First Styling for Me and the Tree

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First Styling for Me and the Tree

Post  Intricate Simplicity on Sun Oct 18, 2015 11:44 pm

Hi all, hope you've enjoyed your weekend!

So a while back I started the hobby with a "pre bonsai" that I bought from a bonsai nursery. Unfortunately, I became busy and distracted and it passed on to bonsai heaven out of SEVERE neglect (rest in peace juniper).

I did finally bit the bullet and decided to go all the way in recently. I picked up some tools, wiring, fertilizer and some pots and went to a workshop at a local bonsai shop (with a very knowledgable and nice instructor) for pruning, pinching and wiring. I plan on going back soon to the aging technique workshop (shari and jin carving, etc). Anyways, I picked up a juniper from the home improvement store on clearance (I wanted to see a true transformation and feel some accomplishment).

This is the plant before any changes were made



And this is what I trimmed and trained it to now:



I realize it is a bit drastic, but I hope to learn more and obviously this a very patient art so I'm fine with that Smile. I hope to encourage a lot more foliage growth and develop the nebari as well before I do too much work on styling. More than anything I just want to help it survive the winter and see how much it likes its training pot. If anyone here has any questions or advice I'd appreciate it all. I will update this occasionally as there is progress on the tree.

Kind Regards,
Zach

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Re: First Styling for Me and the Tree

Post  kevin stoeveken on Mon Oct 19, 2015 12:41 pm

as i come up on the end of my 4th growing season, and looking back on my mistakes, the one thing i wish i would have concentrated more on at first, rather than styling, would be learning how to actually grow these trees in these little pots...

btw

best avatar

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Re: First Styling for Me and the Tree

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Mon Oct 19, 2015 4:05 pm

Ah Kevin,

you have done it!!!

Rule of Bonsai - 3 to 5 years of basic Horticulture, how to grow and keep healthy - congrats!!
and being able to admit it - wow.

Second Rule, over 10 years needed to style and compose - hint - if you have not done so, take some Art Classes, but I do remember your work on Etsy, so it should be easy peasy for you.

In admiration.
Khaimraj

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Re: First Styling for Me and the Tree

Post  kevin stoeveken on Mon Oct 19, 2015 4:31 pm

sorry khai... no time for art classes... nor much desire Wink

some simple basics of 3rds, empty space, etc will have to do...

Khaimraj Seepersad wrote:Rule of Bonsai - 3 to 5 years of basic Horticulture, how to grow and keep healthy - congrats!!
and being able to admit it - wow.

i find it easier to admit something rather than have someone else point it out to me...
(it stings alot less)

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Re: First Styling for Me and the Tree

Post  Intricate Simplicity on Mon Oct 19, 2015 5:52 pm

beer city snake wrote:as i come up on the end of my 4th growing season, and looking back on my mistakes, the one thing i wish i would have concentrated more on at first, rather than styling, would be learning how to actually grow these trees in these little pots...

btw

best avatar

ever.


I completely agree on the fact that horticulture is of primary importance in the art; it's a little difficult to train a dead bonsai Wink I just want to help it through the winter, which could be a challenge considering the recent root-pruning and repot (though the foliage was taken off roughly in proportion). So has it been a little difficult to find a method that works for you in keeping the trees healthy? Just curious based off of your comment.

Khaimraj Seepersad wrote:Ah  Kevin,

you have done it!!!

Rule of Bonsai - 3 to 5 years of basic Horticulture, how to grow and keep healthy - congrats!!
and being able to admit it - wow.

Second Rule, over 10 years needed to style and compose - hint - if you have not done so, take some Art Classes, but I do remember your work on Etsy, so it should be easy peasy for you.

In admiration.
Khaimraj

Should this be taken to mean that those are the lengths of time during one's lifetime it takes to get a semblance of understanding in those things or on a "per-tree" basis? The latter option doesn't feel as right, since so much can vary from tree to tree. Forgive my ramblings if this makes no sense.

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Re: First Styling for Me and the Tree

Post  kevin stoeveken on Mon Oct 19, 2015 6:10 pm

Intricate Simplicity wrote:
beer city snake wrote:as i come up on the end of my 4th growing season, and looking back on my mistakes, the one thing i wish i would have concentrated more on at first, rather than styling, would be learning how to actually grow these trees in these little pots...


I completely agree on the fact that horticulture is of primary importance in the art; it's a little difficult to train a dead bonsai Wink I just want to help it through the winter, which could be a challenge considering the recent root-pruning and repot (though the foliage was taken off roughly in proportion). So has it been a little difficult to find a method that works for you in keeping the trees healthy? Just curious based off of your comment.

only when i tried to do too much too soon... the first thing i learned the (hard way) was to not to do two major operations in one growing season (again: in general)... at least until you learn species specifics and after care...

i had this display in one of our club shows Rolling Eyes





needless to say, i have learned alot since then...

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Re: First Styling for Me and the Tree

Post  Intricate Simplicity on Mon Oct 19, 2015 7:27 pm

I see what you mean lol. "Too much too soon" exemplified, but it is always helpful to have bad examples.

