Volunteering at the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection

So I was emailing back and fourth with Dave Degroot some time ago – he is the curator of the Rim, and told him I’d love to volunteer sometime… he kindly accepted my offer. Today was my first day. I had a GREAT time!!! Fun crew to hang out with, especially our own Dick Benbow who is a SUPER nice guy! David showed us a bunch of stuff that was in need of attention. Between shows and vacations, there were some trees that needed some loving that had been allowed to grow out.

I had a wealth of things to choose from, and David just wanted us to work on whatever we were drawn to. I picked a monster of a Chinese Elm penjing that I’ve always been fond of. Dick hung out with me and gave me a hand getting it mowed down enough so that I could actually get into it before moving on to some other awesome trees. I ended up spending the entire 7 hour shift on this one tree.

Two months of re-growth on a previously defoliated Chinese Elm penjing.

I decided I wanted to open it up a bit and let the light deep into the canopy, so I was somewhat agressive with it, without being disrespectful. We were largely left to work on our own as there were multipul tours at the garden today. When he came back down, I think Dave was a little surprised with how hard I was getting after it… (cuz he sort of skidded to a stop and said WHOA when he saw it…lol) after getting past the surprise, he started getting into detail with me about his vision for the branch structure and the philosophy behind the penjing practiced in the south of China, where this tree would have come from.

I went back at it with a different appreciation of his goal, which was a little different than where I had been heading, but was not out of line… so no harm no foul. I later apologized to him and explained I should have slowed my roll and made sure I was heading in the direction he wanted. He was nothing but gracious and appreciative of the work that had been done. It was fascinating to get an close up explanation of some of the seemingly ‘wild and unorganized’ nature of penjing. What is closer to the truth is that in many ways it is more exacting than many aspects of bonsai practice in foliage arrangement…. as I said, just fascinating!

I only wish I could have had more time, my detail oriented nature felt frustrated by having to leave it incomplete (which you’d notice if you saw the back)…. But the day was done, and it was time to go home.

Chinese Elm after seven hours of pruning.

I must have done alright though… David told me he’d add me to the regular roster, and Scarlett (his beautiful assistant) gave me the compliment of the day…..

“Wow we could almost put that back out on display now!”

Chinese Elm - other view.

What an awesome day! I’ll keep you posted on my adventures there with David, Scarlett, Dick, and the gang. ūüôā

Front view. Unfortunately could not get far enough back to get it perfect.

The only thing which would have been more awesome is if David could do what Daniel does… throw it in the back of my truck and send it home with me to finish….lol

Enjoy!

Kindest regards,

Victrinia

Rocky Mountain Juniper: No Guts No Glory

(Ok… so I know I was supposed to put up part two of Bonsaication next… but have you ever been so gripped with inspiration you could not resist the impulse to create?? That’s where I found myself on the evening when I was supposed to be finishing the other story – vacations are almost as hectic when you return as from before you left – and I could not ignore the creative fire that had been lit. So I hope you’ll enjoy this as I leave you hanging on the other for a little bit longer. BUT the good thing is that you’ll find, when I get to that section – which is all about our collecting trip – that having read this will inspire your mind when you look at the trees we collected. Sometimes the obvious isn’t always the best, learn the skills to make trees do ballet and all the world suddenedly has infinite possibilities. Don’t close your mind to an idea just because it seems impossible.)

The other day Eric and I bartered with our friend Will Hiltz for several NICE antique pots in exchange for a raft planting Siberian Elm that Eric had. Being a very generous kind of guy, he threw in a RMJ he had collected several years ago. This tree originally had two crowns, but the one which had inspired it’s collection had died back, leaving a long trunk horizontal to the soil line.

Photobucket

Part of the reason we entered into the barter was that when Will had seen the elm during a visit he had such a strong and clear vision for what he would do with it. I found myself feeling much the same thing when I saw this RMJ. I knew exactly what I would do with it. I asked Eric if I could have it… and he gave it to me, not having any strong feelings about it for himself. We often will negotiate trees between us… I recently found a gorgeous collected Korean Hornbeam, which I gave over to him, because he’d been seeking one for some time.

Anyway… I got home this evening and decided it was a great time to work on the juniper. Essentially my plan was to excavate the heavy deadwood to the live vein and move the limb over the center of the trunkline.

To accomplish this, I used the new Terrier bit we got from Dale to remove the wood…

Photobucket

The heartwood was removed just to the point of being along the vascular tissue to the inner side of the vein. You want to be careful not to remove too much.

After the channel was excavated, a section of the deadwood in the main trunkline was also excavated so the moved branch would have a space to move into. Then the channel had several pieces of aluminum wire measured to fit and was fixed into place with some electrical tape.

Photobucket

I then began the process of tight wrapping the limb with hay bail twine, which we often talk about but haven’t documented all that well. As the twine is being laid firmly against the limb, it’s being unwound so that it lays flat. Eric assisted me with the wrapping, as it’s always easier with two people than one… though it can certainly be done alone.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Once the whole branch was covered tightly to close up the channel, a spine of heavier wire was laid against the outside of the limb, and the twine was laid against that back to the base of the limb. Heavy gauge wire was then applied to the branch, and the bend was very easily accomplished. The prep work took longer than any other aspect of this evenings work, but it’s essential to a successful bend of what would otherwise be an impossible move. De-lamination of wood is only prevented when great care is taken to evenly spread the force and tension over the whole length of the limb.

Photobucket

Photobucket

The tree was slip potted into a container which would be able to be it’s home for the next few years, and was covered with sphagnum to help keep the soil evenly moist as we head into our drier season. The tree will be kept in mostly shade for the next few weeks… I’ll let you know how it does. I would have preferred not to have to move it, but the basket was shattering whenever you touched it.

