During the British Shohin Bonsai exhibition at RHS Wisley Gardens in the south of England that was hosted by Sutton Bonsai society I attended workshop led by Taiga Urushibata. So much time can be wasted at workshops simply wiring your tree, so I pre-wired my pine before the workshop, I also took along another pine to work if time allowed.
I could easily have styled this tree but I wanted Taiga’s ‘take’ on the tree, there were so many option available… what was his idea for the tree, how would he style it? I believe that you are never to old to learn no matter how many years you have been working with bonsai.
The tree is a ‘natural’ cascade as the base of the tree has a sharp bend bringing the trunk more than 90º also the base and nebari are very interesting displaying deadwood and deep fissured bark. There is a VERY old shari running almost the length of the sweeping curve trunk.
After a short discussion Taiga agreed that this was the best option and the styling began. I wanted to bring the crown of the tree closer to the base, this meant a very severe bend. The tree had raffia in the area to be bend. Taiga told me that such a bend was not safe however I was confident that it was OK as the tree was strong and Scots Pine are very flexible. A tourniquet was applied to a temporary steel bar; this tourniquet was later replaced with a shorter one attached to a dead branch nearer the base of the tree. Taiga expressed that a bend such as this would not be possible with a Japanese Red pine as the branch would snap in two.
The final design was more or less as I envisaged. The other trees worked by Taiga included a few Junipers, a Yew and pines.
This is a pine that I planted in 2006 on this amazing rock from Scotland, Terry Foster helped with the planting. The photos tell the story.
I traded a small Yew for this Mugo Pine at The Burrs workshop 2012, it was planted in a large flat plastic seed tray in a soil mixture not suitable for the rather damp conditions where I live. Whilst re-potting I saw that all the roots were on one side so decided to change the angle and make a cascading tree. The tree responded well and has thrived all year. Today I styled the tree, I have not wired to the tips of the needles because at this stage refinement is NOT my objective. Branch placement and the establishment of the design. The next few years will be bud development and refining the design.
update image due to a discussion on EBF
I would not normally work on a pine that had only been potted the year before however this pine was responding well PLUS I used a strong strap to hole the tree firm whilst I worked.
The major branches were first wrapped in Raffia then Self Amalgamating Rubber Tape. Minor branches only had Raffia and thin branches no protection. ONLY copper wire was used.
I tend to style from the bottom up, working each branch and positioning before I wire the next. I always have the image in my head that I wish to achieve, this process saves wiring unnecessary branches.
I decided to work the deadwood after styling as I wanted the canopy to determine the size of the deadwood. On this occasion no long jins or stylised carving, only hand tools were used.