Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pinus nigra - development in five years

It's been quite a while since I last posted here, but some time ago I was working on this black pine and I thought it's something worth sharing. I have this pine for five years, and I think it's making a nice progress. Now that I looked back at pictures made in 2005, really it was not much of a sight, but still somehow I liked it a lot back then - and ever since.

Lets start with the current picture, not to scare away my readers :)

When I wired it this time, I have bandaged the branches with strips of cloth to keep the bark from scarring. I looks kind of stupid but it was done for the future...

And now how it looked like originally in 2005:

I have first styled it in 2005, removed the inner needles and pruned it back, shortening the branches above the buds.

In 2006 I have worked on it again, removed the old needles and wired it. Looking at the change now, it's pretty scary how little green was left, but fortunately the tree responded well to this drastic styling. I have planted it in this massive rectangular pot by Zoltan File. It's way too large, but the roots were a mass and I didn't want to stress the tree too much. Btw. it matches with the masculine image of this black pine. Unfortunately I have realized that I have not potted it optimally and decided that the new front shoould be the one in this photo, featuring the curves of the trunk.

In 2009, exactly a year ago:

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The literati hawthorn in fall

This hawthorn has produced nice fall colors this year, the yellow leaves look cool with the deep red fruits.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Five years of a scots pine

I have bought this scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) in the winter of 2004 in a garden center. This variety, 'Saxatilis' is in my opinion great for bonsai because it has small leaves, a compact growth habit and buds a lot. (I also have a larger one of this variety.)

This is how it looked like originally, and after a very little pruning.

At about 15cm high the trunk has split into two major branches and two about equal sized "crowns" so I have removed the right-side one and carved it into a jin. I have also pruned away a lot of the branches of the remaining crown as Saxatilis is a very dense growing variety. This picture shows the tree in the winter of 2007 when it was badly in need of a wiring.

In 2008 I did a leaf-pruning on the tree (removed all of last years needles) and started to wire it. The wiring was about half done when Tony Tickle came to the Bonsai Show 2008 in Budapest and visited my garden. Tony saw the potential in the tree and he has kindly offered to style it. He has pruned much of the remaining half of the tree to open up the dense structure and also wired the major branches. Some pictures of this work:

This way a major leap forward as the crown was reduced to the essential branches. Tony with the finished tree.

This year the pine has sprouted back vigorously and produced more ramification. This picture was made a few days ago.

Then I have leaf-pruned it again, removing all of last years needles which has opened up the "bushy" character that it has produced again. I have also placed some stones around the tree to create an explanation for the strange root bulge on the right. With time I plan to carve it away but I would like to see its roots at the next repotting before I do it. This is how the current front looks like today.

However the tree looks a lot better when viewed a little from the right side. Next spring I will pot it up in this orientation: about 45 degrees to the right of the current front and also tilting up the current far left corner.

Literati hawthorn with fruits

The hawthorn that I have posted about in this post has ripened its fruits now. I have removed two lower branches and it looks much better now.
I like the contrast of the fruits and the leaves.

Friday, May 8, 2009

White lilac in flowers

My lilac is in flowers - I love this tree!

With me for scale.

I have found this tree in 2006 in a flower shop just around our corner - interesting how it got there... Of course I have bought it!

The tree in 2006, marked with red where I haved planned to pruned - eventually I have left the left-side thick dead branch. I have to thank Walter Pall for his advice on the Internet Bonsai Club on this tree!

The lilac in August 2006 - it has sprouted vigirously after havin cut back in the spring.

Crassula ovata - 'Gollum'

A Crassula ovata that I have acquired during the spring flower exhibition. This is a leaf mutant with very interesting, almost tubular leafs, 'Gollum' if I'm not mistaken.
A great trunk and a great feel about this tree!

Min Hsuan Lo in Budapest

On April 14th, Min Hsuan Lo has visited Budapest and our bonsai club had the honour of seeing him doing a demonstration.
He was working on refining an old hornbeam. It was a great pleasure to see Min's demonstration as for me he is one of the greatest bonsai masters I know of, with a very unique style.

Ervin Katona, the president of the club and Min are greeting each other. Min has received the 25th anniversary plaquette of the club from Ervin. Min was talking about 2009 Asia-Pacific Bonsai Ehibition that he will be heading in Taiwan.

First the future front of the tree was chosen. Min has evaluated several options and even had the audience vote for the front.

Sanyi Papp was helping during the demonstration with the wiring.

Min with the finished tree that turned out great.

After the demonstration Min has answered some questions of the audience, among others he was talking about his personal style and how he sees bonsai.

See you next time!

Min Hsuan Lo in Budapest - an amazing event for me!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Spring exhibition 2009

Between 22. and 24. April our Club took part in the Spring Flower Exhibition at the University of Horticulture. Our exhibition was a little bit smaller than usual. I have presented these three trees (I will post pictures of some of the other trees in my exhibition blog).

I took my little broom-style hornbeam that I'm working on since 2006, I think it's coming along nicely.

I took this literati hawthorn for its flowers. It has a very interesting trunk and a still undeveloped branch structure (I have collected the tree in 2007) but it was full in flowers.

I have also exhibited this larch that I have bought as an unstyled yamadori from Karl Thier in 2007. The potting is bad but all the roots are on the left side so I couldn't pot up otherwise. Next year I will try to remove some more roots and pot it in a round pot instead of this oval. The companion plant is a small Sedum in a lovely kusamono pot by Dan Barton that I got as a gift from Tony Tickle (the pot is set on a flat stone).

