Larch group

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Larch group

Post  Richard S on Sat Mar 07, 2015 4:53 pm

I've had these Larch knocking about for a while now and I'd originally hoped they'd form part of a bigger group/forest but I've been struggling to source additional trees in a suitable size.

A few days ago I noticed that the buds were changing colour so I decided I'd better do something with them now or they'd be staying in their plastic plant pots for another year.

These are the trees in question. I partially wired them but left the tops free so I could more easily adjust the height if need be.



Having decided on what I felt was the best arrangement of the three trees I raked out the old soil and attempted to wire them into their new pot. This was where the fun really began Rolling Eyes . Lets just say that the roots were not arranged in a manner conducive to being secured in a fairly shallow bonsai container.

You can't see it in the photos but there's a wide selection of wedges, sticks and other bits and pieces under the surface trying to prop these trees up (and a rather large rock, the top of which you can see;) ).

All of this fun and games took a lot longer than I'd expected and I wasn't entirely sure it had been worth the effort. The whole thing looked rather rough if I'm honest.



I watered the trees, put them out on the bench and went inside for a beer!

The next day (yesterday) I decided to see if I couldn't improve the image a bit (without removing the trees and starting again) so I wired, pruned and pulled the wonky trunks into a orderly fashion using guy wires. I was rather happier with the look by the time I was finished so I added some moss and took another photo.



This is my first attempt at a group planting and given the trouble I had getting trees to even stand upright I'm fairly happy with it. I know that the two smaller trees are rather similar in height now but future growth will hopefully take care of that. I'm also considering removal of the lowest branches on the right hand tree.

What do you think?

Constructive criticism always welcome.

Regards

Richard

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Re: Larch group

Post  AlainK on Sat Mar 07, 2015 4:58 pm

I like it a lot. I think it's a good idea to place a stone between the two trees that have roots mainly on one side.

To me, it's a very well-balanced design.

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Re: Larch group

Post  Richard S on Sat Mar 07, 2015 5:03 pm

Thanks Alain, that's appreciated.

Regards

Richard

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Re: Larch group

Post  BobbyLane on Sat Mar 07, 2015 6:47 pm

Its hard to get depth in a group of three but i think you've done it quite well, i'd keep looking for more material to improve the numbers...
I think the main tree is a little tall.

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Re: Larch group

Post  LanceMac10 on Sat Mar 07, 2015 7:33 pm

Really strong results for your first effort!! Much, much better than my first attempt at it. My only critique would be the two large branches you've wired on the main tree. They appear to cross the sightline of both secondary trunks. They don't seem to match up with the look of all the other branches that have great scale relative to your design. Perhaps you could think about using some deadwood techniques on them? Please update when you have bud-break, larches really look wonderful, and I think there best, in early spring. Don't you agree. And one thing is for sure, although I never met him in person, whenever I see a larch or in fact my own tamarack, I'll always think of arihato. I think that's a wonderful legacy to leave behind.

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Re: Larch group

Post  AlainK on Sun Mar 08, 2015 3:21 am

LanceMac10 wrote:I'll always think of arihato. I think that's a wonderful legacy to leave behind.

Yeah, how can we talk about Larch without thinking of him...

I don't contibute so often here, and if it hadn't been because he was on my mind, i might not have posted. I feel i must carry on posting about Larch for he told us so much, and was such a nice person.

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Re: Larch group

Post  Richard S on Sun Mar 08, 2015 3:41 am

Thanks for the comments guys. All good constructive criticism which helps me a lot.


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Re: Larch group

Post  Zach Smith on Sun Mar 08, 2015 7:02 am

Richard S wrote:I've had these Larch knocking about for a while now and I'd originally hoped they'd form part of a bigger group/forest but I've been struggling to source additional trees in a suitable size.

A few days ago I noticed that the buds were changing colour so I decided I'd better do something with them now or they'd be staying in their plastic plant pots for another year.

These are the trees in question. I partially wired them but left the tops free so I could more easily adjust the height if need be.

Having decided on what I felt was the best arrangement of the three trees I raked out the old soil and attempted to wire them into their new pot. This was where the fun really began Rolling Eyes . Lets just say that the roots were not arranged in a manner conducive to being secured in a fairly shallow bonsai container.

You can't see it in the photos but there's a wide selection of wedges, sticks and other bits and pieces under the surface trying to prop these trees up (and a rather large rock, the top of which you can see;) ).

All of this fun and games took a lot longer than I'd expected and I wasn't entirely sure it had been worth the effort. The whole thing looked rather rough if I'm honest.