They do say experience is the best teacher; so you could say the tree was a sacrificial lamb to better your skills!

Like in my other other hobbies: I pulled my back in the gym once and I'm better for it and I've crashed r/c helicopters too many times to count but I at least think I'm improving haha

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Re: First Styling for Me and the Tree

Post  Dave Leppo on Mon Oct 19, 2015 7:53 pm

i have found that one needs the proper quantity of trees. So you have something to work on when you want to/can, but you aren't forcing yourself to work on the same few trees too much. A very personal quantity, depending on the rest of your life (family, work, etc)

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Re: First Styling for Me and the Tree

Post  kevin stoeveken on Mon Oct 19, 2015 9:03 pm

spot-on, dave !

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Re: First Styling for Me and the Tree

Post  Intricate Simplicity on Mon Oct 19, 2015 9:54 pm

Dave Leppo wrote:i have found that one needs the proper quantity of trees.  So you have something to work on when you want to/can, but you aren't forcing yourself to work on the same few trees too much.  A very personal quantity, depending on the rest of your life (family, work, etc)

I wouldn't have thought to get more trees. Would three or four be a good starting number? I was of the mind that one tree would be good so I wouldn't be overwhelmed. Would it be best to stay with the same basic types of tree (not species necessarily, but hardy conifers in general- since that's what I'm used to) or try for variety?

Either way, I hate to say it but this is shaping up to be a colder autumn, so I may wait until spring (to be on the safe side) before I add anything more to my inventory.

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Re: First Styling for Me and the Tree

Post  leatherback on Tue Oct 20, 2015 7:27 am

I think you will find that with 4 trees you will -if you really get into this- be playing around too much with the plants. Most plants need, besides watering, only a few moments of attention each year. Some guestimates: Repotting (once every 1-5 years, depending on species and development), wiring (2-4 sessions per year, wiring & dewiring), trimming (Most species only 2-4 times a year). Estimation: 7 sessions of an hour or more per tree per year. So that would give you 28 sessions per year with 4 trees

To give you some idea: For me, the ideal number is about 50 mid-sized trees at the moment. I do not have kids, so I can easily spend some 10 hrs per week on my trees in spring/summer. Around bud-burst in spring this is not enough and I spend almost every minute. As my trees mature, I expect to drop a few and end up with some 40 trees. That gives me a balance between 'almost a tree that needs attention' and 'getting stressed out and not being able to manage'.

By the above estimates, 50 trees take 350 sessions, which makes it one session per day. Move that into the weekend, and I can spend both saturday and sunday a couple of hours on my trees without overworking any of them, nor really falling behing, most of the year. And if I do not have time in one week, the next I can still easily make up for it.

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Re: First Styling for Me and the Tree

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Tue Oct 20, 2015 11:18 am

We normally encourage 300 trees, and if you are studying a new species, at least 20.
As you reach understanding, just give way the rest.
Laters.
Khaimraj

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Re: First Styling for Me and the Tree

Post  Dave Leppo on Tue Oct 20, 2015 11:24 am

I have one wife, two small kids, and one full-time job. I have around 25 trees. Springtime can get hectic, and you have to prioritize a little.

As far as I know, coniferous vs deciduous: the coniferous take more lengthy sessions fewer times per year, deciduous take little tweeks all year long.

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Re: First Styling for Me and the Tree

Post  kevin stoeveken on Tue Oct 20, 2015 12:42 pm

yeah, once i realized that if i want to "do" something with trees, then i needed more trees...

but then i went too far in that extreme and ended up with over a hundred trees (many just sticks in pots, etc)

i have now been in the process of thinning the herd...

john geanangel told me its time to move from collectionitis to qualityitis Wink

i am now approaching what is a manageable collection with things to putter with as much as i want, but at times more than i would like... such as the spring repotting rush, but even that will ease up as my collection matures...

and no matter what, you will always be adding a tree and losing a tree here and there...

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Re: First Styling for Me and the Tree

Post  leatherback on Tue Oct 20, 2015 3:14 pm

beer city snake wrote:
john geanangel told me its time to move from collectionitis to qualityitis Wink
Nice way to put it

beer city snake wrote:
and no matter what, you will always be adding a tree and losing a tree here and there...

And when you do, at some point you should get to the stage where you can only bring a new tree in, if (Or better, after) you get rid of another. Here I try to adhere to the principle: Is what I am bringing in better than the tree leaving the set. If not, do not take it, even if it is a species you really want. A better tree will be available in time. That way you slowly improve the quality of the batch at home.

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Re: First Styling for Me and the Tree

Post  Intricate Simplicity on Tue Oct 20, 2015 4:55 pm

leatherback wrote:I think you will find that with...make up for it.

Thanks for the break-down; and wow you sound like you've got a handle on things. You have a good point that aside from watering and feeding, most of the time investment involved is only several times per tree over the year. And that said, it doesn't take too long to do each of those things once you gain some experience.

