a variegated Ligustrum. I have read occasionally that variegated foliage does not make good bonsai. Is this just personal preference or aesthetics generally? I'd like to try with a large Hedera Canariensis acquired recently (and which is backbudding at a rate of knots), but would like to hear some comments first. Cheers. Rick.

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Re: Variegated foliage for Bonsai?

Post  JimLewis on Thu Jul 19, 2012 4:06 pm

VERY generally speaking, the variegated varieties of any tree/shrub are less hardy (heat OR cold). Also, excessive trimming and pruning often will cause them to revert to type.

And, as far as I am concerned, since variegated trees aren't normally found "in nature" I don't find them to be attractive as bonsai.

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Re: Variegated foliage for Bonsai?

Post  drgonzo on Thu Jul 19, 2012 4:09 pm

Rick36 wrote: I have read occasionally that variegated foliage does not make good bonsai. Is this just personal preference or aesthetics generally?

Variegated foliage can lead to a tree that is "slightly" weaker or slower due to there being less chlorophyll in the leaves, makes sense.

I used to over look variegation, and variegated cultivars, believing that it would never make a convincing bonsai. Well if by 'convincing bonsai' you mean a tree that identically mimics what you would find in nature then, yes. We don't usually see large variegated trees in a forest or meadow setting.

Then I met Oridono Nishiki.

Now I have actually begun to collect variegated cultivars. I look at them knowing it won't ever make a "real" looking miniature tree and so I am free to focus more on the artistic aspect of styling. I am enjoying the challenge of trying to match a pot color to a highly variegated tree, and trying to sculpt a tree that will be in harmony with all these excellent changing colors...truly they have allowed me to peruse the art aspect of the hobby....in the case of the Nishiki I have chosen a more whimsical approach and decided to semi-weep the tree...

In short, my variegated maples have now come to be my favorite trees...I think that says it all.

-Jay




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Re: Variegated foliage for Bonsai?

Post  Poink88 on Thu Jul 19, 2012 4:11 pm

JimLewis wrote:And, as far as I am concerned, since variegated trees aren't normally found "in nature" I don't find them to be attractive as bonsai.
I feel the same way.

Rick, I also did not collect those bushes because of the wrong time, distance of the collection site from me, etc. I just felt the effort is not worth it.

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Re: Variegated foliage for Bonsai?

Post  Mitch Thomas on Thu Jul 19, 2012 4:11 pm

IMHO
Yes you can bonsai a verrigated tree, but I think the ones I have seen always look sickly. Consistent foliage color looks more pleasing, to my taste anyway.

Mitch

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Re: Variegated foliage for Bonsai?

Post  drgonzo on Thu Jul 19, 2012 4:32 pm

Here is my Oridono Nishiki Japanese Maple this morning. It was defoliated several weeks ago, branches thinned and wired. The tree is many years away from presentable as I only acquired it a few months ago at the BSUNY show. At that time it was a bush and needed to be brought back to bare bones.

The picture doesn't do the foliage justice as the colors change from hot pink/cream, to purple/orange then settle down to green and white with pink stripes on the bark and pink twigs! Like a gentleman who preffers Blondes then you meet that ONE special Brunette....and fall in love Razz




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Re: Variegated foliage for Bonsai?

Post  JMcCoy on Thu Jul 19, 2012 5:59 pm

I think variegation can add some light to the look. People say that it's not a color found in large trees, but then we're making art with the material we have, so you can look at it a different way. Variegated leaves can give the look of dappled light hitting the tree or sparkles of sunlight or dew. Here is a variegated Ligustrum sinensis I collected many years ago, trained in a weeping form. I think the light parts add to the tree, not detract.


Dario, I wish I had seen your posting about the possible collecting opportunity. It's exactly the wrong time to collect, but if the trunks were nice and it was now or never....

Jay- beautiful maple! The pink gives it a feminine whimsical look. It can be appreciated just like a flowering tree.


Last edited by JMcCoy on Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:30 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Variegated foliage for Bonsai?