I watered the trees, put them out on the bench and went inside for a beer!

The next day (yesterday) I decided to see if I couldn't improve the image a bit (without removing the trees and starting again) so I wired, pruned and pulled the wonky trunks into a orderly fashion using guy wires. I was rather happier with the look by the time I was finished so I added some moss and took another photo.

This is my first attempt at a group planting and given the trouble I had getting trees to even stand upright I'm fairly happy with it. I know that the two smaller trees are rather similar in height now but future growth will hopefully take care of that. I'm also considering removal of the lowest branches on the right hand tree.

What do you think?

Constructive criticism always welcome.

Regards

Richard
I would make only one recommendation: you need to remove lower branches from the largest and second largest trees in order to make your forest more believable.  The lowest branch(es) should be on the smallest tree, then the next lowest branches on the next smallest tree, and so forth.

For what it's worth.

Very nice group!

Zach

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Re: Larch group

Post  Richard S on Sun Mar 08, 2015 3:40 pm

Thanks Zach, that makes sense. I was thinking of removing the lowest branches on the right hand trunk anyway.

Thanks again to everyone who's commented. I'm not a member of a club or group and I don't have any "bonsai friends" Sad so this kind of forum feed back is very helpful.

Cheers

Richard


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Re: Larch group

Post  dick benbow on Sun Mar 08, 2015 10:55 pm

Please keep in mind that bonsai is a hobby that can span generations. While it's nice to have everything in balance and all the rules aghered to, trees have a way
of dictating what next must be done. So my advice is to keep and open mind about the journey these trees will take under your care.

With Japanese larch, I've always had tuff luck with them dropping critical limbs for design elements.

I'm hopeful to be able to yamadori a few western larch from the mountains this year and try again working with native trees. They're rougher in appearance but
determined to try.

When it came to larches, Nick Lenz always had my attention.

Thanks for sharing.....

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Re: Larch group

Post  Richard S on Sat Apr 11, 2015 5:44 am

Well, spring has definitely sprung out here in the East of England.

So here's a quick update on my Larch group which is now enthusiastically pushing out needles from pretty much every bud on all three trees.



So far so good, here's to the future!

Cheers

Richard

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Re: Larch group

Post  NickJ on Sun Apr 12, 2015 5:28 am

I like that a lot, it's hard to get 3 trees to look 'right' for want of a better word but I think you've done it well.  I love how Larch look in groups Smile
I hear you on the trees not wanting to adhere to your idea too, my first group planting was (and still is) looking rough as you put it!

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Re: Larch group

Post  coh on Sun Apr 12, 2015 7:42 am

I like it, but don't know if that sudden bend near the top of the largest tree will ever look "right", especially with the rest of that trunk being so straight. I think you'd be better off by removing that section and training up a new branch from the front of the trunk for the new leader, if you want it to be that tall.

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Re: Larch group

Post  kevin stoeveken on Mon Apr 13, 2015 1:10 am

damn good... first attempt or not...

one thing i read in an older book about creating forests and groups is to create muck balls out of peat and wrap the roots in that which then holds the trees upright and in place while you fiddle about with placement... if i recall correctly, the muck balls even negated the need for wiring the trees in... and as time goes on, the roots make their way out of the muck balls and into each other embrace, thus securing it for the future,,,

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Re: Larch group

Post  JimLewis on Mon Apr 13, 2015 1:52 am

I'm sure he will cut that top a wee bit shorter after it starts filling out.  At that point the bend will scarcely be noticed.

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Re: Larch group

Post  Richard S on Mon Apr 13, 2015 5:47 am

Thanks for the comments guys.

Regarding the height of the main tree I agree that it's a bit tall. This is one of those things which is a lot more obvious in a photo than on the bench as it were. Reducing the height of the main tree would also help re-balance the three (in terms of height) as I shortened the second tree a bit more than originally planned in the final styling.

Still, it's a work in progress (aren't they all) and at this stage I'm quite happy with it.

Kevin, I hadn't heard of using muck balls in the manner you describe but I can imagine that it might work. I know some people recommend building a grid of sticks in the bottom of the pot and then securing the trees to this rather then by traditional wiring. I didn't do this but still ended up having to insert a number of objects (sticks, blocks and a rock) to brace the trees so perhaps I should have done.

Oh, well you live and learn.

Regards

Richard


PS my local bonsai nursery has recently obtained a couple of hundred more larch (some much thicker than these) so another larch group may be on the cards next spring.

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