Dave Leppo wrote:I have one wife, two small kids, and one full-time job.  I have around 25 trees.  Springtime can get hectic, and you have to prioritize a little.

As far as I know, coniferous vs deciduous: the coniferous take more lengthy sessions fewer times per year, deciduous take little tweeks all year long.

Okay, thanks for the explanation on coniferous vs deciduous- that makes a lot of sense!

Khaimraj Seepersad wrote:We normally encourage 300 trees, and if you are studying a new species, at least 20.
As you reach understanding, just give way the rest.
Laters.
Khaimraj

beer city snake wrote:yeah, once i realized that if i want to "do" something with trees, then i needed more trees... adding a tree and losing a tree here and there...

leatherback wrote:And when you do, at some point you should get to the stage where you can only bring a new tree in, if (Or better, after) you get rid of another. Here I try to adhere to the principle: Is what I am bringing in better than the tree leaving the set. If not, do not take it, even if it is a species you really want. A better tree will be available in time. That way you slowly improve the quality of the batch at home.

So then while adding to one's collection, best practice is not to be too hasty when acquiring the right specimen; otherwise it easily leads to overabundance (because of over enthusiasm Smile).

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Re: First Styling for Me and the Tree

Post  Richard S on Tue Oct 20, 2015 5:15 pm

The old adage "quality not quantity" is appropriate here I think.

Having said that, in the early days it is very hard to resist collecting lots of "potential" bonsai because A) the search for you next tree is all part of the fun and B) because you need stuff to practice with and there's only so much you can do to any one tree at one time.

Unfortunately though, I have found that much of what I acquired early on wasn't really worth keeping. Then again it did teach me a lot about pruning, wiring, re-potting etc so I don't think it was wasted. Especially as most of it was very cheap/free.

By the way, this thread has prompted me to go outside and count my trees (something I haven't done for a while). I thought I probably had a couple of dozen. I've actually got 65!

Time for some of the less promising specimens to be planted in the garden and forgotten about perhaps.

Regards

Richard


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Re: First Styling for Me and the Tree

Post  Dave Leppo on Tue Oct 20, 2015 5:18 pm

You know, I have several promising specimens in the ground in my yard, and some around the neighborhood marked for collection.. I only count potted trees.

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Re: First Styling for Me and the Tree

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Tue Oct 20, 2015 10:29 pm

Takes 10 plus years for a tree to show it's mature features.
Our Tamarind for example, is not known for surface roots [ seen normally only through erosion ] but an expanding lower trunk and flaking bark. Really much more beautiful than doing [ as Jim calls it - cookie cutter trees .]

If more folk just relaxed and let the 3 to 5 years [ Horticultual aspect of learning to water, grow etc. take place. Tried drawing or doing the Jun technique of copying off of the computer's screen the image with good tracing paper, using photos to -

[a] Project the fattening of curves, trunk thickening of seedlings

[b] Study old / mature trees - single [ as in a meadow ]  for designs ]

Actually looking at real trees and not copying efforts in books.

They could have excellent trees at 5 years going to the 10 years.
Age only makes them better.

AND lots of prepared [ soil ] ground growing.

Laters.
Khaimraj

*In a rush, make them shorter, and shorter.

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Re: First Styling for Me and the Tree

Post  Intricate Simplicity on Fri Oct 23, 2015 10:00 pm

Richard S wrote:The old adage "quality not quantity" is appropriate here I think.

Having said that, in the early days it is very hard to resist collecting lots of "potential" bonsai because A) the search for you next tree is all part of the fun and B) because you need stuff to practice with and there's only so much you can do to any one tree at one time.

Unfortunately though, I have found that much of what I acquired early on wasn't really worth keeping. Then again it did teach me a lot about pruning, wiring, re-potting etc so I don't think it was wasted. Especially as most of it was very cheap/free.

Jeez- 65 trees is not to shabby! Good points, it's like with any hobby you first enter- you can get overenthusiastic and turn it into a collection of some sort (of tools/specimens/whathaveyou). Like you said, though, it seems to be that experience is a good benefit from having too many trees.

Khaimraj Seepersad wrote:Takes 10 plus years for a tree to show it's mature features.
Our Tamarind for example, is not known for surface roots [ seen normally only through erosion ] but an expanding lower trunk and flaking bark. Really much more beautiful than doing [ as Jim calls it - cookie cutter trees .]

If more folk just relaxed and let the 3 to 5 years [ Horticultual aspect of learning to water, grow etc. take place. Tried drawing or doing the Jun technique of copying off of the computer's screen the image with good tracing paper, using photos to -

[a] Project the fattening of curves, trunk thickening of seedlings

[b] Study old / mature trees - single [ as in a meadow ]  for designs ]

Actually looking at real trees and not copying efforts in books.

They could have excellent trees at 5 years going to the 10 years.
Age only makes them better.

AND lots of prepared [ soil ] ground growing.

Laters.
Khaimraj

*In a rush, make them shorter, and shorter.

I'm going to copy that information into Evernote so I can remember to think of long-term benefits. Great post!

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