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Spring flowers again - blackthorn

This is a sloe (blackthorn - Prunus spinosa) that I have acquired last spring. It was about twice its current height but I have cut the top part because it was too much curves for one plant :) I have a picture of it from last year but I just can't find it now...
This year I have potted it into this oversized pot and did some cutting and wiring. It's still a bit chaotic but that's it for now. The base of the trunk is really bad, I think I'll have to disguise it with some extra deadwood (tanuki-like). But the flowers are very nice :)

The first picture is as it looks like today, the second is a virtual in a smaller pot and a slightly different potting angle.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Flowers, Bees, Prunus...

I have this little Prunus (some kind of ornamental Prunus species, maybe incisa or serrulata but I'm not sure) that I'm trying to growing in a broom style. Because it's flowering so nice I've brought it up on our balcony. This morning I have noticed a big bumblebee flying around and landing on this tree.

Two years ago I have rooted a little cutting from this tree. It's really tiny, about 10cm high, yet it's flowering.
It was overwintered in an unheated room and was the first tree to bloom this year, in the middle of march.

Friday, December 26, 2008

On the age of trees

In a comment upon my last post Zeit has asked me about the age of the two trees on the photos.
Well this is a pretty natural question - especially from someone called Zeit :) - but the age of any tree is in many cases not easy to know. First you usually don't know this unless you planted the tree from seed and this is not the case with these trees. Also, trees age very differently than other creatures. How old is a tree grown from a cutting of another tree? Or one grown from an air layer of another tree? Or one that grew from a sucker when the original tree was about to die? If you want, trees can be immortal by good care, similar to what is happening with bonsais.

Still to give an answer regarding these two trees, I estimate the biological age of the maple to be between 8 and 20 years but I may be wrong. I have purchased the maple in 2007 and I don't know about its history.

Now the hawthorn is an interesting question. This year it has flowered (a single flower) and as far as I know, hawthorns don't flower until they are about 15 years old so this can be an indicator of its age. But I have collected this tree 3 years ago from the wild and I don't know whether it has flowered before or not (they are finnicky to collecting so it may just have stopped flowering because of being disturbed). On the other hand, it looks like the current 5 trunks are younger than 15 years. But it's evident that there were older trunks growing from the same base that were already dead and gone (except for small stubs) when I collected the tree so it may have indeed started its life earlier. The current 5 trunks are probably suckers from the original base.

But more important in the case of a bonsai is not its actual age but the age of the tree that the bonsai embodies. That is, we should be talking about the protagonist in the story while the bonsai itself is just the actor.
With this in mind, for me the maple is a fully grown tree standing alone somewhere in an open field, and could be about 30 years. It is mature but not yet old, still in full vigour, with no sings of wear and dieback evident on older trees.
The five-trunk hawthorn conveys the image of a waterside tree for me, with branches stretching over the banks of a river in search of the light reflected from the water. With this bonsai I'm also trying to show a mature but not an old tree, so this one will not feature jins or sharis (deadwood). I still have to develop a denser branching and I'm also waiting for an aged bark (it has begun to show near the base) to get there. I think in about 3-5 years this tree can tell the story of a mature waterside tree. Bear in mind that most waterside trees don't get to be matusalems like a mountain pine so this can mean an age somewhere between 20 and 60 years.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Autumn is here

Autumn is here for some time now, and many trees have turned to wonderful colors. Here are two from my collection: the five-trunk hawthorn and my maple.
(The hawthorn is really difficult to photograph because of its spatialness, I have not yet succeeded in producing a good photo of it, but the leaf colors are great anyway.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008


The hawthorn I have pruned and wired two days ago is coming along pretty well (imho). I'll gradually remove the ugly roots up on the trunk.

The left picture is from march, the right was made today.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Update of the literati hawthorn

It's been some time since I have last posted here anything, although I was working on a few trees since then. Yesterday I have pruned and wired a hawthorn (the one I have posted about in march). I'll take a few pictures of the result and post it, but here's an update on an other hawthorn, the literati.
Check Rudi Julianto's drawing to see what I'm aiming for with this one.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Little visitor

Last night when I came home, my wife showed me a little visitor on my bonsai spruce forest. This bee was flying around for a long time on our balcony, seemingly looking for something. Then after careful consideration, it landed on this little spruce, attached itself with its "mouth" and begun cleaning itself with all six feet. When this was done, it went to sleep. I took a few photos of the bee. By the morning, it was gone.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Plum in flowers - again

My plum is in flowers again - actually the flowers have already begun to wither, that's why I didn't bring it to our show. The blossoms would fall even faster indoors in the warm. I whish it flowered just a few days later.

Not too much has changed since last year; but two small branches have died and are now turned into jins. Still a beautiful tree for me.

European hornbeam and hawthorn - two of the trees I'm exhibiting

Currently I'm exibiting four trees in our spring show - the small coreana from the last post, the big maple (Acer ginnala) and these two trees.

The small european hornbeam has now fully leafed out.

A five-trunk hawthorn - it's pretty difficult to photograph this tree because it looks cluttered on the picture even though in reality it's graceful and airy. I think of this tree as a clump of trees leaning over water, hence the little pot holding water and a white blossom it it.
The tree would look better in front of a white background but I didn't have a white background wide enough - this is a rather large group.

I have collected this tree in 2005 and originally intended to style it as a windswept. This side on the picture actually became the back side when I realized what a great feeling it has when you imagine yourself under its outstreched branches on a river bank.


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