Restyling an old shohin Larch group

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Restyling an old shohin Larch group

Post  Mike Pollock on Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:27 am

I bought this shohin Japanese larch group at last year's MidAtlantic Bonsai Societies' festival banquet. It was one of a number of old (30 years plus) bonsai donated by a former organizer of the event.

This first photo is after the first pruning and wiring to open up the trees and see what was what.



After a season of growth and rethinking a new potting angle, here's the tree before it went away for winter storage.


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Restyling larch group continued

Post  Mike Pollock on Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:36 am

When I went to water my trees today, I noticed the buds beginning to swell signaling an imminent repotting window. So I got out my wire and stand and got to work.

The first view is the front I had decided on before the work.



After spinning it all around, this other front has some interest. If I choose this front there will be a bit of adjusting to do, especially the right-most tree. The major downside is that this angle places the main tree in the back and smaller trees coming out at you towards the front.



I'll be planting the group on an artificial slab I picked up just the other day from New England Bonsai Garden in Massachussets.

I think I'll enjoy showing a group with four trees. Many people have told me to leave the fifth, dead tree in the group. We'll see...

What does everyone think about the fronts?

Mike Pollock
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Restyling larch group continued

Post  Guest on Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:02 am

I prefer the first wired picture. A more compact image and as you say, the biggest tree at the front gives a better sense of perspective.I think I would raise the soil level on the roots, when putting it on the slab.

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Thanks Will

Post  Mike Pollock on Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:23 pm

The first front is probably the way I'll go for
now. I'll definitely be lowering the soil level to eliminate the mound. How aggressive do you think I can be? These are my first Japanese larch.

It may not fit on my slab, so I'll have a couple of
pots nearby. Think I could get away with a round pot? The conventional choice
would be oval.

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Re: Restyling an old shohin Larch group

Post  AlainK on Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:37 pm

I agree with lowering the soil, and yes, an oval pot would be better than a round one.

Another thing is that, for purists, 4 trees is not a good number for a forest, the trees usually go in odd numbers. So here, either you add one tree, or remove one.

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Re: Restyling an old shohin Larch group

Post  littleart-fx on Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:32 pm

Hi mike, in this case i would add a tree and yes the dead one.
Most forests don't show decay, a forest to itself should have a lifes circle if you ask me,.... Embarassed

Grtzz machiel.

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repotted

Post  Mike Pollock on Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:06 pm

The day arrived to repot this group last Thursday. The buds were swelling and just about to show the first green.

I repotted it without the fifth, dead tree. I'll decide what to do once it leafs out and settles into the new pot. I was able to lower the group about 1/2 inch. With the mound on the slab it looks much more natural than before. I'll post another photo after its done leafing out. I'll also adjust the second tree on the right so the trunk is not so close to vertical. I'm really happy I bought this last april at the MidAtlantic convention banquet.



Last edited by Mike Pollock on Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:41 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Adding info., typo corrections.)

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repotted

Post  Guest on Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:13 pm

This is much better Mike. I love the open feeling around the composition.

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Re: Restyling an old shohin Larch group

Post  Dale Cochoy on Mon Mar 22, 2010 7:14 pm

Looks good Mike!
Is that going to be in this years MidA display?

D.

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Displaying it this year?

Post  Mike Pollock on Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:38 am

I don't know Dale. I think all I'll hear is "there are only four trees in it..."

It's rare for people to take in the feeling of a tree first, then look for technique (faults especially).

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Re: Restyling an old shohin Larch group

Post  fiona on Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:44 am

Mike Pollock wrote:I don't know Dale. I think all I'll hear is "there are only four trees in it..."

It's rare for people to take in the feeling of a tree first, then look for technique (faults especially).
Mike, I think you have just hit the nail on the head of why I don't like the "those are the rules" approach.

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Re: Restyling an old shohin Larch group

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:27 am

Very nice work




Shimsuki

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seeing trees

Post  Mike Pollock on Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:51 am

Fiona,

I always recommend that people take in a bonsai exhibition first alone, when its least crowded, and try to feel the overall effect of the trees. Its not easy to look at the trees with a "beginner's mind," open to the effect of the tree without all the "knowledge" or "rules" we learn as we study bonsai.

Later we can go back and look at the trees analytically, seeing all the "good" and "bad" points. You can do both if you start with the emotional impact of the trees. It doesn't work as well in reverse. Once you see the faults or technical tricks of a tree, its harder to set them aside and just feel the tree.

I do a presentation for bonsai groups about how to make the most out of a bonsai event. As far as I'm concerned, this is th most important advice in the program.

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Re: Restyling an old shohin Larch group

Post  gm.it.seacom on Tue Mar 23, 2010 3:44 am

i feel its a wonderful composition....i think at some point of time rules have no place when nature is speaking...good work..

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Re: Restyling an old shohin Larch group

Post  Dale Cochoy on Tue Mar 23, 2010 6:49 pm

Mike,
My teacher, Keith Scott, used to have two sayings he used when confronted with the group/forest composition EVEN number trees criticism.
He used one or the other of these two answers:

"One Died"
or
"I put in an extra in case one dies"
Very Happy

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Re: Restyling an old shohin Larch group

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:00 pm

When I saw this beautiful composition, it didn't even enter my thoughts that there were only 4 trees. I think if you look at something and start pulling it apart immediately, you have kinda missed the point. If the show doesn't accept it, their loss.

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Re: Restyling an old shohin Larch group

Post  Paul Landis on Thu Mar 25, 2010 4:43 am

Great work Mike!! Really looks great on that slab.

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Re: Restyling an old shohin Larch group

Post  Mark on Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:56 am

Nice work Mike!
What I see is two components, the first a group of three trees and then a single companion which make up the composition.
By positioning the group in this way you avoided the feeling of symmetrical balance that comes with some even number plantings.
Several other design elements aid in the success of this composition too. This might make an interesting lesson for your students.

Mark

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Re: Restyling an old shohin Larch group

Post  Russell Coker on Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:31 pm

If I were ever forced to more north Sad , larch would definitely provide some consolation.

I like the composition, but really miss the little dead tree - if only for added interest.

Russell

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Re: Restyling an old shohin Larch group

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