Cotoneaster – Bonsai or Topiary?

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Cotoneaster – Bonsai or Topiary?

Post  bonsai monkey on Wed Jun 17, 2009 12:18 pm

I’ve been pondering this statement for a while and was wondering what you guys thought.

As a novice I’ve found that I have a lot of Cotoneasters as I find them easy to work on as they are pretty flexible and forgiving. Is this because of my lack of skill at producing convincing branch structure instead hiding this shortfall with a foliage mass/pad or is it because I lack the patience, along with the skill, to produce a convincing tree? I know that I alone can answer that question but with the advantages that I have pointed out is this reason why this species is not taken as seriously as Bonsai as this is a true “clip & grow” plant, so do they make really good Bonsai?

It seems to me that Cotoneaster’s, along with Privet, are looked down upon as Bonsai and was wondering if that was snob value? I know that they are not as imposing as a Pine, Juniper or Yew (on the evergreen front) or as majestic as a Japanese Maple so does this make them glorified garden shrubs or a realistic option?

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Re: Cotoneaster – Bonsai or Topiary?

Post  Kev Bailey on Wed Jun 17, 2009 12:31 pm

Hi Simon,

Good question. I've seen one or two Cotoneasters that were so good that I questioned the owners ID of the tree. They just didn't look like C horizontalis with the characteristic herringbone pattern growth. If it can make good bonsai, and it certainly can, why not use it? AFAIC the only reasons not to use a tree species is if it is too short lived or presents an obstacle that is difficult to overcome, eg. Aesculus hippocastanum - Horse Chestnut leaf size.


Last edited by Kev Bailey on Wed Jun 17, 2009 1:25 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Cotoneaster – Bonsai or Topiary?

Post  AlainK on Wed Jun 17, 2009 12:34 pm

I agree with you when you say that they are flexible and forgiving, which makes them very good material for training.

But like every other species, the skil and artistry of the person that takes care of them is what will make a bonsai out of a cotoneaster. You could ask the same question about Pyracanthas, or azaleas, etc., none of these looking really like a "tree" in nature. So I think they are just not in the same category as pines, maples and others.

But if you still have a doubt, look at Morten Albek's shohins, I think they are convincing enough Wink

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Re: Cotoneaster – Bonsai or Topiary?

Post  Stone Monkey on Wed Jun 17, 2009 1:06 pm

Simon

Cotoneasters are very much viable material for Bonsai, however this depends on the material that you have to start the Bonsai process, as with any species of tree. "You cant make a silk purse out of a sow's ear", bad material will never make fantastc bonsai. If we are talking about the material you have just obtained then IMHO I think it will make a good Shohin Bonsai Very Happy

With regards to Privet. We have both seen Ian Warhurst's privet at BSA at Willowbog this year and I certainly would not look down on it at all. The exact opposite, I am dead jealous Sad So remember a good Cotoneaster or Privet will always look better than a crap Maple or Pine drunken

All the best

Andy

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Re: Cotoneaster – Bonsai or Topiary?

Post  bonsai monkey on Wed Jun 17, 2009 3:56 pm

Thanks for your response.

Don’t get me wrong, I love working with Cotoneasters and do have a couple of nice pieces of raw material that one day, I hope, will make fantastic miniature trees. I suppose I brought this subject up for 2 reasons really these being you don’t tend to see GOOD Cotoneasters at Bonsai nurseries and how some people react to the less stereotypical species at Bonsai shows. It seems that some people either don’t “get” or like the slightly off the cuff varieties. I watched people at BoBB, and local shows, almost pass by “non classical” Japanese species to spend ages gazing at trees that I wouldn’t even give bench space to! Maybe I’m strange but I always try and give all the trees the same amount of study even if I don’t “get” them either. You know what I mean Andy Wink

As for the tree you refer to Andy, it’s gotta be good as it was you who alerted me to it as you know my fetish for Shohin. As for Ian’s Privet it’s a show stopper and I would give my eye teeth for a Bonsai half as good as his!

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Re: Cotoneaster – Bonsai or Topiary?