Photobucket

I’m very happy with the resulting image, and will work on foliage placement if it exhibits strong growth next year. To give a sense of how it was bent and twisted, I’ll leave you with this last photo for the moment… and will definitely get a better photo of it when I get a chance in general.

Photobucket

Kindest regards,

Victrinia

Bonsaication: Part One

Some people take vacations… we tend to take bonsaications. A bonsaication by definition is a period of time when you run away from your normal life and immerse yourself in as much bonsai as possible. Some people have to drag their significant others on such trips, promising tempting rewards somewhere along the way. But being one of those rare couples whose passion is equally steeped in a love of bonsai, it can make for a particularly enjoyable time away. Our bonsaication involved getting off the beaten path and traveling through the high country of the Rocky Mountains to go to the ABS/BCI annual convention in Denver, Colorado… followed by a languorous visit with family and a collecting trip in Wyoming. This first installment covers some of our journey through the Rockies, and our time at the convention being assistants to Daniel Robinson, who was among the headliners for the convention. We got to embrace old friends, make many new ones, and share our passion with so many wonderful people.

3085 miles, or 4965 km… 12 days… 1 bonsai… 9 collected trees… 6 Sara Rayner pots… and other odds and ends later, and I can only conclude it was one magnificent trip.

The great thing about a bonsaication is that you want to find yourself in the middle of wild and rugged country. After leaving Washington we eventually found ourselves in northern Utah going through the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway… We were able to get a few photos… but really it was so tight and narrow you often missed pullouts going through it. It was even amusing, when using a super telephoto lens on my Canon, to have someone ask me if I had spotted critters… only to be met with disappointment when I told him I had spotted trees…. lol

Photobucket

Photobucket

Eventually we found ourselves in Garden City, Utah… where we took the usual vista images and the obligatory portraits… (well of Eric at¬†least).

Photobucket

Photobucket

Eventually we made our way through beautiful country in Wyoming… and to Denver. I’m skipping the country in Wyoming for now… you’ll get enough of that in the next portion of the trip.

We had a wonderful time poking around the vendor area… and I was most intrigued with getting to meet Sara Rayner and see her amazing work. That we only got away with 6 pots was an amazing act of discipline. lol

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Eric and I lent a hand to the folks participating in Daniel’s Black Pine workshop… as well as Eric assisting with the Demo Tree. We had originally all thought to work on it… but it was really a two-man tree… a third would have slowed things down. Which wasn’t a great disappointment for me… I went off and hung out with friends instead. I would have helped with the Alaskan Yellow Cedar workshop the next day, except I wasn’t fit for it (too much hanging out with friends lol)… so Eric stepped up and assisted with that workshop. Sadly, I do have a photo gap… in that I don’t have a finished photo of the demo tree or the cedar workshop.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket
(Alaskan Yellow Cedar – Daniel Robinson’s demo tree)

Photobucket

Last but not least… from this leg of the trip… I wanted to post a few of the trees/stones which were shown. Mostly there were conifers, and being a conifer-girl, I realized later that I largely missed all the deciduous trees. Sorry about that… lol

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket
(No idea what this was actually paired with… I was so charmed by the accent I forgot to take a photo of the tree. o_O)

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

We hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into the first half of our bonsaication!

Warmly,

Victrinia

That moment when it all pays off

This last weekend we stopped by the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection to view an exhibit of several of our teachers trees. It is always very exciting to see them displayed in new and different setting. The trees of course were all wearing their very best and looking especially ¬†glamorous. One of the trees on display was the tree I worked on in the previous post “Wire Wire Every Where”¬†. I was so pleased to see how the tree finally looked in its new clothes that I was very surprised and delighted to have it pop out at me as I turned the corner of the display. I remember it being very much a moment of realizing that all the time and work put into that fantastic winter¬†silhouette¬†had finally payed off and there was that beautiful ancient tree I had imagined.

Below is a shot of the tree on display. The honor of having Daniel choose to display the tree is overwhelming and gratifying.

Another US National Bonsai Exhibition Entry

As Vic eluded to earlier, I also had a tree accepted for display at the 3rd US National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester, NY. During the last moments of deciding what to send with the tree and the flurry of things that needed to be done, I made some last minute changes.

The original companion to be sent with the tree was a collection of mosses that I had picked up on a trip into the mountains in years past. It has a wonderful sense of freshness that reminds me of the crisp clean alpine air.  It came up in discussion that the companion might be messing up the visual weight of the composition. In the below image the companion is placed too close to the tree, however this is due to the size of the table the backdrop is on.

The companion I ended up sending was one I had decided not to send before, believing that I would prefer the moss. It however offers a break in the display and ultimately I prefer it.

I hope you enjoy the display and I look forward to hearing from anyone who is there about how it looks all setup and in place.

Thanks,
Eric

Sneak Peek of a USNBE Entry…

This is a sneak peek¬†of a Chamaecyparis pisiferaTsukumo‘ that I am entering into the 3rd US National Bonsai Exhibition in NY next month. I’m still working on tweeking it, but I got the custom table today, which was made by Jerry Braswell. I finally settled on which accent planting and jita I would use to accompany it. A little more tweeking and it’ll be really sweet… so this is just a sneak peek for you all. I’ll be sure to get better photos before it actually goes.

Eric will be giving his own sneak peek of the tree he had accepted later in the week (when I can get a good photo).

Enjoy! And if you love the stand look forward to seeing a more detailed look at how it was built by Jerry.

Warmly,

Victrinia

US National Bonsai Exhibition Entry by Victrinia Ridgeway