Post  coh on Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:22 pm

Jay, that maple looks pretty nice (is that the one from Ken?). Do you have a photo before you worked on it, from the old front? I don't remember how it looked...

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Re: Variegated foliage for Bonsai?

Post  Rick36 on Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:53 pm

Jim, Mitch, Joey, Poink, - Thankyou for your input. I think similarly, and then again.........

Ah! Jay!! If only I was in my thirties again, your analogy would be so appealing! Nowadays I get ecstatic over three meals a day on time! She certainly has a pretty dress, your little brunette. What happens when the next blonde comes along? "Ah! yes, I remember it well".
I guess the answer is to have an a) collection and a b) collection, and since the raw material seems to be a big old battle-axe, I'll stick with her for a while - at least until breakfast.
Just for interest here she is - partly clothed!! Cheers. Rick.


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Re: Variegated foliage for Bonsai?

Post  marcus watts on Thu Jul 19, 2012 7:30 pm

mmmmmmm, its a very personal choice

Jays variagated acer looks good, but we accept and enjoy the colour changes on an acer - and pink/yellow is a pleasing combo, to me i dont even think of it as variagated.

green/yellow does look sick, faded, even mis-shapen, and i personally dont go for them - not as bonsai or even growing in the garden. But it is just personal, there is nothing wrong with them at all.

cheers Marcus

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Re: Variegated foliage for Bonsai?

Post  Rick36 on Thu Jul 19, 2012 8:06 pm

Marcus . Well, that's what I was looking for - personal and expert opinion. She'll have to be a potted tree of some description; I just don't know what. Back to the drawing board! Cheers. Rick.

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Variegated Trees

Post  bonsaisr on Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:00 pm

Variegated trees are generally not found in nature. They are found in places like Narnia and Hogwarts.
If you want to try a variegated maple, start with 'Butterfly.' It is not particularly great as a bonsai, but it is tough as nails and would be good to practice on.
Iris

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Re: Variegated foliage for Bonsai?

Post  drgonzo on Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:29 pm

coh wrote:Jay, that maple looks pretty nice (is that the one from Ken?). Do you have a photo before you worked on it, from the old front? I don't remember how it looked...

Yes Chris, thats the tree Ken had hidden in the corner. I wish I had a sunny day and a better camera as the tree nearly glows in the sun. I'm terrible at progression photos so I don't have a "before" picture of the tree.

I think in this case, with this Oridono Nishiki, its just so crazy with its coloring that it's definitely along the lines of a fairy tale tree..and why not? I adore the coloring. No two leaves the same. What I don't adore is the cobalt blue pot I stuck it in...it's going to get a muted Ivory pot in spring.

@Rick...The Blonde came along only a few weeks after I bought the brunette, in the form of a Goshiki Kaede shohin Trident. Luckily they don't fight over my attentions. I love them both equally.

Also as Marcus mentions we have some lee way with variegation with the Maples as they are such splendid and primarily feminine trees. Butterfly ,as Iris mentions, is an excellent cultivar in fact I believe Bill V. Keeps a small one himself.

-Jay

PS "Oridono Nishiki" means 'The Multicolored robe of the master'....and thats absolutely right!

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Re: Variegated foliage for Bonsai?

Post  Russell Coker on Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:53 pm



Rick and Joey, those are hideous abominations! They should be sent to me for immediate um... destruction, yes that's what I'll do...

I was flipping through a Japanese bonsai magazine the other evening and came across an amazing variegated elaeagnus. Since it was there I guess it didn't offend the publisher, and judging from the antique cobalt glazed Canton pot it was in the owner was mighty proud of it too.

A little variegation jazzes up a collection, just like it does a landscape. I wouldn't rule out a nice peice of material just because it was variegated.

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Re: Variegated foliage for Bonsai?

Post  William N. Valavanis on Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:23 am

I love variegated cultivars of many different species!

I believe the colorful foliage adds a special highlight to bonsai design.