Post  Lee Kennedy on Wed Jun 17, 2009 5:51 pm

You got it right first time Simon,it's snob value Steve Tolley had the best material privets i've ever seen a few years back,he found it very difficult to sell them,had they been olives(and i'm led to believe olive and privet are from the same familly)they would have sold before he picked them up.
It is harder to find great cotoneaster trunks than privet,but keep going in this general direction,native plants are more suited to our enviroment and have a little shock value instead of the generic just another(insert japanese material here) Idea

Lee Kennedy
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Re: Cotoneaster – Bonsai or Topiary?

Post  fiona on Wed Jun 17, 2009 7:13 pm

Stone Monkey wrote:With regards to Privet. We have both seen Ian Warhurst's privet at BSA at Willowbog this year and I certainly would not look down on it at all. The exact opposite, I am dead jealous

Oi! Stone Monkey man! Beat it! I've got first refusal on the Privet! And for heaven's sake stop telling him it's good cos he just sticks another 0 on to the end of the price every time someone does that. I started my offer at £10 and now he's up to £10,000!

Bonsai Monkey: the skill will come because you've got the eye for it and you're looking in all the right places, thus cutting out the "waste years" I talked about in another post. Burrs will make a man of you believe me.

Lee: add of course Hawthorn to the list. I get fed up when people try to tell me it's inferior because it ain't Japanese. Just look at the stuff on this forum - Hawthorns a plenty and extremely good ones at that. And dead easy to find with trunks from Shohin size to the size of erm ... Tony's waist.

NB For those who don't know the Privet tree the Monkeys are talking about a pic would be good. I'm sure Ian won't mind us singing his praises - the tree deserves it (as does the artist) and sums up exactly how you do make the proverbial silk purse. I've got one of it out of leaf but I'm having difficulty getting servimg.com to come up right now.

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Re: Cotoneaster – Bonsai or Topiary?

Post  bonsai monkey on Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:15 pm

Lee Kennedy wrote:It is harder to find great cotoneaster trunks than privet,but keep going in this general direction,native plants are more suited to our enviroment and have a little shock value instead of the generic just another(insert japanese material here) Idea

Hi Lee,
I'm with you on this one and I've just picked up a lovely Cotoneaster which, acording to "Snore Monkey" this evening, it will make a cracking little tree. It ain't gunna be huge but it might make an interesting "Turtle Back" clump in years to come. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Fiona
Thanx for your kind words regarding my (roving) eye for a design and I hope not to have too many "wasted years" and with all the advice and help I'm getting I'm sure I won't.
I've heard that Burrs will make a man of me, I'm just worried what sort of man affraid

bonsai monkey
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Re: Cotoneaster – Bonsai or Topiary?

Post  fiona on Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:59 pm

bonsai monkey wrote: I've heard that Burrs will make a man of me, I'm just worried what sort of man affraid

It'll put hairs on your chest.

On the inside!!! Shocked

Anyhow. Now that That Lovely Kev Bailey has hown me how to bypass servimg.com, here is the only pic I could find of Ian W's privet. It's not the best pic, bu it is a stunner of a tree.


fiona
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Re: Cotoneaster – Bonsai or Topiary?

Post  Ian Warhurst on Thu Jun 18, 2009 1:49 pm

Hi Guy`s, thanks for all the kind words about the privet, i`ve not long defoliated it so when it comes back into leaf i`ll post a pic. This tree has been a dream to work on from the begining when it was collected as a 2 foot high stump with hardly any root to what it is now 10 years on, it`s done everything asked of it and more and i`m pleased to say I have a few more in the pipe line. Lee is absolutely correct in what he says about growing native material, nearly all my trees are indiginous species, after all you only have to look at this forum to see that all the other people from other countries around the world are posting pics of trees that grow in their parts of the world. Imagine how long it would take to produce a showable olive from raw material in our climate, I don`t think i`d have the patience Smile . By the way Andy do you fancy making me a pot for my Escallonia in the other thread. Your pot`s are fantastic and i`m sure you could come up with something to do the tree justice.

thanks again,

Ian.

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Re: Cotoneaster – Bonsai or Topiary?

Post  Stone Monkey on Thu Jun 18, 2009 2:51 pm

Ian

I am more than happy to make a pot for your tree. If you send me some internal measurements then I will get a couple of pots done for when I come up to Burrs in November mate Very Happy

All the best mate

Andy

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Re: Cotoneaster – Bonsai or Topiary?

Post  John Quinn on Thu Jun 18, 2009 2:53 pm

A little tweaking...and a test of the current image uploading capabilities! Cool


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