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.

Small corean hornbeam - update

An update of my little coreana from two days ago. Currently it is exhibited on our spring exhibition in the University of Horticulture.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Small corean hornbeam

This is a small corean hornbeam that I have bought last year. I pruned, wired and repotted it two weeks ago.
The first picture is as it looks now, the second one was taken two weeks ago during pruning and wiring.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Small hornbeam waking up

This is how my little hornbeam looks like tonight. I have repotted it this year.
I like the light, airy, spring feeling of this picture :)

Originally I have bought the tree in early 2006 when it had a fairly dense branch structure but branches were going in all directions so I have pruned away most of them.

This last picture is from spring 2007.

Dynax 7d

Not a bonsai but still not far. I loved the rhythm.
I have bought a camera last weekend and shot about 1000 photos, this is one of them.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A drawing by Rudi Julianto

Rudi Julianto from the Internet Bonsai Club was so kind as to share his vision of my hawthorn with this great drawing. Thanks a lot, Rudi, this sketch has made me even more enthusiastic about this tree!
I think I can get here in two years, at least I will try!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Big maple updated

The leaves are beautiful on this maple now -
little Anjou lilies unfolding.

With Homo sapiens for scale.

Hawthorns updated

Leaves are coming out on my hawthorns - here is an update of the one I have repotted two weeks ago.

The literati hawthorn looks like this now.

Three years of a field maple

I have acquired this collected field maple (Acer campestre) four years ago from György Rácz. Three years ago, in April 2005 it looked like this:

This week I have pruned and wired it. Btw. I had to realize again that its not a good idea to prune a field maple in early spring as it bleeds heavily. The photograph shows it rotated and with a new pot set in front of the tree, which I think would fit well with it (though maybe it's a bit big).

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spring is here

The leaves are coming on my Acer ginnala.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Some trees repotted

These are some of the trees that I have repotted this spring.

First, a literati hawthorn that's gonna look really great in about two years if I manage to create some branch structure on top.
I have collected it in 2006 but the first year it did nothing, not a single leaf has appeared. Apparently it didn't really like being moved but it was not obviously dead so I kept watering it (pretty unfrequently as it didn't use too much water). Then in spring 2007 it has sprouted, and I have wired it lighly. This year I have potted it up in an upright position.
The first picture is from March 2008, the second from March 2007.

Second, a hawthorn that I have bought in 2006.
The first picture shows how it looked like when I have bought it in 2006, and a video from all sides.

The second picture is still from 2006, after the first styling.

The third picture shows how it looks like today, after having repotted it last weekend. This is going to be one amazing tree! Now the roots sticking up high above soil level look stupid but I didn't dare to remove those, it will be done with time. It has a very good nebari under the current soil level, so once I manage to get rid of these roots up high, it will really be a killer one!

This is my Picea orientalis, which was a regular christmas tree. I have already posted its progression on this blog here.
This picture shows it after repotting. Of course I wanted to pot it up fully upright but the root structure didn't allow it, in fact I have removed a lot of roots even to be able to pot it up like this. I can only hope it will thrive.
The tree looked better last year after it was wired (see the above link) but the wire has begun to cut in some of the branches so I have removed those, and now for some time I'll leave it like it is, because I don't want to stress it any more.

Egyetemi Bonsai Club session - 2008.03.08.

Last saturday we had the first practical session with the club this year. Time for repotting, I took two trees and I have potted them up - a spruce and a hawthorn.

Here are some pictures from the session.

Three wise men.

Árpád Nagy is working on Zsófi's hornbeam.

The top of the tree has been removed.

Zsófi is repotting the hornbeam.

Zoli was working on his windswept hornbeam. It was pretty hot and humid in the greenhouse, and also a lot of people for too little space, so after some time I have moved outside.

Some of the finished trees: my picea, two buxus trees and my hawthorn.


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