The origin of many variegated plants IS nature, some from seedling selections and branch mutations. Variegated plants were in vogue in Japan in the early 1900s. In fact there are several old Japanese woodblock books all about variegated plants. There are also contemporary books on variegated plants too.

Star Jasmine, Silverberry, Japanese Andromeda, Chinese elm, Serissa, Pittosporum and other plants are commonly trained for bonsai, both in Japan and in the west.

I also agree that variegated plants are not as vigorous as those with green foliage. This also applies to other plants, like Japanese red maples. The common Japanese maple is far more vigorous than the cultivars with red or variegated or dissected foliage.

Attached is the beginnings of a Butterfly Japanese maple I'm training. It is just in the beginning stage of development and not ready for show yet, but I'd thought I'd share it. The angle of the first branch on the right is problematic, but in time I can figure out how to correct it.

I hope others will post photo of their variegated bonsai.

Bill


Butterfly Japanese maple

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Re: Variegated foliage for Bonsai?

Post  Steven on Fri Jul 20, 2012 1:10 am

drgonzo wrote:Here is my Oridono Nishiki Japanese Maple this morning. It was defoliated several weeks ago, branches thinned and wired. The tree is many years away from presentable as I only acquired it a few months ago at the BSUNY show. At that time it was a bush and needed to be brought back to bare bones.

The picture doesn't do the foliage justice as the colors change from hot pink/cream, to purple/orange then settle down to green and white with pink stripes on the bark and pink twigs! Like a gentleman who preffers Blondes then you meet that ONE special Brunette....and fall in love Razz





Jay,

One of my favorite Cultivars of maples (have a few smaller grafted growing out now) cant wait to see how it progresses as it has a sold looking foundation.

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Re: Variegated foliage for Bonsai?

Post  Mitch Thomas on Fri Jul 20, 2012 1:35 am

I stand corrected! Very nice trees all!

Mitch

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Re: Variegated foliage for Bonsai?

Post  drgonzo on Fri Jul 20, 2012 2:17 am

Thank you Steven, you're very gracious.

The tree obviously has many years of work ahead but Its a diamond in the rough and was irresistible when I saw it. When the new growth came in after the defoliation I was even more taken with the colors. The tree is a graft and an excellent one at that probably the best I've seen and as such is a very vigorous grower.

Bill's Butterfly maple was probably the first variegated maple trained for bonsai that I had ever seen in person and gave me confidence to explore them on my own. I also have my eyes on a variegated river Birch at a local nursery, maybe I should just break down and go get the thing before it walks..

When my Goshiki Kaede finishes growing in its new leaves I'll post a pic of that little guy, again its a white, pink, green, semi-yellow, semi green mix.

-Jay

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Re: Variegated foliage for Bonsai?

Post  coh on Fri Jul 20, 2012 3:01 am

drgonzo wrote:I also have my eyes on a variegated river Birch at a local nursery, maybe I should just break down and go get the thing before it walks..
-Jay

Mayflower, per chance? Hmm, I'm going to be down there on Tuesday, you better get there before then!

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Re: Variegated foliage for Bonsai?

Post  Rick36 on Fri Jul 20, 2012 10:48 am

Interesting!!
Iris - Now there's food for thought........
Bill - Article? Series? "Trees of Narnia" "Magical Maples of Hogwarts" "Bonsai of Brigadoon" (Check with Fiona - she may wish to comment, especially on her namesake in Brigadoon!).
Joey - I see your little "ballerina" -shown in this thread - as a leading player in the article. Check with Editor!
To me she is beautiful.
Lighthearted? Maybe, but there's room for that, isn't there? As long as it doesn't detract from the real "Art".
Russell - could you offer a few pointers as to how you would "-um, destroy", my old battleaxe? She is in real need of help!
Cheers. Rick.

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Re: Variegated foliage for Bonsai?

Post  Russell Coker on Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:50 pm

Haha, Rick, sorry you're on you own there. I don't have any experience in the battleax department.

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Re: Variegated foliage for Bonsai?

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